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Meet Lauren Magura of Cinematcher

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Magura.

Lauren, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I always knew I wanted to go into the entertainment industry, especially film. We all know how crazy this journey we call life can be, and that is what always drew me to have a massive appreciation and love for film and the creative minds behind them; because no matter how bad your day is, or how many hardships you are going through, if you sit through a good film your mind completely lets go of all of it, and becomes submerged into this new world. It becomes a beautiful escape. That being said, and I have said this so many times before, my journey began and continues to grow through passion and persistence.

Right before I was about to graduate college, I had applied to over a hundred jobs in the field. Even if the experience level was above mine, even if it was slightly different from what I wanted to pursue, I took every single interview I could get, to learn and grow from each experience. I have so many hilarious stories of interviews that were ridiculous and even embarrassing, but gained experience, inspiration and even new connections from all of them. I once read for a news reporter role, and they put me on the spot in front of the entire news station (zero experience news reporting). Although I completely bombed, talk about now having way more confidence in my next interview, knowing I only had to answer questions!

As soon as I graduated, I got my first entry-level job in the media operations center at NBCUniversal. There I was a media coordinator and managed digital and physical long and short form assets for NBC Universal’s distribution outlets including Broadcast TV, Cable Networks and New Media. I feel old saying this, but back then we even catalogued physical tapes! I then transitioned into a post-production scheduling role working closely with NBC’s broadcast and digital programming to coordinate scheduling, edits, screening, and prep session in post. While in this position, I was given the awesome opportunity to essentially project manage and be the liaison of a new system that was digitizing work orders.

This enabled me to gain experience working with the engineers and being the connector between what the creative side needed built, the client’s dev needs, versus what the engineers could roll out. These skills were essential in leading me to eventually build my own platform. But before I took the leap of faith from corporate, I had one more transition into my dream job – working directly with the Director of Field Promotions and Publicity Patrick McHugh for Universal Pictures, where we managed field marketing agencies across the eastern region, and brainstormed, created and implemented marketing campaigns for all Universal film releases.

I was lucky enough to be at Universal during a record-breaking year for them, and throughout the few years there, had the chance to work on other record-breaking films, under the most impressive team including Donna Langley, Michael Moses, Alissa Grayson, Peter Dangerfield,  Stacey Rosen Zarro and Patrick Mchugh. Donna Langley was also winning all these awards, like pioneer of the year, top power women, etc. which had such a huge impact on me seeing a woman in such a powerful position not only running but killing it as the head of one of the most successful film studios. The entire Universal team, not only did I look up to, I learned invaluable skills from.

Which finally leads me to where I am today. While at Universal, I had a love for learning everything production, especially directing and producing. I was lucky enough to have an amazing network that allowed me to shadow productions. In shadowing, I just saw a massive disconnect and inefficiency in how productions hired, managed, and paid their crew. My desire to optimize this end to end led me to found my own company called Cinematcher.

I am also super excited to say I’m doing business ventures for SpectreVision / Company X, a production company that focuses on telling character-driven stories tackling human experiences and pushing boundaries in the genre space.

SpectreVision partners Elijah Wood, Daniel Noah, Josh C. Waller, and CEO Lisa Whalen and head of business ventures Stacy Jorgensen, are a true dream team that are protective of the filmmaker’s creative vision, no matter what the budget or genre is. SpectreVision’s films include A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, COOTIES, THE GREASY STRANGLER,  the most recent hit, and may I add beautifully shot and  most amazing score (by the one and only legend Johann Johannsson) MANDY, DANIEL ISN’T REAL, SEVEN STAGES TO ACHIEVE ETERNAL BLISS BY PASSING THROUGH THE GATEWAY CHOSEN BY THE HOLY STORSH, and we have so many more beautiful and game changing projects coming up so keep an eye out!

Another impressive team I am super stoked to be working with is Ariel Stepp and Brian Lucey majority partners in the newly formed experiential marketing agency Company X Marketing. Ariel and Brian’s past projects include event production and partnerships for Deadline, Sony, Fox, Cinespia, Anheuser- Busch, GQ, Hulu, Red Bull, Universal, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Gallo, Legion M, T.V. Line & Virgin Produced.  Company X marketing’s roster of new clients includes LA Comic Con, The American Cinematheque theaters, The House on Sunset & El Cine, and I am beyond excited to be a part of the team.

I also do marketing, publicity, fund-raising, producing and distro for personal projects I am passionate about. I am producing a documentary currently in production looking for financiers, alongside Gisele Haralson and Rachel Kadushin called WHO SAID YOU CAN’T, that depicts the first African American women in STEM and their inspiring contributions. I also helped produce a hilarious IFC/Adult Swim-style dark comedy series KARL MANHAIR POSTAL INSPECTOR alongside writer/director Chandler Kauffman and executive producer Hillary Cutter, starring Geoffrey Cantor, Amy Rutberg and Peter McRobbie of Marvel’s Daredevil, and are currently looking for distribution with an audience demo that would have all the feels for this unique comedy.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Oh boy – definitely the most rugged dirt road you can find (ha). But I also would not change any of it, because each struggle came with the most invaluable learning experience to help me grow not only as an entrepreneur and founder but as a person.

Most of the struggles came from being an inexperienced and first-time founder. And of course, the transition from corporate to startup, going from complete stability, to okay now what do I do? You learn and am still learning every single day the right calls to make.

The most important thing to keep in mind is surrounding yourself with people that have had successes, have been through it, can offer advice, support and most importantly knowledge of the things you may not know. And being okay with not knowing everything, and being open to grow, or to pivot. I was and am extremely lucky in having a very supportive tribe of advisors, mentors , friends and family that continue to believe not only in my vision but in me.

One of the most frustrating struggles that I have gone through, along with many other powerful and inspiring women founder connects, is being a woman founder. Sadly, we all have very similar stories and experiences, of the negative situations that have come from being a woman trying to secure investment.

Getting raw for a minute, because I think it is important for change – from having an investor tell me I need to lose weight to fundraise, to never say that I did not go to an Ivy league school (when a male founder just before me did not even go to college which did not seem to be an issue).

The stories I have could be a whole other feature in itself, but I think rather than focus on the negatives it is important to highlight the positive changes and growth that have also been happening for women. It is also an exciting time to be a woman with all the new resources and networks of support.

That being said, I am the board member of Hera Angles, an all-woman angel group founded by Dr. Silvia Mah in San Diego whose mission is to grow the number of woman angel investors and fund more female entrepreneurs. I am super honored to be a part of this amazing female-driven network and hope to exclude the struggles I had to personally go through by providing other female entrepreneurs who come after me with more opportunity and resources for funding.

If you are a female founder with a startup actively fundraising feel free to apply for the Hera Angel Fund here https://www.heraangels.com/, or e-mail myself (lauren.magura@cinematcher.com) or Program Director Ana Bermudez at ana@heraangels.com

Cinematcher – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Cinematcher is a marketplace for the film industry to hire, get hired, and get paid on demand. It is an end to end solution optimizing the hiring, managing and payroll for the entertainment industry. Cinematcher 2.0 is currently in development and will not only digitize the crew hiring but the on-boarding, organization, wrap out and payroll process for productions. We also partner and promote diversity within the industry as we want our user base to reflect us.

After shadowing a bunch of those productions I mentioned earlier, I created a survey, sent it around to my production network of what tools they used to hire and manage their shoots, and asked if they would use a tool with features I had in mind if I were to get it built. The response was overwhelmingly YES. I then applied and got accepted to showcase at the SXSW Startup Spotlight, without having a product or anything to show!

We got chosen and only had a few weeks to SXSW, so I locked myself in my apartment to build a prototype (shout out to Dan Collins), that we launched at the festival where we got our first few hundred beta user signups. We got a couple of angel investors from some of the top media studios, built and launched our beta/MVP and went live to test it out in the market for a year to gain valuable feedback from our community of what the major pain points were so we could build the most impactful end to end platform.

This past year we merged with a competitor platform and were extremely eager to bring on the founder of that platform – our new Chief Strategy Officer and co-founder, Garrett Fennelly. Garrett is an Emmy award-winning producer, EP, and partner at Big Picture Company, a tech-forward production company operating in NYC, LA and New Mexico. Most recently, alongside Felipe Dieppa, he Executive Produced THE WOLF HOUR which premieres at Sundance 2019, starring Naomi Watts.

We are also very excited that Joe Banafato has joined the Cinematcher team as Chief Technology Officer. Joe has served in executive roles as CTO, VP Engineering, and Chief Enterprise Architect, and his business highlight reel includes the 2017 acquisition of his most recent venture ARM Technology, and the 2008 acquisition of TaxStream, that Inc. ranked in the top 1% on its list of America’s fastest growing companies.

We also have business highlights that we are super proud of since our MVP launch.

Cinematcher was selected by seven high-level, media executives from NBC Universal and Comcast to participate in their accelerator program geared toward the development of, and investment in diverse-owned businesses specializing in media, marketing, production, and digital tech. Cinematcher and nine other companies were chosen from a pool of applicants to join the NBCU EDGE (Shoutout to Angela Guzman) Accelerator, where they were introduced to high-level executives, including Peter Kiriacoulacos the Chief Procurement Officer at Comcast.

We also had a successful crowdfunding campaign on Seed&Spark raising over $25,000 from our supportive community. Cinematcher got chosen and showcased at Studio Collaborative on the Disney lot in CA and Time Warner in NYC where there were stakeholders from Disney, Disney-ABC Television Group, ESPN, CBS, Comcast NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, Time Warner and Viacom, etc. We also were awarded NJTC Venture Summer ‘Best Early Stage Company, and TechLaunch People’s Choice award.

We are currently in dev of Cinematcher 2.0 for a 2019 festival launch. People can sign up here to receive updates of when and where 2.0 goes live – www.cinematcher.com.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
This is an easy one. I define success as you being happy. Truly happy. If you are not doing something that makes you happy, success will never come. After all the busyness and the noise and interviews and events or whatever takes up your day, if after all of it you are in a room by yourself and don’t feel good about how you are spending your time, it is time to move on.

Also as I said, earlier persistence and passion are my number two suggestions for success. If something makes you happy, and you believe it can have true change and impact on making others lives easier, better, more efficient, you need to persist to have your vision followed through with. Because there will be a lot of doubts, a lot of no’s, and if you do not believe in what you are doing enough to keep pushing through, no one else will either.

Success could be being a founder, success could be being a filmmaker, success could be being a parent. Spend your time doing things that bring you joy. That’s success.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Patrick Cashin, Bust Magazine

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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