Studio 8 is quickly ramping up, hiring four more executives in both finance and production as it prepares its production slate that will see two movies the first year, four in the second and six in each of the next three, with budgets ranging from $45 million to $100 million-plus. Studio 8 CEO Jeff Robinov said last month that he had planned to hire 14-16 people and is making good on that word. The newest hires include Shaun Williams as his Chief Financial Officer. Williams previously worked at GK Films where he oversaw day-to-day operations as SVP of Finance. The executive had been involved with Studio 8 since its beginnings when they began developing the overall business plan. He helped to structure the corporate credit facility.
Robinov and his new media company is backed by Shanghai-based China’s Fosun Group which also officially set up shop with Sony. Fosun is the largest privately-owned conglomerate in mainland China. Sony will distribute up to six commercial features worldwide from Robinov’s Studio 8, excluding China, and took an investment stake in the company. Studio 8 will finance 100% of its films.
Helping to make deals on those films will be Lindsey Bayman, former Executive Vice President, Motion Picture Business Affairs at Paramount Pictures, who has joined the roster to run Business Affairs. In her previous job at the studio, she helped oversee a number of successful franchises including Transformers, G.I. Joe and Jackass as well as the big-budget sci-fi offering Interstellar. She had been with the studio since 2006 and before than ran business affairs for independent movie producers Phoenix Pictures and Pandemonium Films. She’ll report to Robinov.
The four hires (two more reported below) join Robert Brassel and Jon Silk in production and Chris Goldberg who was hired as a development exec.
Also joining from Paramount is the former Worldwide President of Feature Production, Mark Bakshi who will oversee physical production and also report directly to Robinov. Most recently, he served as executive producer on the critically acclaimed Foxcatcher starring Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, and Mark Ruffalo as well as the box office giant World War Z and the Brad Pitt starring Moneyball. Prior to Moneyball, he was a consulting producer on the animated feature Rango. He enjoyed a 14-year run at Paramount overseeing all live-action and animated theatrical releases. While there, he supervised over 150 feature film productions, including titles such as Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, Transformers, the Mission: Impossible franchise, Saving Private Ryan and Titanic. He also developed and produced for HBO and served as a production executive at Buena Vista Pictures and Walt Disney Television.
The production and TV experience that Bakshi brings to the table will help the company in other endeavors. In addition to its feature slate, Studio 8 plans to also develop TV and digital content for multi-platform distribution. Last month on the Sony lot, Robinov also talked about an effort to make “visually unique” films. The ex-Warner Bros. Motion Picture Group President, of course, was the former champion (along with Lynn Harris) of both the visually-different The Lego Movie and Gravity, which won seven Academy Awards, including for visual effects.
To that end, Studio 8 hired visual effects veteran Kimberly LoCascio who will oversee all aspects of visual effects, post production and 3D. She will also report to Robinov. She is the former Senior Vice President overseeing VFX & 3D at Legendary Pictures and helped to bring such films as Godzilla, Pacific Rim and 42 to the big screen. At Paramount Pictures, she oversaw several projects, including The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and Star Trek. Prior to her studio gig, LoCascio was a freelance visual effects producer and began her career at Industrial Light + Magic.