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LA Inno – Film-tech startup Showrunner raises $4 million to bring smart-home tech to movie sets

A startup that wants to bring smart home-like tech to the filmmaking industry has landed fresh funding from some top investors — and relocated its headquarters.

Showrunner announced it raised $4 million in a round led by Chicago-based Lightbank, a fund led by Groupon and Tempus founder Eric Lefkofsky. Other backers include Craft Ventures, led by well-known Silicon Valley investor David Sacks; Gaingels, a fund that backs LGBTQ+ founders; and angel investor Allen Gannett.

With the fundraise, Showrunner is moving its headquarters from New York to Chicago. The startup evaluated several cities across North America for its home base, CEO Shane Snow said, including Mexico City, Vancouver, Atlanta, L.A. and Salt Lake City, but it ultimately chose Chicago based on real estate costs, the growth of the film industry in the city, and the film production tax incentives the city provides.

And since the startup made the decision to move to the Windy City, the Illinois Film Production Tax Credit program was expanded further.

“The bet on Chicago is already paying off,” Snow said.

Showrunner was initially developed as an in-house tool for Snow’s New York-based production company. Its software automates different parts of the production process, allowing filmmakers to control cameras, lights, fans and other aspects of a film set right from an iPad. It creates more efficiency on set, allowing scrappy independent filmmakers to automate jobs, and gives larger crews the ability to work faster and eliminate downtime.

“So much of the time on a film set is waiting for someone else to do their job so you can do your job,” he said. “So we started working on tools to speed up our own productions.”

Snow and his team essentially created a smart home system for film production, where directors could remote-control different elements of their set. It’s especially useful on virtual film sets, Snow said, which include LED walls and other technology to make it appear that the film is being shot on location.

With the funding, Showrunner will bring its software from an in-house tool to a commercial product, which Snow said will be available this summer. The startup, which has five employees today, plans to grow to 30 by the end of this year.

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