27 Jun LMU: Relationships Matter
Tanner Kling and Chris Hanada
Digital media entrepreneurs, LMU ’00 and ’99
Hanada and Kling’s recent producing and directing credits include the 2016 WGA award-winning and Webby-nominated series Heroes Reborn: Dark Ma ers for NBC, ABC Digital’s series This Isn’t Working with YouTube star Lisa Schwartz, and children’s show Li le Big Awesome for Amazon, to name a few.
Chris Hanada and Tanner Kling of Retrofit Films both went to LMU, and even though they technically didn’t meet at LMU, they met because of LMU.
Hanada, who was a year ahead of Kling, had an internship at Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner’s C/W Productions. When that internship turned into a full time job, Hanada helped Kling, who he met through LMU connections, get brought on as an intern.
After graduation, Kling was also hired by C/W on a full-time basis. And when they say full time, they mean full time—working pretty much around the clock and in close quarters on the production of Vanilla Sky. “When Chris and I first started at Cruise/Wagner,” says Kling, “it was a very small company of about eight people. You got really tight with the people you worked with, because they were the only people you’d see.”
A few years later, they decided to take a leap of faith, pool their resources, work their connections and launch Retrofit Films out of Hanada’s garage. To provide some stability, they pursued an idea culled from the Wall Street Journal about converting home movies into new digital formats. This notion of “retrofitting” took on a new meaning when Warner Brothers Marketing commissioned them
to create a new thing called “webisodes” for a new thing called “branded content” promoting their series, Smallville. “Nobody had done this kind of derivative web series, but broadband started supporting streaming video and it became our primary target to go after this business,” says Hanada.
Eleven years later, they’ve built a full-service, multifaceted digital media company, which prides itself on staying on the cusp of evolving formats, and producing a broad spectrum of projects for clients ranging from the major studios to the NBA. At the same time, they’re doing what they originally set out to do: developing and producing digital series and independent features with Kling directing and Hanada producing. In a digital world where the rules are still being written, Hanada says, “We’ve earned a reputation for being the guys who can figure things out.”