1091 Media Announces Layoffs (EXCLUSIVE)

Indie studio 1091,  formerly known as The Orchard, is laying off nine employees or roughly 25% of its staff as it moves in a new strategic direction that will see the company release fewer films. The cuts will be across the company and will include reduction in marketing, distribution, and other areas.

The layoffs come roughly three months after the company was sold by Sony Music to Daniel Stein and Joe Samberg, principals of 1091 Media. The two had been original investors in the Orchard. After 1091 took over the studio, they embarked on a review of the business operations and determined that they needed to adapt a new plan that will focus on distributing between four to six theatrical releases a year. Previously, the company had released as many as 15 films annually, and the new owners determined that it was better to take a more targeted approach, one that enabled them to devote more time and resources to a more curated selection of films.

In a memo to staff, 1091 chief operating officer Chad Blackwell and chief financial officer Julie Dansker wrote, “With our new leadership in place and our strategic vision set, we are focused on building our company in the most efficient and effective way possible. It is with that in mind, that we have made the difficult decision that a reduction in force is necessary to achieve optimal growth at 1091 and allow us to run more efficiently.”

The new owners rebranded the company as 1091 in April. Paul Davidson, who led the company for five years, left when the sale was finalized. A team of several executives, including Blackwell and Dansker, are overseeing operations.

Under the Orchard banner, the studio’s past films include “What We Do in the Shadows,” “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” “The Hero,” “Neruda,” and “The Hero.” Upcoming releases include Werner Herzog’s “Meeting Gorbachev,” a look at the former Soviet Union leader, and “Halston,” the story of the minimalist fashion designer of the same name.

Here’s the full memo:

Dear Team,

With our new leadership in place and our strategic vision set, we are focused on building our company in the most efficient and effective way possible. It is with that in mind, that we have made the difficult decision that a reduction in force is necessary to achieve optimal growth at 1091 and allow us to run more efficiently.

We have a new strategic vision, which focuses on 4 to 6 traditional theatrical releases a year, continuing to build on a strong, curated slate of ancillary/non-theatrical titles. 1091 will continue to lean into categories at which they excel including documentary and action sports, strategic partnerships, and event based releases like last year’s hit, The Dawn Wall.

This realignment of our priorities will more effectively service our filmmakers and the broader content creator community in the next chapter of our growth.

As we continue to navigate an exciting evolving industry landscape and as new content platforms develop, we can say with certainty that 1091 will continue to collaborate and work closely with the independent film community and foster relationships with talented filmmakers. Our goal is to bring high-quality, curated film and television content to global audiences by developing partnerships and technology that help us do so in meaningful ways.

While days like these are hard for us and many of our colleagues, we are thankful to the entire staff for their hard work and dedication. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to us directly.