EXCLUSIVE: Cathy Schulman, former head of production at STX Entertainment, just launched a new production and finance company called Welle Entertainment. In addition, she has entered into a co-venture with Primary Wave Entertainment and is starting up with several diverse film and television projects already on the slate.
The first Welle film will be a comedy that will go through Mandalay Pictures — where Schulman was once a top exec — to be directed by Cindy Chupack (Sex and the City). The untitled film focuses on “one of the hardest and funniest stages in mothering: the dreaded empty nest.” It is slated to go before cameras in the summer.
According to terms of the deal, Primary Wave will help finance Welle Entertainment’s television, film and other media projects that appeals to a diverse audience but with an emphasis on women and girls. We would expect nothing less from Schulman, who is also the president of Women in Film, Los Angeles — a position that she has held since 2011.
Schulman is expected to take a hands-on role in finding and developing stories. As she has found over the years, the majority of audiences are both female and racially diverse, “yet financiers and distributors aren’t targeting today’s majority. … I plan to focus on the economic upside of opportunities being left on the table with the portfolio of projects I will be producing,” she said in announcing the venture.
One of the Oscar-winning producers of Crash whose credits also include the box office hit Bad Moms and coming-of-age comedy The Edge of Seventeen, Schulman has produced myriad films. Other projects already on the Welle slate include Firelight (with Sonar Entertainment), based on the popular YA book series by Sophie Jordan, which is being adapted by Laurie Craig (Elle Enchanted). Another is a series with Origin Pictures and the BBC, Evolution’s Captain, which is being adapted by Ed Whitmore (Rillington Place) from the Peter Nichols book that “turns the traditional thinking of Charles Darwin’s theory inside out.”
Primary Wave recently acquired Jeff Gaspin’s production company Gaspin Media, and Welle aligns nicely with the company’s portfolio of talent management, production, music publishing and brand marketing. Gaspin is a former chairman of NBC Entertainment.
Gaspin, now president of Primary Wave who works with company co-CEOs David Guillod and Lawrence Mestel, said Schulman is an integral part of the strategy to build the company’s content business.
In her time spent as a producer and executive, Schulman has also had a hand in such film as Horns, Voices, Bernie, Soul Surfer, Thumbsucker and The Illusionist and developed and arranged the financing for Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York.
Primary Wave already has a number of high-profile projects on its own slate with The Coldest City starring Charlize Theron at Universal Pictures, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck at HBO, Being Mary Jane at BET, Loudermilk for AT&T Audience Network from Peter Farrelly and Emmy-winning writer Bobby Mort, and Young Women’s Honors for the CW.