Interview with Peter Santoro of FotoKem

Posted on May 12th, 2016 by Leonard Alsfeld


Recently, we had an amazing opportunity to sit down and chat with Peter Santoro, FotoKem’s main point of contact for their New Orleans, Louisiana operation. Peter talked candidly about FotoKem’s history, their current projects and the recent changes in the Louisiana film industry.

What’s your role within FotoKem?

My duties have included setting up 2 satellite facilities, one in New Orleans the other in Atlanta, Georgia. I work closely in sales along with our operations staff to see that our clients needs are met.

How do you describe what FotoKem does?

FotoKem is an independently owned, full-service post production facility that has become a respected resource for the worldwide creative community. Since 1963 the company has provided expertise, high-end solutions and innovative technologies to filmmakers at every level, from large-scale studio pictures to independent productions. FotoKem offers a broad spectrum of services, including digital intermediates, file-based mobile dailies, film and video finishing, audio mixing and mastering, visual effects, restoration, and production rentals. FotoKem has expanded over the years with the acquisition of Keep Me Posted, L.A. Studios, and Margarita Mix, and has facilities in Atlanta, New Orleans, and New York.

Locally, we specialize in the front-end portion of post-production – the digital capture of images and sound, we bring the digital files into our proprietary software program nextLAB. We sync and color the digital files and make sure every file (sound or picture) is transferred and archived. When the project has a final edit we do the post finishing and deliverables, typically in Burbank, California.

FotoKem looks like a collection of businesses, did it start like this? Or did it start as a conglomerate type?

FotoKem started as a film processing photochemical lab 53 years ago. 16mm, then 35mm mm. and then 65/70mm.  We are basically the last photochemical motion picture film processing and printing lab in Hollywood.  Today we are also offering cutting edge technologies in the digital realm – it is amazing the depth of resources that our support staff brings to projects.  We’ve been very fortunate in New Orleans and Georgia with a talented and stable staff – technical support from main campus is 24/7 as our turnaround on projects is mission critical.

What’s your view of the impact of the changes made in the legislature last year?
It seems Studios and Indies have slowed down work coming into Louisiana. That being said, I am seeing a pick up in production. There is incentive money available and we have infrastructure and depth of crews in place. We are here and open for business. There is a terrific group of indigenous film makers developing in Louisiana. These film makers are asking how we can help them with the front-end and the finishing processes in order to capture more of the tax incentives.

What projects are you most excited about?

We’ve done over 50 projects in the 4 years that we’ve been here including Badlands, Astronaut Wives Club, Dallas Buyers Club, 22 Jump Street, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Elvis & Nixon and we just completed another Kevin Spacey project Billionaire Boys Club. Oprah Winfrey Network has a series in New Orleans called Queen Sugar that we are involved with. It’s an exciting time, there’s a lot going on, we take it a day at a time.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

We have a tremendous amount of diversity in our projects, genres, locations and people. I’m in New Orleans but can be working on projects anywhere – we have a global reach.

Mapping out workflow with our clients is challenging at times and we strive to set things on the right tracks from the start. I enjoy working with all of our clients, our staff and our friends – Lenny Alsfeld and FBT Film & Entertainment included!