Jeff Molyneaux, Brian Loschiavo & Pastor Alvarado of Riverside Entertainment of Riverside Entertainment: 5 Things We Wish Someone Told Us Before We Became Founders

An Interview With Doug Noll

Doug Noll
Authority Magazine
12 min readFeb 19, 2024

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Work on your business, not in it.

Pastor: We were all guilty of this in the beginning, but mostly out of necessity. We would assume roles on every production (producer, director, cinematographer, DP, editor). With each chapter of the business, we’ve made a conscious effort to take a step back, and that has allowed us to grow.

As part of our interview series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Molyneaux, Brian Loschiavo, and Pastor Alvarado.

Jeff Molyneaux, Brian Loschiavo, and Pastor Alvarado are the founders of Riverside Entertainment. Based in Nashville and Los Angeles, Riverside Entertainment is an award-winning production company and development studio specializing in commercial, promo and original content. Together, they have produced commercial and branded work for Cadillac, Nike, Google, Sony, and Hyundai, as well as promos for Netflix, Disney, Paramount, NBCU, Paramount and more. Their originals include feature music doc Bluebird, the Magnolia series Making Modern with Brooke + Brice, and Jesse Eisenberg and Adrien Brody thriller Manodrome. Riverside was ranked as the top production company on the Inc. 5000 list of Fastest Growing Private Companies in America.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Brian: When I moved to LA, I was laser-focused on making it as a writer/director. I had a couple “close-calls” with some scripts when I got a call from a friend asking if I wanted a freelance gig producing a digital recap show for ABC Family. I was hesitant at first (I’m not exactly the target demo for ABC Family [now Freeform]), but my wife wisely nudged me to take it. That gig led to a full-time job which led to meeting Jeff and Pastor. Moral of the story: be open to all opportunities. You never know where they’ll lead.

Jeff: I didn’t go to film school but I always loved photography. I had no plans to get into this business. Worked in fashion for a while. Worked on Larry King’s security detail in LA. Then I somehow convinced some folks at (the now defunct) Soapnet Network to let me start their new digital production team. I had no clue what I was doing. I had to learn on the job. I was the epitome of “fake it ’til you make it.” Everything I’ve done as a cinematographer and producer is completely self-taught. But that mentality has served me well in starting a company — none of us went to business school, so we’re all learning on the job.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

Jeff: All 3 of the partners worked together at Disney with corporate jobs. I was the first to leave that safety net, move to Nashville and go out on my own. That first year was one of the hardest of my career as well as my personal life. It was a huge decision for me to uproot myself, my wife, as well as a one-year-old daughter, to a new city and start from scratch. It taught me the value of risk vs reward and how you sometimes have to take huge leaps in-order to make changes. I think we all get caught riding the comfort wave once in a while and it’s easy to stay on too long. It was also at a time when not as many newcomers were flooding to Nashville as they are now so I really had to prove myself here all over again. Once that reputation and trust was established, we were able to leverage it in forming Riverside Entertainment.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Jeff: For me, failure wasn’t an option because I had a wife and a young child that trusted me when I told them this crazy plan. I knew what me and my business partners were capable of, so it was just a matter of patience and determination in making sure others knew it too. To be candid, I think that when I started getting closer to the failure is when I tried the hardest to make success an option.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Pastor: We just celebrated the 8-year anniversary of the company, have teams in Nashville and Los Angeles, and have expanded to four distinct business lines. In those 8 years, we managed to grow each year, even growing through COVID and a double-strike in our industry. We’re pretty proud of that.

Brian: I think our resilience comes from the fact that, despite each of us coming from different backgrounds, we were each raised to have an entrepreneurial mindset. We like to take risks and challenge the status quo. That may translate to “grit and resilience” when we face adversity, but it’s really how we approach everything — even in times of success and growth. We’re always challenging each other on what the next chapter of the company will be.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Jeff: Although I didn’t find it funny at the time, I can now think back on it and laugh. When I decided that my wife and I should both quit our jobs and move from Los Angeles to Nashville to pursue my own business, I probably should have bought a house first. I had no idea that you need 3 years of business growth or financials before you can even apply for a loan. So, there we were in the smallest apartment we could find (to keep our overhead as low as possible in the beginning) until we could eventually show the growth of the company. Needless to say, I told Brian this advice before he moved and I was able to save him from that mistake.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Pastor: Something we hear a lot from our clients, directors, DPs and producers is how involved we are from a creative standpoint. A lot of business owners are more focused on operations and business development. For better or worse, the three of us were all creatives before ever owning a company, and we love to collaborate on every project. If any of our hired creatives need support, we can speak their language and be an advocate or liaison between them and the client.

Brian: We each have unique and complementary backgrounds and specialties, so, between the three of us, we can usually triage any problem that comes up in any stage of production.

Jeff: On many sets, Pastor has jumped in to help problem solve for the art department, or Brian with the director or editor, and myself with the Director of Photography. We also take great pride in our hospitality and build strong friendships with our clients and don’t look at them as strictly customers or vendors.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Jeff: Burnout typically stems from you not leading correctly or not delegating the things that don’t matter in the big picture. Take a look at what you can delegate, and take the time to train others to think the way you do. It’s a short-term pain for long term results.

Brian: Whether it’s a 15 second commercial or three-hour epic, there is a constant at the center of everything we do in our industry: storytelling. The love of that is what draws most of us to it. When I’ve experienced burnout, it’s usually because I’m tired of telling the same types of stories. Figure out a way to change that, depending on your risk tolerance. That might be a new career, job, business line or just a passion project you do on the side. Find a way to diversify and satisfy your creativity.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Pastor: There are a few former-colleagues at Disney who were a big part of our early success and continue to be a big part of our client-base.

Brian: When you leave to start your own company, you hope your friends and colleagues will come through on the promise to work with you. We always had to earn it, but our past relationships at Disney definitely helped get Riverside off the ground.

Jeff: And I would say our bankers and lawyers, too. None of us have business degrees, so we needed a lot of guidance in forming and growing the company.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Jeff: People often ask me what I love about my company, and my response is, “hiring as many people as possible.” My drive for this business is to create a revenue stream that allows us to hire more people. Behind every member of our crew is a family, and when we can create jobs that help provide for those families, it’s the best part of owning a business.

Brian: I would say we’re also driven to develop film and TV projects that, while commercially viable, also have purpose. Even if it’s a silly comedy or a dark thriller, we try to find the heart and humanity in anything we produce.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1 . Read as many books on leadership as you can, because even when you think you understand it, it’s always changing.

Jeff: I credit our banker, Courtney Theis, at Pinnacle Bank in Franklin, TN for encouraging me to join a leadership program that she runs based on the book The “E” Myth by Michael Gerber. Hands down, that book changed everything on how I thought about business.

2 . Have an exit strategy.

Brian: We started the company without much thought on selling it or an eventual exit. Our only concern was generating income and chasing the next job or client. It wasn’t until we started getting interest from buyers in the M&A world that we started strategizing what an exit or sale might look like.

3 . Saying no will be the hardest part.

Pastor: The more opportunity you have to hire people, develop their ideas or support projects, the harder it is to manage those requests. You want to help everyone, but it’s impossible.

Jeff: We’ve all been on the other side of “the ask,” so we try our best, but you’re always going to let people down. I remember being on that other side and not understanding why it was so hard for people to give me the most valuable asset there is, TIME.

Brian: As a people-pleaser, this is definitely a hard one for me. But saying no is essential for not stretching yourself or the company too thin.

4 . Work on your business, not in it.

Pastor: We were all guilty of this in the beginning, but mostly out of necessity. We would assume roles on every production (producer, director, cinematographer, DP, editor). With each chapter of the business, we’ve made a conscious effort to take a step back, and that has allowed us to grow.

5 . Working with your spouse can be challenging but fun, even from home.

This is a uniquely Jeff lesson :) His wife, Brianna, is our incredible Head of Finance and Operations.

What do you see as the end result of your company?

Jeff: We all have different ideas of what that looks like. For me personally, I would love to see some of the long form and scripted projects come to life, especially in the comedy genres. Spending the rest of my career laughing on set and watching other people laugh would be a dream. We have built a very strong brand identity and one that can continue to grow as it so steeply has in such a short time so I would love to see that brand continue on and have less involvement in the day to day but still be involved in the larger picture decision making.

Brian: I would love to see the company continue to grow across its various verticals, creating a lasting brand that people attribute to quality storytelling. Personally, like Jeff, I would love to narrow my focus on select film and TV projects and become less involved in the daily operations of the company.

Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?

Jeff: I’m the most emotional one of the three of us. I would say that the success of managing that has been my two partners. I’m the most emotional, Pastor is the most phlegmatic and Brian is somewhere in-between. We balance each other out and hold each other accountable when emotions get too high or low.

Brian: We’ve each had times that we were dealing with professional and personal stressors. We all have families with young kids, which can be challenging when starting and running a company. But we have each other’s backs and can help level-set when the pendulum swings too far in one direction.

Pastor: Jeff is right. He’s the drama queen. Ha!

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Jeff: Respect and value leadership! I think that the people that I see in the highest leadership positions these days act as if the rules don’t matter and that their actions don’t change the actions of everyone watching them. Being a leader that shows respect, kindness, and authority when needed, is the balance I think we are all missing.

Brian: It’s such a simple concept, but it seems so lost in today’s world: empathy. The Golden Rule. Whether it’s treating people with respect or understanding a perspective to better articulate a solution, it’s at the center of everything we do in work and life. One thing we always tell new producers or film students is that they should learn a little about every department. That goes for business owners too. If you can understand where a person is coming from, it will make you a better colleague, negotiator, leader and human being.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Our website is www.riverside-ent.com

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

About the Interviewer: Douglas E. Noll, JD, MA was born nearly blind, crippled with club feet, partially deaf, and left-handed. He overcame all of these obstacles to become a successful civil trial lawyer. In 2000, he abandoned his law practice to become a peacemaker. His calling is to serve humanity, and he executes his calling at many levels. He is an award-winning author, teacher, and trainer. He is a highly experienced mediator. Doug’s work carries him from international work to helping people resolve deep interpersonal and ideological conflicts. Doug teaches his innovative de-escalation skill that calms any angry person in 90 seconds or less. With Laurel Kaufer, Doug founded Prison of Peace in 2009. The Prison of Peace project trains life and long terms incarcerated people to be powerful peacemakers and mediators. He has been deeply moved by inmates who have learned and applied deep, empathic listening skills, leadership skills, and problem-solving skills to reduce violence in their prison communities. Their dedication to learning, improving, and serving their communities motivates him to expand the principles of Prison of Peace so that every human wanting to learn the skills of peace may do so. Doug’s awards include California Lawyer Magazine Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers in America Lawyer of the Year, Purpose Prize Fellow, International Academy of Mediators Syd Leezak Award of Excellence, National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals Neutral of the Year. His four books have won a number of awards and commendations. Doug’s podcast, Listen With Leaders, is now accepting guests. Click on this link to learn more and apply.

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Doug Noll
Authority Magazine

Award-winning author, teacher, trainer, and now podcaster.