Wii Game, Graphic Novel Help PixoFactor Digitize and Monetize Michigan’s Film Incentive
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is his first tech-oriented endeavor. He says he got out of construction because, as the old saw puts it, “You can spend your time carrying buckets or you can spend your time building a pipeline.”
Still, his almost two decades as a business owner prepared Hurwitz well for PixoFactor. “Leadership is leadership,” he says, and the core components—whether you’re in landscaping or video game development—is knowing how to manage the managers, be a liaison with clients, manage the money, and bid for a project. He cannot sit down and write a line of code, but he knows how to find the right people who do, and manage them well.
That’s what he did back in 2008, when he met Michael Bolden and Jeremiah Strackbein, two code-slingers who had founded PixoFactor the previous year. The real estate business was beginning to go south, so Hurwitz was looking for a new opportunity. Bolden and Strackbein knew the digital side, were great programmers and animators, but were looking for somone like Hurwitz—and his Envy Capital backers—to truly take advantage of the nascent industry being encouraged by the state.
“I could see the business opportunity…here in Michigan with this incentive,” Hurwitz says. “You know, if there’s a million-dollar game and you could build it for $600,000, well, if you had the right team and enough money to build your company, why wouldn’t the games come here? Why wouldn’t the animated series come here?”
So, Hurwitz and Envy came onboard, and business started coming their way. Their first big contract is coming to a head now. It’s an animated TV show based on a graphic novel from Dare Comics called “The Hunter.” Hurwitz identified the property as an “up-and-comer.” The series’ pilot is being pitched now. If it’s picked up by a network, PixoFactor will create the interactive game.
Hurwitz is excited about a new feature PixoFactor is creating that allows users to watch five minutes of the “motion comic,” then download a playable version of the scene they just watched. “So, in it, they blow up LAX and there’s terrorists and stuff,” Hurwitz says. “So once you’ve watched it, you can now download it and play in the airport, and choose who you want to be. That’s brand new.”
The Hunter contract was a good start, Hurwitz says, but the Ben Hogan Wii game is going to send the company into a whole new league. If they really haul, he says, it will take the company nine months to complete the project. They’ll need to, since the game is scheduled to be released by Father’s Day 2011. PixoFactor is in charge of the project, but they’re going to need to take on other companies as contractors for animation and programming.
After expected approval from the Michigan Film Office, PixoFactor will pull the lever and the work begins.
“With this approval, with the completion, and with the rebate coming back—those three things—for this game,” Hurwitz says, “that will open the floodgates in Michigan.”
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