Who: Nila Lighting Systems, which makes LED lighting modules for the entertainment industry, is self-funded by Hollywood techie Jim Sanfilippo, (he worked as a grip on films including “Ride Around the World” and “Minority Report.”) Sanfilippo says the company can last on current funds until the end of this year, at which point he hopes to raise additional money, possibly in a VC round.
Why: Nila had its prototype product available in June and expects to be ready to start shipments towards the end of October. “Our technology is trying to reinvent the way people think about lighting their film set,” said Sanfilippo.
What: Sanfilippo purchases LED lights from a manufacturer for $2.50 to $5 each. The less expensive lights give off a subtle green tint, which would be less noticeable if the system used more expensive LEDs. If customers want to change the slightly-off light color, Sanfilippo recommends using a light gel (translucent material) that costs approximately 25 cents for color correction. The entire system will retail for $3000.
The Nila Lighting System can produce as high as 80 lumens per watt and uses 50 to 75 percent less electricity than more traditional tungsten or hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide (HMI) lights that are currently used to light sets. These traditional systems, which Nila competes with, are manufactured and sold by companies such as ARRI, Mole-Richardson, and LTM.
In addition to facing competition from these lighting companies, Nila competes with Litepanels, another company focused on bringing LED lighting to the entertainment industry. Sanfilippo says he isn’t concerned about competition from Litepanels because their largest fixture is still much smaller than Nila’s offering, which he says puts out three to four times the amount of light of Litepanels’ offering.
Where: Nila is located in Los Angeles, Calif.
When: Nila was officially founded in 2004. Sanfilippo said he began tinkering with the idea of making LED lighting systems for the entertainment industry back in 2002 after being on a set when a 1200-watt HMI light fixture with flawed glass exploded, releasing mercury vapor into the air. “I enjoy eating fish, and I don’t want my fish laced with mercury,” he told us.