Daniel Simoni ‘19 knows how to produce. He is one of the founding team members of 410 Pictures, a start-up venture focusing on niche micro-budget film production targeted for festivals, distribution houses, and the exploding video on demand platform. Daniel’s goal is to build an independent film community that leverages the talents of emerging film makers, and to create an ecosystem to help it grow.
As a film major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, he’s no stranger to the inner workings of the film industry on all levels, mastering the art of pre-production, producing, post-production, funding, marketing and distribution channels. And he already has an impressive production portfolio to his credit.
However, Daniel was not always set on pursuing a career in film. The Miami native had considered the field of aerospace engineering or the medical field, both equally technical and logical oriented areas of study. When asked what made him change his mind, he explained that he took a film history class as a freshman, and found that he had enjoyed the act of expression and creative freedom associated with the medium. Since then, he never thought about doing anything else. He soon realized that in order to successfully enter the ever-competitive film industry, he would need the entrepreneurial spirit to guide him. Daniel has always found the entrepreneurial aspect of film very interesting, so he was ready and motivated to tackle the challenges to come.
When asked, “What made you decide to start 410 Pictures,” Daniel cited his drive to change the local film industry. “There is a lack of traditional narrative film production houses in CNY, and we want to change that. We want to become a kind of pioneer in the narrative and festival film industry in the Syracuse area.”
Last summer, Daniel landed a video production internship with a corporate film production company in Miami. There, he learned a variety of post-production, on-set, and film marketing skills. This became his first source of entrepreneurial inspiration. It led him, along with co-founder Peter Hartsock ’19, to produce their first film for 410 Pictures, “The House on Pumpkin Drive.” Together they raised nearly $12,000 to create the film, which is headed to festivals later this year. It involved a production crew of nearly 20 people, and featured Hollywood actor, Nicholas Tucci, as well as Chicago and NYC stage actors and yes, a goat, which they cast in a pivotal role.
As a team, they have produced more than 15 short films, many of which have won awards. A recent film, “Call of the Void,” won best student film at a Rochester Top 100 festival in fall 2017. They have cast professional talent in their films, including actors who have appeared in major Hollywood productions, network television commercials, and more. Working with those professionals, they have quickly earned a reputation as a professional, organized and creative production team.
Companies like Netflix are looking to acquire content by professional small independent production houses, and 410 Pictures is working to become a creator to serve that demand. With the ability to provide end-to-end services from ideation, to story development, scripting, and more, 410 Pictures covers all aspects of pre-production, production, and post-production. 410 Pictures also has the expertise to crowdfund and build financial models around productions, which is a unique feature.
In addition to producing and distributing its own in-house productions, the company plans to focus on providing organizational, technical, and marketing expertise to young, emerging filmmakers, from development to film festival distribution. In addition to producing and acquiring other filmmakers’ works, 410 Pictures will produce and distribute its own in-house productions.
Daniel sees 410 Pictures as a way to put the talents of Syracuse University filmmakers – who are part of a top tier film school – to work in a professional capacity to not only build resumes, but to learn the industry through real world projects that add value to the local and regional economy. 410 Picture’s approach is to build an ecosystem that will help grow the regional film industry, starting in Syracuse.
Daniel has a special knack for quickly assembling teams that include art directors, gaffers, grips, cinematographers, casting directors, assistant directors, and all the necessary components to assemble a full-fledged film crew. And, he has gained a reputation as the “go-to” casting director for Syracuse University student film productions. 410 Pictures provides sophisticated post-production services, with a team skilled at software programs such as Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, Autodesk Maya, ZBrush, DaVinci Resolve, Logic Pro X and more.
After producing, working on, or casting more than 30 films shot in the region, he has built an impressive portfolio of work.
Reflecting on his past three years at Syracuse University, Daniel says he’s changed not only as a person, but as a creative too. He is now unafraid to try new things and take artistic risks when it comes to his work. After graduation, Daniel hopes to build 410 Pictures’ success by growing it into the largest independent film production and distribution house in Central New York. He explained how growth in the local film industry would greatly benefit the area’s economy and give upcoming film students at SU more opportunities to have real on-set experiences. Additionally, Daniel would also like to further his education by eventually obtaining a graduate degree in film.
Wherever life takes him though, he is excited for his future and will continue to work hard to pursue his passions.
Story by Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow, and 410 Pictures team member and CMO, Justina Hnatowicz ’19, Newhouse School major, and VPA minor in animation
Photo by Peter Hartsock ’19, VPA double major in film and animation, 410 Pictures co-founder and CTO