Mollee D. Harper, Senior Editor
We travel inside the world of independent film creators and producers this week, and sit down with Co-Owners Erin Bethea and Drew Waters of Argentum Entertainment, who have been working in the entertainment industry for many years on both coasts. During our time together, Bethea and Waters share their experiences, triumphs and focus on pure storytelling and growing the independent film market within Georgia’s entertainment arena, bringing a wealth of experience and accolades with them from LA.
Argentum Entertainment is a production and finance company founded in 2014 by co-owners and co-presidents, Erin Bethea and Drew Waters. They are headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia with a satellite office in Los Angeles, California. Argentum Entertainment has made a name for itself in the realm of independent films by creating quality projects for mass audiences in good entertainment. They are committed to create and produce feature films with no gratuitous objectionable content; whose relatable characters and themes result in captivating storytelling.
Inside Argentum Entertainment
Bethea described, “Argentum is the Latin word for silver. Silver goes through a very specific purification process. In order to bring out its value, you have to remove the imperfection. Storytelling is really the same way. You have to know what to add or remove to make a film approachable and connect with audiences. It is all about bringing pure silver back to the silver screen.”
Waters offered, “We moved our offices from LA to Atlanta. We are both Southern people and really wanted to get back to the Southern states. A lot of what we were shooting was really outside of Los Angeles. We made great connections in LA but were able to move here and have a better peace of mind and have a better life.”
Waters added, “We have been talking with several people here about all of the ins and outs of the tax credits. They are really becoming more favorable as they now cover the post production side. As an independent producer, we always look for ways to minimize risks and maximize our work for our investors.”
Bethea shared, “Our role as an independent producer is to be on the film long before anyone cares about it and long after anyone cares about it. From concept through release and marketing, we are the one constant that stays on the project and ensures everything is running smoothly.”
Waters described, “One of the biggest things, I’ve seen it happen time and time again. Producers want to make a movie they sell the idea, spend the money, and then have no idea how to distribute it and get it out to the masses. If you’re going a festival route, you still have to have a plan of attack to get it in front of the right market for recoupment. More so than not, we run into investors who lost money because they didn’t have the backend components in place. Coming from LA, we know those resources and we know how to position a product to minimize risk to our investors. We are really strong in this area and hold ourselves accountable to a plan and make sure it’s a success.”
She continued, “Argentum is really dedicated to create more films that focus on good storytelling and relatable characters. We don’t focus on one genre, instead cover everything from romance to drama, family and kid friendly films and more. We really try to avoid gratuitous use of objectionable material like strong sexual content, offensive language or over the top violence.”
Waters offered, “As producers we are really connectors and problem solvers. We really collaborate throughout the entire production making sure we don’t overspend or spend on the wrong things.”
Bethea added, “Producing is a huge job, it’s the ultimate responsibility in this industry. There is a reason why producers give the acceptance speech when a film wins Best Picture. They are the ones that have born the majority of the weight and why the film was created, finished and seen by the audience.”
Bethea described, “Drew and I established our brand by not only agreeing on what we personally enjoyed as movie fans, but also by looking at what had made our past projects successful. I started my career by starring in the movie Fireproof, which was made for half a million and became the number one independent film in 2008. That film’s message resonated with audiences on a level that was impactful emotionally which resulted in huge commercial success.”
Waters piped in. “My first big break was on Friday Night Lights and I had a small acting role on Breaking Bad season two. Both had great writing and innovative storytelling which alters the creative space and forces new boundaries of what’s typically done in Hollywood.”
Waters explained, “I started into the industry at the age of 30 after leaving the military. I was so lucky to find my niche and get some great shows working with very talented writers, directors, actors and producers.”
“One of my biggest mentors in this industry is Garry Brown. He is used to doing big productions but he’s an indie person at heart. He loves to teach people and it really gave me a strong start.”
Waters shared, “Building Argentum Entertainment has also allowed me to explore my passion for directing. I shot my first feature in 2015 and won Best Director for New Life. It’s funny because this industry is really split. There are roles for both creatives and for business-minded problem solvers. With Argentum, we have to master both roles. We have to create something beautiful and emotional, but we are also responsible for making sure it can be done in the right way that will ensure success for each project.”
He continued, “Our most recent film, New Life came from a personal place in my life. I wanted to build a support tool to help others who have to go through grief. I had lost my grandfather who was my best friend. Now we’re really seeing support groups and organizations use our beautiful love story as a tool to help folks who are going through a difficult time.”
The Future of Storytelling
Bethea offered, “We do have a couple of projects we are currently seeking financing for and getting talent for. There is a Christmas movie and we have a family friendly film with a great message about father-son bonding and one with a strong animal conservation message. We have another based on a true story, and a crime thriller we’re excited about that are all in various stages now.”
Waters added, “We have a lot of different projects coming down the pipeline, but what we want people to know is that you can look to Argentum Entertainment for quality stories. We have a standard of excellence we hold ourselves to and hope to work with other like-minded professionals.”
Bethea shared, “We focus on making movies that we like ourselves. Drew and I are both movie fans and we want to create stores that we can personally get excited about. This past year, some great films like like Hidden Figures, Gifted, and Lion proved that you can tell relevant and powerful stories that the whole family can safely watch together. We also both have a passion for stories based on true events. Ultimately this is a really hard business, too hard to do if you can’t make films you are personally passionate about as fans.
Waters continued, “We have a good eye for finding a project that is commercially viable and tweaking it to bring out the essence so it’s most relevant and viable. That’s really our area of expertise, what we are really good at. We work together with our writers, other producers and directors to adapt each film to its best potential for marketability.”
Waters concluded, “For me I want Argentums Entertainment to be known as a collaborative company. If someone has an idea or concept and they don’t know where to go, come to us. We know how to bring the right parties to the table. We want to use our resources to build up the independent market in Georgia. It’s not as strong as it can be yet, and we want to really help build up that effort here. We are a production company, but that doesn’t mean we have to solely handle production or marketing. Pick where you are soft and let us help you there. We have longevity and roots and really know how to work with investors in a responsible way.”
Bethea concluded, “I think one of the things I want to be clear about, Drew and I are for Georgia. We are for the independent filmmakers, directors and writesr here. We want to see the state of GA create and cultivate its film industry. There are so many passionate investors and talented people here who want to be a bigger part. Film really is a fun, sexy investment when its done right and we want Argentum to contribute to that – producing, educating and collaborating to build out the infrastructure here. We believe GA is one of the few places in the world that it can really work. From an economic standpoint, talent-wise, locations and more, there is so much here. We want to see Georgian’s take advantage of this opportunity and make it work.”
Erin Bethea is co-owner and serves as co-president for Argentum Entertainment since its founding in 2014. With over a decade of entertainment experience, Erin’s film career began in the starring role of 2008’s #1 independent film, Fireproof. Her talents and experience includes working as both a performer and freelance marketer for both independent film companies and major studios like the Walt Disney Co. and Fox Home Entertainment.
Drew Waters is co-owner and serves as co-president for Argentum Entertainment since its founding in 2014. Within his 13 yrs of industry experience, Drew has found success both behind and in front of the camera. Most recognized for his roles on the hit TV series Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad, Drew channeled his industry contacts into the opening of his production company, Argentum Entertainment. Drew is an actor, director, and producer, eager to bring fresh ideas to life.
To learn more about Argentum Entertainment, visit their company website at: