Once-hyped digital and traditional film company Blowtorch Entertainment has all but shut down, the latest victim of the long-tail impact of the credit crunch. Blowtorch raised $50 million in a first round led by VC firm Ignition Partners in late 2007; VentureWire reports that the majority of the raise came in the form of debt from an undisclosed group of hedge funds—backers that unfortunately pulled out (or shut down themselves) during last year’s financial crisis.
CEO Kelly Rodriques (pictured) had tried unsuccessfully to raise more capital since then, after returning roughly 90 percent of the financing to the now-defunct funds; the S.F.-based company’s board, which included execs from MediaVest, MTV and major Hollywood studios, has since disbanded.
The company has the rights to, or is in post-production on two films—one of which, Tenure, is slated for a theater release this September—but it’s a far cry from the roster of original online series, films and social media projects that Rodriques hoped Blowtorch would be producing. (He told us about the company’s future plans in an in-depth interview right after it had raised the funding).
Moving forward, Rodriques expects to pay back the remainder of the funding with proceeds from the two properties currently in development, and then “hunker down” and hope for more investment. (At the moment, Blowtorch doesn’t even have a functioning website).
“I’m still hopeful,” Rodriques told VentureWire. “But I’d be wrong if I told you I wasn’t disappointed.” He’s currently serving as an operating partner at Ignition, focusing on investments in the youth market.
By Tameka Kee