Composer and music producer Ira Antelis has managed to assemble under one roof all four of the enterprises in which he’s a partner.
Antelis was preparing to move his Jira Productions, the music and audio company he runs with sound designer Jim Hoffman, out of its space in Leo Burnett headquarters, where Antelis had been music director for 10 years. “It was time to move on,” he says.
Antelis met Candi Carter, an Oprah Winfrey Show senior producer who was a client of attorney Daryl Jones, his partner with producer Rodney Jerkins in ad music licensing company Artists & Brands, LLC.
Antelis hit it off with Carter, ultimately partnering with her, Jones, Rick Segall and Scott Lang to form the broadcast and branded entertainment production company New Chapter Entertainment, LLC. Jim Olen is the director of branded entertainment.
“I don’t think there’s a company out there that has our background,” Antelis says. “The team works really well together. We come from different angles. Candi is unbelievable and relentless. I’m up early anyway, and I’ll get a text from her at 5 a.m. I might not be the most talented but when everybody else is home sleeping I’m working. I believe that kind of attitude breeds success.”
Antelis heard that Engine Studios’ former space at 1644 N. Honore in Wicker Park was available. He helped arrange for New Chapter, Jira and Artists & Brands to occupy the building’s third floor.
On the second floor is Audiotree, which produces live video recordings of bands’ in-studio performances. Recent sessions feature Fang Island, Archie Powell and the Exports, The Right Now, Young Hines, Howling Brothers. They record three or four bands a week, more than 150 to date.
“I spearheaded the move to put all four ventures I’m working on in one space,” Antelis says. “The way the music industry is now, it’s very hard for a recording studio to exist—everyone’s got their own studio. I don’t think any one of these companies could afford a studio individually, but if we each pay a little, we can afford it.”
Antelis and Barrett’s musical performs Aug. 15-16
Alongside this burgeoning collaboration, Antelis is seeing another longtime project approach fruition. Between Time and Timbuktu, which he adapted with playwright and lyricist Andrew Barrett, will be performed Aug. 15-16 in the Festival of New American Musicals in Los Angeles.
It’s based on a 1972 made-for-PBS NET Playhouse movie that featured characters from Kurt Vonnegut writings including Cat’s Cradle, “Welcome to the Monkey House,” “Harrison Bergeron,” and Happy Birthday, Wanda June. Antelis calls it “the worst movie ever,” but Barrett convinced him of the material’s viability as a musical. After some negotiation with the Vonnegut estate they secured an option.
“The main character in the show wins this jingle contest to be shot into outer space,” says Antelis, who wrote “Be Like Mike” for Gatorade, “Remember the Magic” for Disney, “What You Want is What You Get” for McDonald’s, and “I Got the Blues” for Kraft. “I thought, ‘this I can do.’”
The first performances of the show were at a dance studio in Evanston. They workshopped it at the Hangar Theatre in New York last year. “I think it has finally now found its voice,” Antelis says. “We’re looking for producers to take it to the next level. We know there are a number of people coming next weekend.”