Another Oklahoman in the movie business comes home as OKC's Prairie Surf Media makes first hire
In its first hire since Prairie Surf Media’s official launch earlier this year, Jesse Liddell has been named executive vice president and general counsel by the Oklahoma production company's co-chairmen, Rachel Cannon and Matt Payne.
As reported by my excellent colleague Steve Lackmeyer, downtown Oklahoma City is set to get tested as a new film production hub after the Oklahoma City Council last month unanimously approved an agreement allowing the Cox Convention Center to be marketed by Prairie Surf Media as a studio with multiple sound stages. Payne and Cannon still have to finalize a lease with the city for the convention center, which is to be replaced by the new Oklahoma City Convention Center later this year.
The proposed Prairie Surf Studios would encompass five studios that could accommodate two simultaneous productions. Lease terms are still to be negotiated with a final agreement expected to be voted on by the OKC Council in December.
Liddell will have oversight in all areas of operations with a focus on attracting global production to Prairie Surf Studios, which will be largest production facility in the region.
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An Oklahoma native, Liddell will return to his hometown of Oklahoma City and maintain a secondary base in Los Angeles, where he’s been a distribution and finance executive in the entertainment industry for over a decade. Liddell, who will report directly to Cannon and Payne, will also help facilitate production deals for Prairie Surf Media, according to a news release.
“We’re very excited to have Jesse join our team at Prairie Surf Media. He is an incredible asset with extensive knowledge in entertainment distribution, and a stellar combination of legal and financing expertise. We love that ‘film and entertainment’ is the industry responsible for bringing him back home,” Cannon and Payne said in a statement.
“Jesse’s deep-rooted partnerships in the entertainment business in Los Angeles, combined with his love for Oklahoma, will help us showcase to the world our state’s rich environmental diversity that can serve as the perfect backdrop for countless stories in television, film, documentaries and commercials.”
Before joining PSM, Liddell worked at LD Entertainment, a prolific independent film studio headquartered in Los Angeles. Liddell was key in leading the distribution and financing efforts of such prestigious films as “Jackie,” starring Natalie Portman, “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” featuring Jessica Chastain, the Lionsgate faith-based drama “I Can Only Imagine,” starring Dennis Quaid and “The Grey,” a survival film led by Liam Neeson.
Liddell also partnered with The Walt Disney Company’s Buena Vista International arm to locate and secure film financing opportunities in domestic and international territories, and is a licensed attorney in the state of Oklahoma.
"After getting a taste of the entertainment business, I fell in love with the business side and found a passion for the monetization of it,” Liddell said in a statement. “This is the only industry in which you can be on the business side primarily, but still have a foot in the creative space. I’m looking forward to bringing both those perspectives to my work at Prairie Surf Media, and most importantly, I’m looking forward to working with such visionary creative executives as Matt and Rachel to help transform our great state into a leader in the entertainment industry."
Prairie Surf Media was founded last year after Cannon, an actor who was moving back to Oklahoma after working in Los Angeles for 18 years, visited with Payne, a screenwriter who had returned home to OKC in 2015. Their venture is backed by a group of investors led by Christian Kanady and his firm Echo Capital.
Prairie Surf Media is an Oklahoma City-based global production studio focused on multi-platform content creation. The company is poised to kickstart the growth of streaming, television and motion picture production in Oklahoma. For more information, go to prairiesurf.com.