Magazine article Screen International

Patrick Ewald and Shaked Berenson, Epic Pictures

Magazine article Screen International

Patrick Ewald and Shaked Berenson, Epic Pictures

Article excerpt

Patrick Ewald and Shaked Berenson tell Jeremy Kay about the nimble manoeuvres of Epic Pictures, and how the company builds a diverse slate on the back of undead beavers and giant spiders.

Patrick Ewald and Shaked Berenson collaborated closely when they were at Crystal Sky and launched the Renegade genre label in 2004. They enjoyed the experience and wanted to work together again, eventually corralling investors to establish Epic Pictures in 2007.

Fast forward seven years to a mid-April Saturday night. A packed Tribeca Film Festival crowd is whooping in delight as the end credits roll on Zombeavers, which Epic introduced to buyers at Berlin's European Film Market in February.

The raucous response would seem to signal a strong endorsement of the path steered by Ewald and Berenson. Steady sales at market after market and a burgeoning production and financing profile have allowed the partners to expand their sphere of influence.

They recently closed a credit facility for an undisclosed sum that provides what Ewald calls a "quick-reaction fund", allowing Epic to take a variety of financing positions on projects.

"We want to come in quickly with filmmakers we respect so we don't have to spend so much time and energy running around the world finding random films," says Ewald. "The goal is to become a mini-studio that can rely on our film-makers to create content."

'The goal is to become a mini-studio that can rely on our film-makers to create content'Patrick Ewald

They have not been idle. In recent years Epic has struck a joint financing multi-picture deal with Malaysia-based KRU Studios that has yielded three films and lined up a fourth.

"We did world sales on Deadline and The Malay Chronicles and served as executive producer on and did sales on Vikingdom," notes Ewald. The Viking fantasy tale aired on Syfy in late April after launching on 25 screens in the US through Epic Releasing, a distribution venture with its own marketing and sales team that sells directly to retailers and reaches Walmart, Redbox and iTunes.

"It's a fairly sizeable investment on our side," says Ewald, who notes that the roster includes war film The Patrol, family title A Tiger's Tale and Big Ass Spider, which recently averaged 1.3m viewers on Syfy.

Beyond genre

"People know us for genre films but forget one of our biggest franchises is Space Dogs," says Berenson. …

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