Investors end High Road Productions, sell property; Lazarevich goes solo

For more than 20 years, world-class tabletop shooter Peter Elliott operated out of a studio he owned that was cater-cornered from Harpo Studios on W. Washington Blvd. The single, original studio building flowed into adjacent property bought by Elliott over the years. Eighteen months ago the retired Elliott sold his property for a reported $4.8 million to a trio of local investors, who bankrolled High Road Productions, the putative successor company to Peter Elliott. The investors last week closed High Road and sold the entire 17,000-sq. ft. building complex to a new, start-up television operation, said Philip Denny, one of the investors, with Neal Freeman and an unnamed third partner. (The new property owners wish to remain under wraps until all pieces are in place. ReelChicago readers will get the story ?- a major one impacting the production economy — first, as always.) High Road’s closing after 13 months was due to the “economy bottoming out,” said Denney. “Fundamentally, we’re in the real estate business and don’t know much about production. We did know how to start and run a business, however. We were impressed by Peter’s employees,” as one of the investment inducements in the short-lived company, Denney added. Former High Road director/lenser Tom Lazarevich will go solo as Laz Films. Future plans of executive producer Joy Holbrook and studio manager Sheri Fitzgerald are currently not known. Lazarevich, a former still photographer, had worked for Elliott for 13 years, starting as a grip and assistant. He attracted many of his own clients and also directed/DP’d for Elliott clients. Another Elliott shooter, Mark Klein, left the master after 10 years in 2000 to join Big Deahl Productions, a move that reunited him with executive producer Noreen Szeluga, who had left Elliott after a dozen years. Elliott and Szeluga last month departed Big Deahl to start MK Films, one of the three remaining tabletop companies (Big Deahl and Silent Partner). The former Elliott studio included two two stages, a commercial kitchen, two conference rooms, two client areas, a full workshop and extensive prop storage. Denny is in the process of selling Elliott’s equipment, which includes three motion cameras, three Arriflex cameras, Mitchell 35s, workshop contents “and tons of tons of props and amazing lighting and peripherals,” Denney said. “It’s really a candy story for producers.” For information about equipment sales, call Fitzgerald at 312/733-6992. High Road was located at 1115 W. Washington.