Vice Media takes controlling stake in Pulse Films

Millennial media company Vice Media has acquired a majority stake in the London-headquartered indie in a bid to expand its programming capabilities across digital, mobile and linear. (Pictured: Shut Up and Play the Hits)
March 29, 2016

Millennial media company and content studio Vice Media has acquired a majority stake in London-headquartered indie Pulse Films in a bid to expand its programming capabilities across digital, mobile and linear.

Founded in 2005 by Thomas Benski and Marisa Clifford, Pulse develops, produces, finances and distributes scripted and unscripted content across all media platforms.

Under the deal, Pulse will receive growth investment from Vice, while continuing as an independent brand, which produced more than 200 projects over the last year alone. The deal will also see Pulse increase its scripted output across film and TV.

Vice first partnered with the indie on the 2012 Sundance Film Festival doc Shut Up and Play the Hits (pictured), about LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy. The collaboration led to a strategic partnership in the U.S. between the two media firms the following year.

Pulse’s most recent credits include Michal Marczak’s All These Sleepless Nights, which received best director accolades at this year’s Sundance Film Festival; Kahlil Joseph’s Arcade Fire film The Reflektor Tapes; and Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s Nick Cave doc, 20,000 Days on Earth.

The firm’s television output includes such unscripted series as ITV1′s The Cruise Ship; MTV International’s Sleeping with the Family; and Channel 4′s Payday and When Björk Met Attenborough.

In 2015, Pulse bolstered its television division with the key senior hires of Roy Ackerman and Emma Cooper as MD and creative director of factual television, respectively. The department currently has projects in the pipeline for a number of international broadcasters across the UK and U.S.

The London studio also teamed with Israeli prodco Abot Hameiri in June last year to launch format company East Entertainment, led by Nathan Eastwood.

Pulse employs 130 people with offices in London, LA, New York, Paris and Berlin.

Vice Media was advised on the transaction by the Paul Weiss law firm and Mathias Gentle Page Hassan LLP. Pulse, meanwhile, was advised by Wiggin LLP and Davis & Gilbert LLP.

“What Shane [Smith], Eddy [Moretti], Andrew [Creighton] and Spike [Jonze] have built will give me and my team the perfect platform to take our business to the next level,” said Thomas Benski, CEO and co-founder of Pulse Films, in a statement.

“This deal will bolster our respective commitment to create relevant, brave and popular films, TV shows and digital content,” he continued. “Leveraging our complimentary skills, talent and resources will not only amplify our output and reach but provide us the resources and freedom to continue to grow while retaining our culture and identity.”

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.