Entrepreneur and Executive Producer Greg Centineo joins Enterprise Radio to discuss his most recent project, the animated musical feature film, “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return,” which hit theaters this last Friday May 9th.
Listen to interview with host Eric Dye & guest Greg Centineo discuss the following:
- Tell us a little about your background and how did you get involved in the “Legends of Oz” franchise project?
- Why does “Oz” make such a financially powerful franchise and why did you decide to delve into it both creatively and financially?
- We heard this film happened to be the faith and support of a lot of independent partners. Tell us about that type of collaboration and why it works so great for an Oz AND animated film?
- Tell us a little about the other ancillary points of entry other than film.
- What can you tell us about your own upcoming projects?
- What advice can you give independent filmmakers based on your experience with Oz, such a beloved world-wide franchise?
- What advice can you give budding entrepreneurs based on your experience?
If Greg Centineo had a title, it could be catalyst for life change, project promoter or seeker of meaning. His career is indefinable, but a series of seemingly unrelated experiences brought him to where he is today: aiming to increase people’s wealth by raising capital for one of Hollywood’s most exciting and monumental projects, the “Legends of Oz” 3-D-animated-film franchise.
Greg was never interested in working in the space of filmmaking. Implored repeatedly over the course of months to conduct the funding by the CEO of Summertime Entertainment, the film and franchise’s production company, he declined as many times. He didn’t think movies were good money makers, and he was already involved in private-equity endeavors. But a “what if?” feeling prevailed and sleepless nights grew more frequent. He recalled his first job in which he encouraged a devoted constituency to think, to question, to challenge and to reach for new experiences.
He delved deeper into the Oz franchise’s documentation. With the tens of millions of dollars required to make a 3-D-animated franchise, it was far-fetched and improbable. But the investment structure of the deal was sound. And he knew a good deal about franchising having opened the Two Street Coffee Garage, originally an organic underground coffee movement intended to go head to head with Starbucks, then two more. Concluding it might be “crazy in a good way,” he began to raise some equity for the project.
Greg knew quite a bit about that, too. After he sold the coffee franchise, he had moved into the arena of residential lending and structured financing with Washington Mutual. Strongly influenced by his own father’s teachings that it took money to make money, he quickly gained rank in the bank. He built a company within the larger company that taught consumers leveraging principles. Years later, many of his clients are still with him professionally, as friends and as part of his team.
In 2008, as the funds for Legends were coming in, his role in the operation grew. The investment presented multiple ancillary opportunities due to its being a multi-industry franchise, and people could see the potential that a typical live-action movie didn’t offer. Captivated and undaunted by Greg’s honest approach (“This is the greatest opportunity of a lifetime in which you will lose all your money.”), client after client bought in—and eventually bought in big—to what has now become a $110 million unprecedented global phenomenon.
As the first phase of the Legends project draws to a close, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-raised father of two reflects on what he calls his greatest accomplishment of his lifetime by far and his multi-faceted career. “As a leader, I was looked to for answers, and then as I matured, I came to understand that true leadership is about helping people ask better questions and letting them lead themselves,” he says. “I approached this project, building a serious community of investors the way I built everything else. Whether it was leading large constituencies, opening the coffee shops or educating people on money, I have learned to apply the same universal assumptions.
“In everything I have done in my life, I had the privilege of creating it with others and giving them a different paradigm of the world we live in.”
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