"I think Montreal could be one of the next major hubs for entertainment," said Alexandre Amancio, CEO of Reflector Entertainment. "Right now we're a service provider. But I think starting our own grassroots content creators and being an exporter of content is the next step for Montreal." PIERRE OBENDRAUF / MONTREAL GAZETTE
Reflector is a new Montreal-based multimedia studio created by Alexandre Amancio and owned by him and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté.
If you want to start up a new entertainment studio, it sure helps if you’re buddies with Guy Laliberté.
That’s exactly the fortunate position Alexandre Amancio found himself in a couple of years ago. Amancio, a Portuguese Montrealer who was a creative director with Ubisoft, had left the booming video-game company because he wanted to set up his own thing. He was working as creative director on a project being developed by Lune Rouge, the company owned by Cirque du Soleil founder Laliberté, and when Laliberté, who reportedly made $1.5 billion when he sold Cirque du Soleil in 2015, asked him to sign up full time with Lune Rouge, Amancio told the entrepreneur with deep pockets that he was otherwise engaged.
“I said, ‘Look Guy, it’s really interesting but I’ve started this thing and it’s like I have two paths in front of me’,” said Amancio in an interview this week at Reflector’s downtown offices. ” ‘On one side, I have this dense jungle with almost no lighting, it’s dark, there are weird animal sounds, I don’t know the terrain. I have a machete in my hand and a flashlight. On the other side, it’s sunny, it’s beautiful paved roads, with the smartest people I’ve ever met.’
“Then I said to Guy, ‘But I bought a machete!’ He laughed. He said, ‘Dude, the last thing I want is for anybody to let go of their dreams. So I’m completely comfortable with you continuing whatever it is you’re doing and (have) you work with me on this project.’ So that’s what I did.”
Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte. DARIO AYALA / MONTREAL GAZETTE
In 2015, Amancio began working with Laliberté on this Lune Rouge project. After about six months, Laliberté asked Amancio to tell him about his other project and that’s when the former Ubisoft executive gave him the pitch on his idea for a new Montreal-based multimedia studio that would make video games, feature films, documentaries, TV series, novels and comic books. Laliberté proposed that he partner with Amancio on the studio and, at the same time, that Amancio become the chief creative officer for the entire Lune Rouge group. Amancio has since left that position with Lune Rouge, though he still works closely with them, to focus on Reflector.
That was the beginnings of Reflector Entertainment, which officially unveiled its new studio Monday in the former Maison Alcan on Stanley St., a building that Laliberté bought in 2016 for $50 million. The building also houses the offices of Lune Rouge. Reflector currently has just over 100 employees and expects to have 300 employees by 2021. The studio includes a video-game development areas, a sound studio, and an area for virtual-reality and augmented-reality experiences. Reflector is owned jointly by Lune Rouge, which is owned by Laliberté, and Amancio, with Lune Rouge holding majority ownership.
“Reflector is Guy essentially betting on a local creative (guy) from Montreal and saying, ‘You know what? I’d like to support the next generation of creative companies’, because he wished someone would’ve helped him when he was trying to (found) the Cirque,” said Amancio.
In September, Reflector unveiled its first multimedia entertainment property, Unknown 9. It is an occult conspiracy thriller built around the notion of nine immortals who possess the sum total of all human knowledge and the secret Leap Year Society that is out to grab all this knowledge. It’s based on an original idea by Amancio.
There is a feature film coming written by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken, who penned the thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane; a trilogy of novels written by Layton Green (the Dominic Grey series); a TV series executive produced by Tim Kring (Heroes); a comic book by writer John Ney Rieber and artist Jae Lee; and a video game and a podcast.
Reflector is also creating video content for the multimedia show Through the Echoes, which will première June 1 at PY1, a pyramid-shaped venue to be set up in the Old Port. That show and PY1 are being created by Lune Rouge.
An artist’s rendition of PY1, a venue expected to open in the summer of 2019 in the Old Port of Montreal.PY1
Their primary language of production will be English because the company’s target market is global but Amancio feels it’s a big plus to be based in Montreal because it has a mix of European and North American cultural influences.
“I think Montreal could be one of the next major hubs for entertainment,” said Amancio. “Right now we’re a service provider. But I think starting our own grassroots content creators and being an exporter of content is the next step for Montreal.”
They are actively hiring, looking for 3D artists, animators, FX artists, and production co-ordinators, among many other positions. For students and graduates interested, there will be an open house at Reflector on Saturday (Jan. 21) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and anyone can drop by with their curriculum vitae. Their offices are located at 2200 Stanley St.
For more information, go to reflectorentertainment.com.