Nov 12, 2021

Why We Invested: Circus

Over the past few years, Vancouver-based Circus has been completely transforming how studios and content creators do business. How? By giving them the power to manage their business affairs for all content under just one dashboard—including fully-digitized onboarding and time-tracking. They’ve also been helping save the planet by eliminating waste that’s generated by paper-based start packs and time sheets, something that’s been an industry standard since the silent film era. 

The industry responded with overwhelming enthusiasm, with approximately 70% of Canada’s film/TV labor workforce on-boarded onto Circus already, and major studios like Netflix, Disney+, Warner Bros and Paramount, quickly signing on.

Circus is now expanding to the U.S., and Expa is proud to have supported the vision of co-founders Daniel Domachowski (CEO) and Nigel Fish (CTO) with pre-seed investment, resources, and tailored guidance from the early stages of their journey and through their rapid growth.

There’s no doubt that Circus is on the verge of something truly big and we have some exciting plans to continue to work together on revolutionizing an industry that spends hundreds of billions of dollars.

An Innovative Way to Solve a Problem

Changes within the entertainment industry tend to happen slowly, but ask any crew member what it is that they hate most about commencing work on a new production and you’ll likely get the same answer: start packs.

The start pack, which has been around since silent film days, is extensive onboarding paperwork that every employee is required to complete regardless of the number of days they might work on a production. More often than not, they are filling out the same information, over and over. 

For studios, it means that an accountant must spend up to 45 minutes on each start pack, costing them tens of thousands of dollars in labor costs. ​​On a typical season of a series, the accounting team spends over 1,500 hours processing them.

For the planet, it means that thousands of trees must be cut down to provide for the millions of sheets of paper being wasted unnecessarily.

Simply put, it’s an outdated model. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

What began as a search to solve an old problem has grown to become the ultimate digital solution for handling business affairs—and the ultimate hub for both studios and crews.

Change is here

The pandemic had shut down productions across the world, but when cameras started rolling again, every studio was on the lookout for sustainable, remote solutions. Luckily, the Circus team has spent the last five years building just the thing. The industry quickly embraced the Circus platform, with studios and networks like Netflix, Warner Bros, Hulu, Apple, Paramount, Disney+, MGM, Hallmark, and CW, jumping on board.

Within Canada, Circus has on-boarded approximately 70% of the labor workforce, handled about half of the country’s productions, and digitized over 100,000 start packs across 600+ productions—saving approximately 3 million sheets of paper in just a year’s time. 

How it works

  • Circus allows production companies to set up under one platform, regardless of region. 
  • Studios are then able to customize and automate their workflows and approvals, capture crucial payroll and tax credit docs, sign digital contracts, build and edit contracts, track times, and manage their teams all in one secure cloud.
  • Crews are provided with QR codes that will allow them to access the onboarding process.
  • Circus pre-fills start packs and team members can roll over their work profile from production to production
  • Circus automates approvals, allowing anyone to sign start packs from anywhere in the world, allowing payroll to be processed faster
  • Lastly, Circus collates and combines PDFs for auditing and wrap so assistants no longer need to remove staples, scan and organize docs into bankers boxes.

Thus, the old model is disrupted.

Canada has served as the ultimate proof-of-concept for the U.S. market—and we can’t wait to take over.

To learn more about Circus, visit:

Recent news