Above: Yelena and Elan Hertzberg are the founders of FilmTribe.
FilmTribe Entertainment is celebrating its first anniversary in its new location on Atlanta’s famous Zonolite Road. This side street, just off Briarcliff at the entrance to the Morningside/Virginia-Highland neighborhood, is filled with artsy and health-conscious establishments, marketing companies, even a nature preserve with walking trails.
And now it has FilmTribe, a film production, post and visual effects company, the dream of Elan and Yelena Hertzberg, who are adding to the vision of Atlanta as the new Hollywood.
Elan, born in New York, lived in many states and Israel before his family settled in Los Angeles. He found a passion for the film industry when he saw “Cinema Paradiso,” which won the 1990 Academy Award for best foreign language film.
“It encompassed all the elements that a good movie should have,” Elan said.
Even before he graduated from Beverly Hills High School, he was a regular on production sets, working for his aunt, a set designer. At 17, he was accepted into the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in film.
For over 20 years Elan has produced TV commercials, high-end branded content projects and music videos for clients such as Apple, Coca-Cola, Walmart, Target, NASCAR, Range Rover and the U.S. Navy.
In 1988, Yelena, born in Belarus, moved to Los Angeles with her family. She graduated from Otis College of Art and Design with a B.F.A. in fashion design. She began her career as head designer for BCBG Max Azria, leading to jobs with other major L.A. fashion houses.
Then, like her husband, Yelena was drawn to the film industry. She styled wardrobes for TV commercials, music videos and print. In 2005 she founded Yelena Design, a graphic design, image consulting, branding and event planning company.
The cost of living and the quality of life were two major incentives for the Hertzbergs to move to Atlanta with their children in 2011.
“I still strangely believe that the traffic (in Atlanta) is not as bad as L.A., although I do live five minutes from our office,” Elan said with a smile.
Proximity to Toco Hills and synagogues is an asset for him and others to arrive at morning and evening services on time. Creating balance during the day, staff members regularly meet in the conference room for Torah lunch-and-learns.
In May 2015, the Hertzbergs teamed up with Scott Italiaander, Allen Lipis and Bryan Scibelli to form FilmTribe and realize their dream.
“It is the perfect time for a company of our caliber to be based in Atlanta,” Elan said.
Lipis invested in the company because he knew of Elan’s career as a respected and sought-after line producer.
“Elan always wanted to be a director,” Lipis said. But he’s not the only director at FilmTribe. The company hired eight award-winning directors, whose work can be seen at filmtribeatl.com. FilmTribe also has satellite offices in L.A. and Barcelona.
“We specialize in cutting-edge visual content, incorporating complex VFX shots and full post services for feature films, TV commercials, music videos and corporate projects,” Yelena said.
They’ve dropped cars from helicopters on snowy mountaintops, raced Range Rovers on the Bonneville Salt Flats and captured footage of 18 fighter jets in action. They’ve worked with 100-person crews and budgets of all sizes.
Scibelli, executive vice president and head of digital for FilmTribe, is a master of all things digital. Scibelli studied computer science and graphic arts at Youngstown State but left the IT field for 3D animation and VFX. He trained and worked with the best in his field and in 2004 founded Cinemanix, a VFX and post-production company. Scibelli’s clients include MTV, NASCAR, Walmart and HBO.
On Thursday, June 1, Elan and Rabbi Ariel Asa affixed mezuzot to the doorposts of FilmTribe’s colorful headquarters.
“We want to bring our ethics and moral values into our business practice,” Elan said.
Yelena outlined FilmTribe’s mission: “We know we impact our society through visual messaging. So we use The Force wisely. And we do our work for everyone with the highest levels of quality. And business integrity. With an eye on social responsibility. Plus, we’ve promised the Jedi High Council that we would protect and serve and continue to do our best work.”
FilmTribe’s logo is a bow and arrow. Its tag line is “We shoot it. We kill it. Your audience eats it up.”
“We’re all about being straight shooters both in our work and in how we conduct our business,” Yelena said. She added that FilmTribe is unique because it is a one-stop shop that takes care of all the details, from live-action shooting to full post production. “We’re talking new Hollywood visual impact without the old Hollywood overhead or ego.”
“We at FilmTribe are extremely excited to bring a new caliber of innovative production right here in Atlanta,” Elan said. “It changes the client perception that you need to go to L.A. or New York for that level of quality.”