When one thinks of the term “Hollywood Power Player” a certain image comes to mind of a man in a suit, calmly making multimillion-dollar deals from his corner office, in buttery leather chairs.
What most people don’t expect, though, is for a producer to be a hardworking professional who’s always thinking ahead and integrating his next move or venture with what Jeff Clanagan calls a “a lot of discipline and focus and a good team.”
Clanagan is the CEO and founder of Codeblack Enterprises (CB), an 8-year-old marketing, producing and distribution company that has entered a multi-platform partnership with Lionsgate Films.
Clanagan has minted himself as a mover within the studio system. From his beginnings as a concert promoter to being a producer of many popular comedy and concert films to a president with acquisitions power with Lionsgate, Clanagan has proven that he has the power to evolve in the industry.
Clanagan’s Codeblack Enterprises will be on South Beach to premier three films during the 17th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF), through June 19-23. This year’s highlights include the southern premiers of Kevin Hart’s Let Me Explain, the George Tillman directed and Alicia Keys executive produced The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, and a panel with some of the actors of The Best Man Holiday, the sequel to the 1999 romantic comedy The Best Man.
“I’m really curious to see the audience response to Mister and Pete, because it played very well at Sundance. This will be the first time it’s playing for a black audience,” Clanagan said about Codeblack’s recent acquisition during an interview with the South Florida Times. “But, I think what I’m looking forward to is Kevin Hart’s Let Me Explain, which will close the festival.”
Codeblack Enterprises has had a long relationship with Kevin Hart in terms of his comedy specials, as well as Shaquille O’Neal’s All Star Comedy Jam series and YouTube content.
Codeblack, which started as a distribution and marketing company, is considered a top company for producing urban market films in various formats and finding content that speaks to urban audiences.
The company is responsible for bringing us films that are for us and by us, whether in theaters, straight to DVD, uploaded on Video Demand or on digital download.
According to its Internet Movie Database profile, CB owns the rights to 200-plus DVD titles and has distributed theatrically released feature films such as this year’s Free Angela, last year’s Woman Thou Art Loosed: On the 7th Day and Kevin Hart’s Laugh at My Pain.
“A lot of (entertainment companies) are just looking at numbers as opposed to what’s actually trending in the marketplace,” Clanagan said regarding Codeblack’s strategy for generating content to serve the urban market. “We’re very, very aggressive in the social media space, in terms of the way we research, the way we watch the trends, and we listen to what consumers are saying.”
So far, it’s been estimated that CB’s products have generated more than $150 million in revenue for itself and climbing. Its partnership and home at Lionsgate’s Santa Monica office doesn’t hurt, either. At the moment, Clanagan is considered the only African-American president with a major studio who has the power to green-light projects.
“Basically, we’re an urban internal studio … kind of like what Sony has with Screen Gems and what Fox has with Searchlight. We were especially labeled inside the Lionsgate infrastructure and what’s great about it is we were able to use that infrastructure and strengthen Lionsgate,” Clanagan said regarding the partnership.
Now that he and Codeblack have had a year to get comfortable in their Santa Monica workspace, the company is moving to diversify the types of films that are distributed and produced, as well as form partnerships with other brands in the marketplace to grow their library.
With the strong support system CB has plans to become the “Black Netflix,” and Clanagan hopes to soon set in motion branded devices such as a Codeblack iPhone or Samsung phone.
The busy CEO/movie producer/distributor has decided to make this week’s ABFF one of his top priorities in promoting CB’s featured films expected to have theatrical releases soon. Those include Things Never Said, a CB-filmed and produced entry.
Clanagan’s major priority, however, is a lot simpler than all of the work that goes into filming, producing and distributing a film with a good team. After all, success means nothing without someone to share it with.
“Where I’m at in my life is to work smarter, not harder, and make time for my family. So, I set aside that time for my family. That’s my No. 1 priority on a day-to-day basis.”