This is the first of a daily report on the various international sales agents who will converge at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica for 10 days beginning November 4 at the American Film Market.
The film and television production company Electric Entertainment, owned by producer/ writer and previously an actor, Dean Devlin, has recently launched an international theatrical film and television sales and acquisitions division. Devlin has appointed industry veteran Sonia Mehandjiyska to run the new division, which will represent Electric’s original productions as well as third-party product from A-list filmmakers and seasoned television producers from around the globe.
Dean Devlin's Electric Entertainment has recently acquired two new projects, Critical Hour and No Good Deed as director vehicles for Devlin and Electric's Marc Roskin respectively. Eric Tipton wrote Critical Hour, and Brandon Boyce ( Apt Pupil, Wicker Park) penned No Good Deed. Devlin, Roskin and Electric’s Rachel Olschan are producing both projects.
Dean and I spoke together about his plans and his incredible trailblazing in the international film business.
How was Toronto?
Toronto was interesting as the place to begin international sales again. It's been a while since I started Voltage with Nicholas Chartier.
What decided you to return to international sales?
Since 2004, we have been independent and we have about 100 hours of entertainment. We have studios in Portland, a state-of-the-art post-production facility here in L.A. We think we can leverage all these assets to bring down costs, not only for ourselves but for others. We want to capitalize on what such a workflow can bring to the marketplace.
What size films are you looking to make and represent internationally?
$25 million and under to start. We want to build on our brand identity. We want to continue with the genres we have been doing.
I notice that you began as an actor in 1980 as the boy in The Bodyguard, and then you wrote 1992 you wrote Universal Soldier. Then you wrote and produced Stargate and Independence Day. Are you still writing?
Yes, in fact I wrote and am now producing Geostorm with Skydance Pictures' David Ellison and Dana Goldberg and Paramount.
(Author’s note: I just realized, as I write this, that Geostorm will actually be Dean’s directorial debut!)
Will Paramount release U.S. And Electric Entertainment take foreign?
No, actually Paramount will take worldwide rights to this film as it is larger than those we will take on initially.
I notice you also are working in television. Which do you prefer, TV or theatrical?
When I started, TV was very formulaic. Now movies are more expensive and predictable and TV has exploded. With all the channels, it has become more creative. I love TV as much as I love film.
You have also produced documentaries – well you exec produced Who Killed the Electric Car? and other docs (Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story and Bellflower , Becoming Santa and Go Far: The Christopher Rush Story) give you thanks. Will you continue with docs?
We all know about passion projects. I don't have plans for docs, but there are some which I feel passionate about and so I get involved with them.
Any plans for U.S. Distribution?
No plan yet. But it's interesting to see all the forms of releasing, like iTunes releasing before theatrical on certain types of films. Perhaps in the distant future we will get into U.S. Distribution, but not yet.
You showing such intelligence in your planning and executing. It's a pleasure to see you at work.
Thank you. I think that to have any creative freedom requires risk taking. People are quick to criticize the studio system but we know they are taking risks every day and I think we need to share the risk which is what I am doing.
Well you are really keeping up with the times and the changes and I wish you great success. And thank you for taking the time to talk with me about Electric.
Industry vet Sonia Mehandjiyska serves as Head of International Distribution
Mehandjiyska introduced Electric’s slate to buyers at the Toronto International Film Festival and is proceeding on sales at the American Film Market. She was previously Head of Sales at Global Screen, a Bavaria-Telepool joint venture in Munich, Germany, where she negotiated license agreements on theatrical films, TV Series and M.O.W.’s for one of Europe’s biggest libraries.
Since 2003, Mehandjiyska has served in a variety of international distribution positions with Gibraltar Entertainment, Lightning Entertainment and Echo Bridge, where she served as Vice President of International Sales in their London office.
Devlin commented, “Sonia’s business acumen, professionalism, and taste for material represents exactly what I am looking for in the person we want to head our new division. We welcome her to the Electric family, and look forward to working with her as we present our product to the global marketplace.”
“I am thrilled to be working with Dean as he builds Electric into a full-service independent production and distribution company. His reputation and astonishing body of work is indisputable, and an inspiration as I move half-way across the globe to join the company,” said Mehandjiyska.
The first project for the new division is The Wannabe, a film written and to be directed by Nick Sandow, starring Patricia Arquette ( Stigmata, True Romance, “Boardwalk Empire”), Vincent Piazza ( Jersey Boys, “Boardwalk Empire”), and Michael Imperioli (“Oldboy,” “The Sopranos”). Martin Scorsese will Executive Produce the project. Electric Entertainment is fully financing the film and Executive Producing along with Traction Media (Short Term 12). Lizzie Nastro (Bluebird) and Michael Gasparro are producing. Set in New York City during the early 1990s, the film centers on Thomas (Piazza), a man obsessed with mob culture who attempts to fix the jury in the trial of John Gotti. But as the plot is foiled and he’s rejected by the ones he idolizes most, he sets off with Rose (Arquette), a neighborhood fixture, on a ride worthy of mob lore.
Electric recently wrapped its fifth and final season of TNT’s action-packed drama “Leverage,” which starred Academy Award® Winner Timothy Hutton and was Executive Produced by Dean Devlin, John Rogers, Chris Downey and Marc Roskin. “Leverage” won the 2013 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Cable TV Drama.
Electric’s other television credits include TNT’s "The Librarian" starring Noah Wyle, which was the highest rated movie on cable that year (2004), its sequel, “The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines” and the third installment of the franchise, “The Librarian: Curse of the Judas Chalice.” Along with Bryan Singer’s Bad Hat Harry production company, Electric produced SyFy Channel’s “The Triangle,” which won an Emmy for its Visual Effects, and was the highest-rated miniseries on the cable channel since “Steven Spielberg Presents TAKEN” (2002).
Devlin is currently in pre-production on his feature directorial debut, Geostorm, which he is producing with Skydance Pictures’ David Ellison and Dana Goldberg and his Electric Entertainment team of Marc Roskin and Rachel Olschan. Paramount retains worldwide rights to the film.