Those in film production know it’s a sprint industry. Orders are ramped up from conception to publication, and then just as quickly resolved and dispersed. Work is spread across a range of on-set, remote, creative and technical teams; Roles assigned and reassigned in a maelstrom of freelancing, revision, and collaboration. As Alan Grow, technical co-founder of Salt Lake City-based film credit business Endcrawl, puts it, “Each film is its own distinctive enterprise with a short but energetic lifespan, its own microeconomy.”
Endcrawl was first developed in 2012 and is now a remotely distributed startup. Endcrawl specifically responds to a final sprint: the surprising amount of work required to create a film’s closing credits. “This list of names and job titles is a real pain for post-production teams,” he explains. “There are issues with motion graphics, hierarchy, timing, rendering and editing. It is difficult to get a consensus from the project stakeholders. It can take a long time to process and set everything. The need for a better solution prompted my (current) co-founder to approach me.”
That co-founder is John “Pliny” Eremic, a film industry veteran who led HBO’s digital delivery processes and has a consulting loan The Great Gatsby. Grow recalls, “Living in New York City, I divided my time between a couple of startups that I co-founded—an art tech company called iLuminate, and a newsreader that was incubated next door The New York Times– and Pliny suggested this idea to me for an end screen software. I thought it was crazy. It was hard to imagine there being a market big enough to support a movie credit business. it was such a niche.
“I gave Pliny some technical advice, but more or less forgot the whole thing. Six months later he invited me to this cocktail party in Soho and we literally started counting the napkins. How many films does mankind make a year? How much are they currently paying for the credits? We must have had one too many because the next day we woke up and realized…”We have just agreed to start an end loan company.'”
Ten years later, the product they developed was used in over 3,000 films and TV series by Academy Award winners for best picture moonlight and nomadic country to shows like King of the Tigers and Rings of Power.
“We took something that everyone hates and made it smooth,” says Alan. “Traditionally, even an in-house designer has technical issues with the credits. They have trouble getting a smooth scrolling motion, they miss typos, the typography is unreadable. But Endcrawl cleans up that workflow, shortening the rendering and editing process and making your credits look great. Anyone can handle it from top to bottom. You don’t have to be a designer.”
Endcrawl offers flat-rate, per-production pricing for everything from student films and short films to indie films and big-budget studio affairs. Although initially focused on credits, the product now also supports “cards”, a type of credits common to TV series.
Endcrawl is just one of several newcomers to the filmtech industry over the past decade. According to Grow, there is a large market for these specialized creative tools. He mentions Frame.io, a cloud-based platform used by media teams to share raw footage and collaborate in what the industry calls “dailies.” As Grow explains, these tools reduce friction and enable developers to tackle complex production challenges. Frame.io was acquired by Adobe for $1.3 billion in 2021.
These creative and technical goals seem to drive Grow’s approach to startup funding overall. “We raised a seed round in 2019, but we are not on a traditional startup funding path,” he explains. “It was led by the Calm Fund, which invests on the premise that companies can be built more sustainably and deliver more predictable results without the pressure of 1,000x, hyper-growth results. It fits with Endcrawl’s philosophy: we’re in this for the long haul and hope to help many more generations of filmmakers complete their films.”
According to the Calm Fund’s website, the team has interests in internet storytelling, niche SaaS offerings, online community platforms, and development tools. They offer a unique blend of revenue and equity-based financing and a more flexible, open-book approach to financing than traditional VCs.
Grow offers one final look that goes beyond filmmaking: “The production of films, TV shows and content in general is a huge and complex market, much of which is done remotely,” says Grow. “Hollywood has been doing this for decades and now, in the wake of the pandemic, I think a lot of other industries could borrow Hollywood’s organizational superpowers. I suspect there is much more opportunity in filmmaking – not just to innovate filmmaking, but to pioneer the future of work as a whole.”