It’s been less than 10 years since plucky entrepreneurs and UCLA grads Nate Bolotin, Nick Spicer and Aram Tertzakian co-founded XYZ Films at the ripe old age of 25, and since then, the three have built the integrated production and sales outfit into one of the premier destinations for undiscovered international talent. Based in Los Angeles, XYZ has demonstrated the gumption to look beyond its home turf in search of new voices, never shying away from local-language product and building its early foundations in (mostly) the genre space.
After acquiring Todd Brown’s genre site Twitch (now Screen Anarchy) in 2009, XYZ boarded sales on Indonesian action title Merantau, from Welsh director Gareth Evans. Spotting talent in Evans, they helped him develop his $1 million follow-up The Raid: Redemption, which quickly achieved cult status, winning the Midnight Madness audience award in Toronto in 2011 and earning more than $15 million globally. The company’s 2015 SXSW thriller The Invitation was released day-and-date in limited theaters and SVOD platforms, a risk that proved to the company that new models of distribution could work, economically.
And the bets keep paying off: This year, the XYZ-produced I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, directed by Macon Blair and starring Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood, took home the Grand Jury Prize in Sundance, while horror thriller Under the Shadow — the debut feature from Anglo-Iranian director Babak Anvari — won a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut. One of the company’s newest productions, Bushwick, directed by Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott, imagines a second U.S. civil war and is playing in the Directors’ Fortnight section at Cannes this year, hot on the heels of its Sundance premiere.
“We have always given our unwavering commitment to filmmakers to ensure that they have every tool possible to make great films,” says Bolotin. “These qualities have afforded us the opportunity to become a hub for undiscovered talent, as well as a viable alternative for proven filmmakers.”
XYZ is producing Evans’ latest film, period revenge thriller Apostle, as a Netflix Original, starring Dan Stevens, Michael Sheen and Lucy Boynton. Its production Sweet Virginia, starring Jon Bernthal, Christopher Abbott and Imogen Poots, opened to rave reviews at the Tribeca Film Festival this year. The company also is repping international sales rights on Baltasar Kormákur’s new psychological thriller The Oath.
“We continue to maintain a global perspective when it comes to content, talent and distribution,” comments Bolotin. “As emerging markets have matured, we’ve been there on the ground, ready to capitalize. We’re also not afraid to take risks with content, which means we often see opportunities that other companies perhaps do not.”