Big Block Media (www.bigblockla.com), the Santa Monica-based digital production studio, announced late last year that it would be leaving its roughly 8,200-square-foot space to move into its recently purchased 11,400-square-foot studio at the new Elevon at Campus El Segundo. Elevon describes itself as an innovative office environment where buyers include prominent media, entertainment, and tech firms that have relocated from Santa Monica and purchased their own space.
The move makes sense on several levels, explained Big Block CEO and founder Scott Benson (pictured) late last year, when he first made the announcement. “We considered the tax incentives of purchasing our own space — especially in El Segundo, which has many advantages for businesses — and because we could capitalize on purchasing at current price points.”
Benson also observed that many of his company’s clients and major advertising agencies are also moving south. The new, larger studio — which Big Block will customize to its specifications — allows the firm to expand content production. Being close to LAX is also an advantage, as it allows better coordination with celebrity talent flying to Los Angeles.
Here, Benson speaks with Post about the move, scheduled for the second quarter of this year.
Can you talk further about why you decided to move Big Block Media to the Elevon building?
“We think there is a general move of creative talent south from Venice. Many of the executive talent we work with live in Hermosa and Manhattan Beach, so getting close to that base is important for us. The Elevon development has the creative open space we need and the design of the space allows us to create an indoor/outdoor work space that our employees really enjoy.”
What were/are some of the incentives and benefits of the move?
“We could not afford a similar-size property in Santa Monica (our current location) and I really don’t know of an area like Elevon and Silicon Beach that is available at any cost in the immediate area. That is why so many people are moving their business south to Campus El Segundo. Also, the property will be purpose built for our business, and we will no longer have the hassle of shared space with other businesses in our building.”
There are other entertainment/media businesses also moving in — how does that benefit you? Is the plan for some of the companies to share projects?
“Groups of talented, creative people can create magic. Technology and entertainment are coming together to provide a new generation of viewers with choices we could have only dreamed of in the recent path. Big Block is focused on the services required to deliver great content for others as well as developing content that we own ourselves. Other creative-related services are dependent on the infrastructure and skill sets of outside organizations. Many of those related companies are relatively new and looking to take advantage of the location and cost benefits associated with the immediate area. As an example, we are creating full-length feature films but using digital distribution platforms to market and distribute our films. This means working with large companies like Apple and small upstarts like Voyant. Everybody has heard of Apple, but newer companies like Voyant are the future brand names for this space and those types of companies are moving to the Silicon Beach area.”
Why did you decide to purchase space rather than rent?
“We have some very specific build out demands for the space. It is an expensive proposition to create the kind of environment needed to make our creatives and clients comfortable. When renting, every upgrade cost must be weighed against the time we expect to occupy the space. With ownership, we can build exactly what we need, with the knowledge that at least a portion of our business will be located in this space for the foreseeable future. For owner-operated companies like this one, the approach makes sense. Build up equity value in your property, even if the upfront cost is a bit higher than a rental. Much like buying a home, it is an investment in the long-term success of the business.”
Is this the new way production and post production studios will be doing business?
“Post and production houses must survive on tight margins, so all of us are looking for ways to reduce expenses, serve our clients more, and build value in our companies. Big Block is building a library of content that shows our advertising clients what we are capable of producing, while building long-term value on our balance sheet.”