Several laid-off staff members at Medient Studios in Savannah say the film company owes them hundreds of thousands of dollars for past work. They also say Medient was operating without paying several top executives who agreed to defer their salaries while the company worked to build a multi-million dollar studio complex in Effingham County.
The company’s board ousted Medient’s CEO and others in an apparent hostile takeover on June 9.
Former President Yogesh Dhabuwala says he was among executives who agreed to delay taking a salary until the company was on stronger footing.
"We wanted the company to grow; we wanted it to get strong; we wanted to start making movies," he says. "And no one expected this kind of a shakeup to happen."
Dhabuwala claims Medient owes him nine months’ back pay, which he says he’d expected to receive within a month.
Former creative director and co-founder Pankaj Kapoor tells GPB that Medient owes him a quarter-million dollars.
Manoj Koshy worked on project management for Medient’s $90 million studio complex under construction in Effingham County. He claims he’s owed about $150,000.
"It was understood that we would be paid once we got the first studio up and movies started being filmed and produced," Koshy says.
The men say current Medient officials, including the new CEO Jake Shapiro, are not responding to their calls and emails.
Medient also has not responded to requests for comment from GPB, but the company said through a public relations firm that it would issue a statement by the end of the week. As of Friday evening, the company had not released a statement.
The Securities and Exchange Commission has suspended Medient's stock until July 9 because of “questions that have been raised about the accuracy and adequacy of publicly disseminated information concerning, among other things, the company’s total shares outstanding and its operations.”
Former CEO and co-founder Manu Kumaran has sued the company's board. He's asking a Nevada judge to dissolve Medient and issue an injunction preventing the company from doing business.