African American, Women-owned Michigan Film Acquired by Hollywood Studio

Michigan-based company Branch Out Productions has finished production on its first film, “Mighty Oak,” and is set to release it on video on demand in July after it was acquired by a major Hollywood film studio.
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Mighty Oak
Paramount Pictures has acquired “Mighty Oak” by Branch Out Productions and will release it on video on demand later this month. // Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Michigan-based company Branch Out Productions has finished production on its first film, “Mighty Oak,” and is set to release it on video on demand in July after it was acquired by a major Hollywood film studio.

Paramount Pictures picked up the film in May and, after showings at nationwide drive-ins in June, the movie is due to be released Tuesday, July 7 on VOD.

The film, described as a music infused drama, features a female-centric cast that includes actresses Raven Symone, Janel Parrish, Alexa PenaVega, Carlos PenaVega, Rodney Hicks, and Nana Ghana, among others.

The film’s story revolves around a band manager, Gina Jackson (Janel Parrish), who loses her brother and lead singer Vaughn (Levi Dylan) in a car accident. Ten years later, she finds a 10-year-old music prodigy named Oak (Tommy Ragen) who seems to possess the same qualities as her late brother, leading her to believe he is the reincarnation of Vaughn.

This is the first film produced by the African American, women-owned Branch Out Productions, based in Grand Rapids. The principals include Lisa King, Andola Mathis, and president of production Lisa Mathis.

Launched in 2019, the company crafts films that are inclusive and more focused on “four quadrant” stories, or stories designed to appeal to a wide audience, which shows with the diverse, female-led cast presented in “Mighty Oak.”

“Because our director, Sean McNamara, as well as the other producers, shared our commitment to diversity, we knew the collaboration represented a great way to get our feet wet,” says Mathis. “The fact that it is also an entertaining movie with an uplifting message made it all the more appealing.”

Branch Out Productions has already started on the development of other films, including co-developing a historical action film titled “The Black Joke” with “Fast & Furious” franchise producer Chris Morgan Productions. Other films currently in production include action movie “Xavier Jordan” and Michigan-based comedy “Block Party,” which is planned to start shooting in spring of 2021. Branch Out is recruiting talent for the projects.

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