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By Nikki Cabus

South Florida-based BrandStar acquires Lens End Media with production presence in Washington D.C. market

Read Time 3 Minutes

South Florida-based BrandStar, a production and strategic marketing company, has acquired Lens End Media, a full-service video production agency. 

BrandStar is a solutions-driven, fully horizontally and vertically integrated production, marketing, public relations and digital agency. They offer everything you would find at a full-service marketing firm, but with a twist –  focusing on positively impacting people’s lives. Fueled by the collective passion of entrepreneurs, creatives, technologists, and thinkers, BrandStar prides itself in being “Marketing Matchmakers” – connecting people with brands to do life better. Utilizing a combination of creative storytelling, marketing strategy, results-driven media, technology innovation, and unrivaled television production capabilities, BrandStar has succeeded in giving startups a national footprint, and national companies a global one.

Founded in 2020 by Ibrahim Zafar, Lens End Media excels in holistic high-impact video production services, creating and producing high quality content. Through use of the latest technology, inclusive of AI, Lens End Media is optimizes processes across digital channels as well as integrates the ads across impact campaigns that drive results. Serving clients across the music, sports, nonprofit, live events and auto industry sectors, Lens End has earned a reputation for their ability to create high-impact content in a cost-effective manner.

“I am so proud to partner with BrandStar and its diverse ecosystem,” said Ibrahim Zafar. “Collaborating with the existing BrandStar Studios production team, along with tapping into the organization’s ecosystem of top marketing agencies makes this a win/win for us.”

BrandStar, which has helped pioneer virtual and mixed-reality production, has three studios across the tri-county area of South Florida. With Lens End Media, BrandStar now has a production presence in the coveted Washington, DC/Maryland/Virginia market and surrounding communities. Lens End Media is based in Washington, DC, with clients across the U.S. and globe, covering music, sports, nonprofit, live events and auto industries.

Some notable clients include Walgreens, Deloite, Stellantis, LEGO Group, Georgetown University Hospital, Red Nose Day, NBA and former NFL athletes. Lens End Media will continue to operate out of its current location, with Ibrahim Zafar as CEO of the organization, along with its current staff of video professionals.

“We are very excited to be working with Ibrahim and his team,” said Mark Alfieri, Founder & CEO of BrandStar. “In a very short period of time, he has established a reputation for delivering excellence and true innovation across many facets of the production spectrum. He is a wonderful addition to our full slate of production offerings.”

BrandStar is also acclaimed for its award-winning TV programming winning awards such as the 44th Annual Telly Awards in 2023. The BrandStar programming airs on Lifetime Television, Bloomberg, FOX Business, and numerous syndicated outlets, and includes shows such as Military Makeover with Montel, Designing Spaces, The Balancing Act, Inside the Blueprint and Access Health.

The acquisition of Lens End Media complements recent additions to BrandStar’s ecosystem of companies, which includes Indiana-based Britton Marketing & Design Group, and Ft. Lauderdale-based Wizard Digital.

To learn more about BrandStar and their portfolio of companies, visit www.brandstar.com/companies

By Nikki Cabus

Nicole Oropesa named President of BrandStar Entertainment

Read Time 2 Minutes

BrandStar a solutions-driven, fully horizontally and vertically integrated production and strategic marketing company, has named Nicole Oropesa President of BrandStar Entertainment, its pioneering branded entertainment division.

BrandStar Entertainment is renowned for its award-winning television shows, offering companies of all sizes unparalleled opportunities to forge stronger connections with their audiences. Whether opting for our custom branded integrations on our national and local television shows, leveraging our digital services to deepen your connection with your audience, or partnering to build ‘something bigger’ together. Content is king at BrandStar Entertainment, no matter the platform.

Nicole Oropesa has been a driving force of BrandStar’s growth for the past 15 years and is an original producer of flagship show, The Balancing Act, which is the longest-running television show on Lifetime and hosted by Montel Williams.

“Nicole’s dedication, expertise, and journey with BrandStar exemplifies her exceptional leadership. Her vision and passion for the industry makes her an invaluable asset,” said Mark Alfieri, Founder & CEO of BrandStar.

“I’ve observed the leadership qualities she embodies through her previous role, along with a demonstrated track record of not only optimizing our shows’ potential but also dedicating herself to unlocking the full professional and personal capabilities of her team members. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

In her newly assumed position, she will leverage her extensive 25-year background in the branded entertainment industry to spearhead the division’s efforts in broadening BrandStar’s array of show properties. These properties encompass renowned programs such as Military Makeover with Montel, BELatina, Designing Spaces, Inside the Blueprint, and Access Health.

“As the newly appointed President of BrandStar Entertainment, I am deeply honored and enthusiastic about the journey ahead. With a dedicated team and exceptional show properties, I am committed to leading us to new heights of success,” adds Oropesa.

“Our focus will not only be on delivering outstanding programs, but also on nurturing the talents and potential of our team members. I look forward to the exciting collaborations and opportunities that lie ahead for our company.”

Prior to her new role, Oropesa was Executive Vice President of Programming with a focus on business development, company culture and marketing. One of the many impactful initiatives she has created is the company’s social responsibility and community engagement division, BrandStar Cares. Oropesa lives and breathes the culture of BrandStar which has an influence on the talented, high-performance, teams she builds.

To learn more about BrandStar, visit www.brandstar.com

By Nikki Cabus

BrandStar Studios takes home two prestigious awards at the 44th annual Telly Awards 2023

Read Time 4 Minutes

The Telly Awards has announced its 44th annual winners after a record-breaking year for entries. BrandStar Studios takes home not one, but two, awards this year!

The Telly Awards is the world’s largest honor for video and television across all screens. This year’s winners include some of the most prominent global brands and companies alongside smaller and independent production houses, including Cut+Run, Netflix, Disney Parks, Media.Monks, Paramount, National Geographic Society, and dynastic NBA team the Golden State Warriors.

Founded in 1979 to originally honor commercials made for cable and local TV, The Telly Awards has continually refreshed its categories to honor the evolving, broad range of work being made today – work that reflects the trends, issues, and topical matters of each year. This season, the Tellys unveiled categories to better recognize work across Pro Bono and CSR, video journalism, and those pushing boundaries across virtual production.

“The caliber of the work this season truly has reflected the theme of breaking out and standing out,” said The Telly Awards Executive Director Sabrina Dridje. “Our industry is experimenting with new technologies like never before, crafting truly compelling stories to draw attention to some of the world’s most pressing issues, and companies big and small are turning to more sustainable practices to break the cycle of past production processes.”

The Telly Awards’ 44th annual edition – “Break through the static” – boasted nearly 13,000 entries from across the globe, the most in a decade, with submissions flowing in from the US, Middle East, UK and Canada, as well as strong entries from Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and as widespread as Afghanistan, Sweden, New Zealand, Jamaica, and South Africa. 

BrandStar Entertainment and BrandStar Studios both shines bright with a double victory at the Telly Awards 2023 bringing home two bronze awards!

  • B2B Branded Content
    • Inside the Blueprint – Going Electric, Going Green: Forklifts for a Sustainable Planet
    • Senior Associate Producer, Robert Holodak, BrandStar
    • As the world’s largest supplier of forklifts and material handling equipment, Toyota Material Handling will help bring your company to the next level. For more than 50 years, this global market leader has successfully helped companies worldwide operate at their highest levels of efficiency and workloads.
  • Health & Safety Branded Content
    • Access Health – The Importance of Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease
    • Senior Producer/Writer, Amy Robinson, BrandStar
    • Join host Ereka Vetrini for an in-depth discussion on managing your brain health. Panelists will discuss the differences between healthy aging and Alzheimer’s, as well as reducing your risk of cognitive decline. Plus, we’ll also meet two very special advocates.

In the TV production business for close to 30 years, BrandStar’s founders made their mark through programs such as Access Health, Inside the Blueprint, The Balancing Act, Military Makeover, and Designing Spaces. Each show has a goal of helping people just be a little better at life.

Prominently displayed near the front entrance of BrandStar’s 43,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility in Deerfield Beach, you will notice over 140 Telly Awards honoring the television and video production for multiple show airing on the Lifetime Television Network.

Along with the awards themselves, The Telly Awards continues to connect with its audience year round and provide a valuable platform for thought leadership and community. This season’s highlights included the expansion of The Telly Awards global screenings to include the production hub of Atlanta, and a packed panel with partner Green The Bid focused on sustainable production.

Meanwhile, season two of The Telly Awards Podcast made its triumphant return bringing together two leaders from the video and television community with similar expertise in different disciplines – including a candid conversation between Tribeca Enterprises and Alamo Drafthouse. The Telly Awards’ unfiltered, unrehearsed interview series “Hot Takes” also returned with industry experts on hot-button topics, with this year’s programming covering the impact of AI on the animation industry, how to stand out as a freelancer in a crowded market, and the critical work of partner We Are Parable in exhibiting Black Cinema.

The fan favorite, the “People’s Telly Awards”, which were chosen by the public, went to a diversified, solid roster of creative and production talent, from Netflix and MTV Entertainment Studios to Paramount Brand Studio and Sesame Workshop.

To learn more about BrandStar, visit https://brandstar.com/

By Nikki Cabus

Hi-tech production BrandStar Studios expands to Miami-Dade through new multi-year partnership

Read Time 4 Minutes

BrandStar Studios has inked a multi-year agreement to offer virtual production capabilities at GRUP MEDIAPRO’S facilities in Miami, Florida.

One of South Florida’s largest and most experienced production studios, BrandStar Studios has state-of-the-art cinematic technology and a dedicated team of artists and engineers that produce original content with stunning in-camera visual effects (ICVFX) rendered in real-time – allowing creatives to see their scenes unfold as they are captured and composed on set.

The venture will be called ‘BrandStar Studios at GRUP MEDIAPRO,’ and is BrandStar’s first studio facility in Miami-Dade County, complementing its existing Broward County location and Palm Beach County studio within Lynn University. BrandStar established itself in Miami-Dade in 2021 through a merger with Coral Gables-based KrepsPR & Marketing, who will be supporting the partnership through its integrated services.

With locations in Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach and now Miami, BrandStar Studios offers five Virtual Production stages, feature state-of-the-art LED video walls capable of providing In-camera Virtual Production with immersive environments for producing TV shows, movies, commercials, music videos, podcasts, hybrid events and much more all powered by Unreal Engine software, the world’s most advanced real-time 3D creation tool.

Spain-based GRUP MEDIAPRO, a multimedia conglomerate with expansive experience in content creation, production and distribution for television and film, has had a presence in the U.S. for more than 25 years, and boasts a team of 200 broadcast professionals. They currently offer production services out of their studios in Miami for entities such as ESPN, CNN, beIN Sports, HolaTV, Hemisphere Media Group, CONCACAF and many others.

The agreement calls for BrandStar to design, build and install the largest LED Wall in South Florida in their new 9,900 sf studio, along with providing management and support services needed to operate fully the in-camera Virtual Production system. It also includes a revenue sharing component along with 2,000 square feet of office space to house BrandStar’s staff.

“We are extremely pleased to have reached an agreement to further GRUP MEDIAPRO’S vast offerings,” said Irantzu Diez-Gamboa, CEO, MEDIAPRO North America. “BrandStar has a stellar reputation as an industry leader in- Production with a specialty in real time Virtual Production, and we’ve no doubts that this will be an extremely positive relationship.”

The fully operational studio includes a 1,000 panel LED wall that measures 100 feet long and 23 feet tall and is capable of providing immersive environments for filming movies, series, TV shows, commercials, music videos and hybrid events. The system will feature Unreal Engine software, the world’s most advanced real-time 3D creation tool, allowing real-time shooting while exponentially reducing editing and post-production work. The LED volume uses the latest technology allowing for state-of-the-art resolution.

“This state-of-the-art masterpiece is set to transform your creative visions into captivating realities. Get ready to step into immersive worlds and bring your visions to life like never before,” posted BrandStar Studios.

“The film industry is one of Miami-Dade’s most special economic drivers,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “Expanding the footprint of Miami-Dade County’s film and production capabilities is one of our key strategic initiatives, and we are honored to see this new partnership bring a first-of-its-kind studio to our county. I look forward to seeing a new level of production coming into Miami-Dade thanks to this new partnership.”

“As Miami-Dade County emerges as a hub for innovation and creativity, the development of virtual reality redefines the boundaries of TV and film,” said Senator René Garcia, County Commissioner District 13. “Harnessing the power of technology paves the way for a future where imagination knows no bounds and offers unparalleled opportunities for our workforce.”

“Almost 80% of all of Florida’s TV and film production is realized in Miami-Dade County,” said Marco Giron, Film and Entertainment Commissioner, Miami-Dade County Office of Film and Entertainment. “The world of virtual production/reality offerings is changing literally by the day, so having this level of technology being offered within the County will only expand our region’s capabilities and reach.”

“BrandStar is absolutely thrilled to open a facility in Miami-Dade County, expanding our services to an entirely new audience,” said Mark Alfieri, Founder & CEO of BrandStar. “The ability to combine our expertise of producing over 300 episode of Television and over 1,000 commercial video projects per year with GRUP MEDIAPRO’s team of industry professionals is sure to create exponential opportunities for Miami-Dade’s TV and film industry. A true win/win for all.”

In a previous press release, Alfieri had stated that, “There’s a reason the technology leverages ‘Unreal. It allows us to create super high-end productions quickly, utilizing the same in-camera virtual environments that major studios are deploying to film their most technology-intensive programming. We will use this technology to produce music videos, virtual events, high-end commercials, television shows, feature films, basically anything anyone can dream up, we can produce it.”

BrandStar is using this advanced technology in production of their own shows, which include The Balancing Act and Military Makeover with Montel, airing on Lifetime and with some of their largest clients in the industry.

To learn more about BrandStar Studios, visit www.brandstarstudios.com

By Nikki Cabus

Entrepreneur’s reality show ‘Elevator Pitch’ features Florida startups; now casting for season 9

Read Time 5 Minutes

The first 60 seconds of a business pitch might matter more than anything else when trying to grab the attention of an investor. On a streaming pitch show brought to you by Entrepreneur Media, entrepreneurs are put to the ultimate pitch test on “Elevator Pitch.”

In each episode of the show, entrepreneurs are challenged to pitch their business, product and/or idea . . . on camera . . . in an elevator . . . to a board of prestigious investors such as former CEO of Netflix, Marc Randolph. If the team of investors like what they hear, the business owner is invited into the board room to see if they can strike a deal.

Speaking in front of investors of this caliber is already nerve wracking in itself, but the pitches are on a timer and must also be one minute or less. The entrepreneurs can’t see the investors or their reactions as they pitch. The entrepreneurs have to get it right the first time or their opportunity is cut short.

After each pitch, the investors each vote whether they want to hear more from that entrepreneur or not. If the investors likes what they hear, the elevator doors open to reveal the boardroom, and the business owner/executive is invited into the board room to discuss further and negotiate. Contestants have the chance to walk away with life-changing funding, mentorship from the smartest minds in business and a personal and brand-defining moment.

Launched in 2017, the show has since accumulated 208 million views and counting across YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and, EntrepreneurTV. After 5 1/2 years, 350 entrepreneurs have been accepted onto the show and 15 contestants were based in Florida just last season.

Here are some of those Florida entrepreneurs:

  • Rob Kornaherns, CEO of PowerPanel, an innovative solar power company (Ft. Lauderdale)
  • Edward McGovern from CERA, a critical response app (Davie)
  • Lisa and Mark Burginger from Quibits, an educational toy company that encourages creativity and building (Orlando)
  • Issac Hicks from SlipBot Inc., SaaS for reinsurance slip-processing (Miami)
  • Anthony Tranchida and Scott Mobley, Founders of  Grill Rescue, a grill brush company (Ft. Lauderdale)
  • Jared McCluskey and Alec Tremaine, The Mirror, open-source gaming creation and play platform (Miami)
  • Ashland Stansbury, Because Intelligence, a no-code platform to optimize Shopify messaging and product updates (Tampa)
  • Emily Alexandra Guglielmo, American Mermaid, planet- and ocean-friendly cosmetics (Orlando)
  • Gina Scorza, Dope Minerals, a magnesium and CBD cream that helps with body pains, cramps and headaches (Sanford)
  • Johnny Maghzal, Togal.AI, a construction estimation software platform that reduces tedious work from taking weeks to minutes (Miami)
  • Brandon Feinstein of Fit Oven, healthy and hot vending machine meals (Delray Beach)
  • Jarrod Stoldt of Skin the Tix, an innovative day spa (Melbourne)

More than $2 million were secured in deals on season 8 and some of those companies were from right here in South Florida. From Miami to Delray Beach, founders found themselves walking out with deals from investors who were ready to help fund and grow their companies. 

In a money-flowing episode, Jared McCluskey and Alec Tremaine from The Mirror were able to convince our investors that the metaverse is where the money is and what the difference between a “want to have” and “need to have” is. They took home $150k on $37.5 M valuation and an opportunity to work with speaker, marketing maven and investor, Swan Sit.

Sometimes a pitch moves investors to tears, and sometimes it moves them to dance. Togal.AI, has an innovative product that has their sights set on disrupting the decades-old construction industry. The company landed a deal for $50k on $30 M cap with investor Swan Sit.

Impressively, with offers from all three investors, Brandon Feinstein from Fit Oven took home a deal worth $100k for 15% and a chance to work with investor Swan Sit. She is on fire!

The largest of the deals closed was for our South Florida entrepreneurs was Isaac Hicks from SlipBot Inc.

Teaching moments abounded in this episode. When one investor suddenly changed their offer mid-deal, see how the Isaac responded under pressure winning over investor Marc Randolph, Co-Founder & Former CEO of Netflix for a deal worth $200k for 5% of the company at a $4 M valuation.

In a recent Entrepreneur Media article, Isaac explained, “We are solving a very simple problem in heavily regulated industries: There is this enormous paperwork burden and very highly paid people are spending hours a day doing tedious data entry tasks. At Slipbot, we have developed an intuitive little AI tool that turns this huge burden into a simple drag-and-drop.”

When asked what he plans to the with the investment funds, Isaac responded, “going to build out our technical team a bit more and step on the gas as far as product maturity is concerned. We have a huge vision for where we can take this technology, and the investment is going to add more fuel to that fire.”

With 5 1/2 years and 84 episodes under their belt, Entrepreneur Media is now casting for season 9. They are in search of good companies with a great business, product and/or idea with entrepreneurs that are dynamic and have interesting stories. The company must be active and have a professional look. Entrepreneurs who have products or services that are ready for investment and who have a specific plan for how that investment can help them grow are invited to apply to pitch.

If you are you a serious and passionate entrepreneur with a business, product, or idea that’s ready for the ultimate pitch – in an elevator – you can apply today. Although not everyone is chosen, we have found that even if a company is not selected they still are given great exposure from being on television. Are you ready to blow open those elevator doors and change your life forever!!

Isaac’s advice to any entrepreneurs on the fence about applying to pitch, ‘Do it, 100%. The worst case is that you get some good feedback and learn from it. The best case is that you get the money, validation and clout associated with having a titan of industry sign off on what you are doing.”

He continued, “It’s one thing to say ‘Here is my business’, and quite another to say ‘here is my business, and here is someone with monumental success who believes in what I’m doing.’ The key to winning in this game is learning and growing as fast as possible. If the thought of going on a show like this scares you, and if you don’t feel ready, that means you should probably go ahead and do it.”

Applications are now open for Entrepreneur Media’s Elevator Pitch Season 9 – APPLY HERE!

By Nikki Cabus

Deerfield-based BrandStar Studios calls entrepreneurs for the Billion Dollar Showdown

Read Time 3 Minutes

BRANDSTAR STUDIOS, a division of BRANDSTAR, is pleased to announce a strategic joint-venture with nationally acclaimed RONINFILM, to form BrandStar Film. Roninfilm CEO, Peter Hyoguchi and President, Joan Webb have relocated from the West Coast to join BrandStar Film at their South Florida hub.

BrandStar Film is the next generation of film production, located at BrandStar Studios, South Florida’s leading Production Hub. The 43,000s q ft facility is home to a 13’ x 100’ plus LED video wall with three 27’ x 9’ ft LED ceilings features one of the few 1.9mm pixel pitch LED Volume stages in the country – integrating 3D Unreal Engine environments, and modular sets for both hybrid/virtual events and productions.

Constantly aware of the industry’s rapid evolution, this multi-million-dollar studio allows BrandStar Film to provide the newest, most cutting-edge technologies in the world of production, including Virtual Production, extended reality, augmented reality, and mixed-reality capabilities, all in real-time. The studio’s virtual capabilities are endless.

“We can basically put anyone, anywhere, in real-time,” said Mark Alfieri, CEO of BrandStar Film. “The combination of equipment and technology makes us a true next-generation studio. We are comparable to the most sophisticated movie studios in California and having Peter and Joan partner with BrandStar Film, offers the highest level of creativity and expertise in the business.”

Already recognized as South Florida’s largest production studio, the upgrade also includes implementation of the state-of-the-art, Unreal Engine software, the world’s most opened and advanced real-time 3D creation tool, which virtually renders the most complex of sets, allowing real-time shooting, while exponentially reducing editing and post-production work.

“Having the ability to see the real-time rendering of visual effects eliminates the need to wait until post-production and exponentially cuts costs. BrandStar Film is already ahead of the curve, with its multi-million-dollar LED Volume and Unreal Engine technology. As a filmmaker, there’s no better place to be. Our LED soundstage is twice the resolution of the Mandalorian. Its HDR and 12K resolution is the highest quality virtual production facility in America.”

Peter Hyoguchi’s career began when he won a George Lucas youth film festival, at the age of fifteen, for his short sci-fi called, The Future’s Future. At eighteen, he directed his first feature film; an adaptation of the play No Exit and has been making films ever since. Peter wrote and directed First, Last and Deposit, winning Best Feature at both New York and San Francisco Independent Film Festivals and distributed on many platforms including Netflix and IFC. Hyoguchi has directed four feature films, hundreds of shorts, TV pilots, documentaries, music videos and commercials. He is the founder and CEO of Roninfilm, which specializes in Virtual  Production.

Joan Webb brings extensive experience in business development, VC backing, representation and marketing. Her former clients include such notable figures as James Cameron, Oliver Stone, Doug Trumbull, Tim Burton, Coen Brothers, companies such as: IMAX, Pixar, Sony, DreamWorks, MGM, Disney and feature films: Shrek I, II & III; Toy Story; Lion King; and The Amazing Spider-Man.

BrandStar Film is now casting for a brand new show called ‘Billion Dollar Showdown and calling all entrepreneurs in South Florida to apply!

Calling aspiring entrepreneurs from all stages of the game! We are casting for a brand-new television series. Do you have what it takes to run a billion-dollar company? Whether it is street smarts, or executive intellect, we are looking for the next tycoon. Apply to compete in the upcoming series premiere of Billion Dollar Showdown and you’ll be one step closer to the biggest prize in TV history!

South Florida-based BrandStar acquires Lens End Media with production presence in Washington D.C. market
Nicole Oropesa named President of BrandStar Entertainment
BrandStar Studios takes home two prestigious awards at the 44th annual Telly Awards 2023
Hi-tech production BrandStar Studios expands to Miami-Dade through new multi-year partnership
Entrepreneur’s reality show ‘Elevator Pitch’ features Florida startups; now casting for season 9
Deerfield-based BrandStar Studios calls entrepreneurs for the Billion Dollar Showdown