E’lan West, owner of Montage Media Production Company, brings innovative content to the small screen. Being at the helm of the production company provides West the opportunity to cultivate creative content that will have a lasting impact on audiences. Whether it’s an informative documentary or a fictional TV show, entertainment enriches the lives of viewers by offering different perspectives and the enjoyment of escapism. Montage Media Production Company’s grade A television programming ensures quality time well spent with family, friends or a significant other. In a conversation with QG, West gives insight on what makes a good TV show, successful business partnerships, and hopes for the future.
How did you get started in the entertainment industry?
I started in the industry by managing talent new to Los Angeles. Over the years, I have had a chance to work with some of the best emerging talent new to the scene. Imagine having the energy, drive, and focus you had when you were a kid playing with your favorite toy; that’s what LA is. Everyone is focused, networking, working, helping each other reach their goals. It’s always fascinating to see people new to Los Angeles, eager and focused strictly on their career and ambition. For me, to be able to assist in any way was fulfilling, natural, and easy work. Of course, I was able to make enough money for it to be worthwhile, but I still work with a lot of those people from over ten years ago.
How did the Montage Media Production company come into being? Also, what makes your company stand apart?
After years of being a talent manager and working with everyone from network executives, agencies, management companies and casting directors, I started to understand what I was interested in within the industry. My focus was on creating projects I had never seen on TV and the stories I had never seen told. At that point, I decided to invest in a substantial amount of film equipment and started filming. After some time, I began to reach out to all of the people in the industry that I knew. I was luckily able to pitch them, and the quality of work has allowed me to become successful enough to sell content.
I’d say what makes my company stand apart from others is I choose everything that we do. If I want to shoot a short, a documentary, a television series, an unscripted reality show – I go and do it with my team; there is no clearance needed. If there’s a non-profit trying to raise money and I want to offer support by providing a production team, I can do that as well. I love to work with non-profits that need help delivering their message. I’d say having free rein to work in all these areas is what makes us different.
What’s it been like to work with NFL champ Spencer Paysinger?
Working with Spencer has been great. He is a very smart and focused guy. I enjoyed learning about his life story. How can you not appreciate Spencer making big money on the field, but deciding to walk away on his terms and having a show created about his life? (Which has now become All American on the CW and Netflix.) That in no way is common. He is working hard on delivering new projects to his new audience. I am sure he will have great success because of his work ethic. We are currently working on a great scripted project that can play on multiple networks, and I think it will be interesting to see where it ends up. All in all, he has been a pleasure to work with.
Can you share a bit about the upcoming documentary featuring NBA star Eddy Curry?
Eddy is very excited, as is our team. It is going to be a great project. We are currently in the pre-production phase mapping out logistics. His story has many different layers – from success at the highest level to a health scare during his playing career, to the unfortunate tragedy of his daughter being murdered as a young girl. Eddy and his family have grown stronger as a unit throughout the last ten years. I will say, when Eddy speaks, people listen because he’s typically a man of few words, publicly. I hope everyone that watches the documentary takes away that life’s trials and tribulations can make you stronger and to always persevere through them.
Can you share a few details about your company’s television venture with Brittney Palmer?
Brittney is extremely talented. She’s been featured on ESPN Online, Fox Sports, TMZ, Star, Access Hollywood, The Blast, and Daily Mail. The only thing holding her back from taking her stardom to the next level is the opportunity. Brittney has proven to be talented on many levels in many industries, which is the reason I feel she is a great person to build content with. She is very confident and driven. I want to help her reach that next level. She is and has been a great host on television, and I think she should be at the forefront of her show, scripted series, and films. We are approaching the deal in that way, giving her an opportunity on the biggest stages.
Why was producing a series like Mothers and Daughters important to you?
Life moves so fast, and at times, we forget to acknowledge mom. It’s funny because every time I see a mother and daughter, I think it’s one of the sweetest relationships. It’s beautiful to see. Mothers are lifelong teachers, and a lot of times, from what I’ve seen, that is the strongest relationship. If, after watching an episode of Mothers and Daughters, it makes you feel closer to your mom or makes you want to call and set up a lunch or dinner date with her, I feel that would be the best gift. We have completed casting and have found a great group of mothers and daughters that we will showcase in 2020.
Can you tell us about the creation of I AM…?
I AM… to me, it was needed. A very old saying that still rings true to this day is: “Live and Let Live”. That sums it all up. We are all different, and that is how it is supposed to be. The world wouldn’t be too interesting if we were all the same; the same color, the same voice, the same clothing or beliefs. One of the coolest things is when you stumble upon something new, then you research it and find you’ve been missing out on that entire world. When I created I AM…, the thought was to empower people to share why they have proudly chosen to label themselves specific societal identifiers. We should be able to gain an understanding and have mutual respect for the power of choice.
How has partnering with Reverse Content helped push your brand’s content to the next level?
The partnership with Reverse Content puts me in a space to create concepts around social impact topics. I have always considered myself to be mindful of social issues. I am from a huge melting pot and have always respected differences or beliefs that are contrasting to mine. So with these projects, it’s fun to work with people from all walks of life and be able to tell their stories. The more we expose ourselves to new people and different beliefs, the more we become accustomed to them. With that said, I’d hope we could all flourish and be able to understand that we are all people working towards a goal, and that differences shouldn’t divide us. That’s the message I hope to deliver through this branded content. We all must be aware of what is going on because we are all sharing communities and society.
What inspires you to select specific projects?
My inspiration comes from the nature of the project; there must be a key element I connect with. It can even be as simple as me wanting to be the first to tell that story from my perspective. To say there’s an audience can be true, but I think it’s a lazy way to think. I like to engulf myself in each project and educate myself on that world, and what exactly it is I’d like to capture. I am very lucky not to have to work on projects I have zero interest in. I truly consider myself dedicated to developing.
What type of entertainment experience do you hope to create for audiences?
I’d say an enjoyable entertainment experience – whether it’s thought-provoking or an escape to unwind and enjoy something new. Through the years, I have worked on many different types of projects, so I feel that a product I am proud of will sit well with the audience it was intended for. It’s like playing baseball; you know when you’ve hit a home run or when you have struck out. I always want to hit a home run for my audience.
What’s next on the horizon?
I am going to continue to work in all areas. I recently shot a couple of tester shorts, so we never know what the future will hold. I am working on a new series for Reverse Content entitled Los Angeles Lens that will enter the personal lives of locals in Los Angeles who come from completely different backgrounds and lifestyles. The series will eventually take place across the nation. I am also in the development of/delete and add currently developing a great screenplay with a writing partner in a brand-new genre for me, so it’s been great to develop. I want to continue to learn, grow, and be active on my terms. I can say I am looking forward to the future.
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