While Smiling Peanut was officially formed in 2002 (as Smiling Peanut Productions), the company’s roots trace back to 1997. Smiling Peanut co-founder Chris Lanphear founded a similar company with colleage Aaron Godbey called Sunset Communications (later SunCom) that provided new media solutions to organizations for nearly four years. The co-founders dissolved the company in 2000 to focus on other endeavors.
Later in 2000, Chris Lanphear sold the assets of a former SunCom property (tromamovies.com) to New York-based independent film studio Troma Entertainment and formed an alliance with the company — along with its co-founders Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz — a partnership which would create opportunities for both companies and continues today.
In the summer of 2002, Lanphear and longtime friend Jake Theisen would form Smiling Peanut as it exists today, focusing on media promotion, website design and the creation of new projects. Later that year, the company brought on Chaz Kangas as a representative for East Coast relations.
2003 would be a banner year for Smiling Peanut as co-founders Lanphear and Theisen would team up with fellow sponsors PETA2, iFILM, MovieMaker Magazine and Rockstar Energy to support the TromaDance Film Festival, an annual festival of truly independent film held concurrently each year in Park City, Utah with the Sundance Film Festival. For three years, the company provided a number of services to TromaDance including festival promotion, new media and volunteer coordination.
Much of the remainder of the decade would see the company focusing its effort on a number of new projects, both for partner company Troma Entertainment as well as other organizations.
2012 represents our tenth anniversary of creating and producing truly independent media, and with a number of exciting new projects on the horizon, it looks to be the most important year in the development of the concern that is Smiling Peanut.
Chris Lanphear is co-founder and Chief Peanut. He oversees day-to-day operations, and is primarily responsible for the acquisition of new projects. Chris has also held high level positions at Troma Entertainment and was co-founder of Smiling Peanut’s predecessor company, SunCom.
Jake Theisen is co-founder and Vice Peanut. He oversees company strategy and partnerships as well as guiding Smiling Peanut’s financial matters. Jake has also worked with Cinemark and Dragon*Con in Atlanta, GA.
Smiling Peanut believes in being responsible neighbors and making the community a better place. Find out more about our community outreach initiatives.