Shostak, Rossner start up company

Montreal: Industry veterans Murray Shostak and Danny Rossner have formed Shostak/ Rossner Productions, a content and non-content producer of feature films, tv series and mows. The company conservatively estimates its 1995/96 production slate will be in the $20 million range....

Montreal: Industry veterans Murray Shostak and Danny Rossner have formed Shostak/ Rossner Productions, a content and non-content producer of feature films, tv series and mows. The company conservatively estimates its 1995/96 production slate will be in the $20 million range.

Shostak is ceo of the new Montreal-based company, Rossner is president.

Shostak’s 12-year-old company, Canadian International Studios, will be rolled into Shostak/ Rossner. cis has a one-third share in CineVu Productions, a Vancouver-based production company formed in 1991 by Jeff Barmash, George Erschbaumer and Shostak, as well as an equal-share interest in Potterton/Shostak Productions, an animation production company headed by veteran director Gerald Potterton.

‘Our strategy is to hold onto Canada (distribution rights) based on the level of the Canadian contribution.This gives us an equity position and a recoupment position and profits equivalent to our percentage of the budget,’ says Shostak.

‘A key element will be our ability to bring in production, covering both the East and West Coast, whether it’s (Canadian) content or non-content projects.’

The company’s low-budget films will be produced in the $1.5 million to $3 million range, and Shostak says they will shoot with the stcvq, Quebec’s freelance film technicians union.

To date this year, CineVu has produced the thriller Flinch, Power of Attorney, a Canadian-content mystery feature, and Sliders, an mow series pilot produced in association with Universal Television and the Fox Network. Eight additional one-hour episodes of Sliders have also been wrapped for Fox.

Potterton is developing at least two projects, a tv series called Panda Pals and an animated musical feature film.

Shostak/Rossner’s first Montreal shoot will be Time Served, a $3 million women’s prison drama funded with private u.s. money. Ralph Thomas is slated to direct, with the startup set for mid or late October.

Another feature in the works is Sci-Fighters, a near-future, lunar labor camp action picture presold to an as yet unnamed u.s. distributor. Shostak says it will go either later this fall or in early ’96. Peter Svatek is slated to direct.

Selective projects in various stages of development at the company include several tv series proposals and Tarot (working title), a drama anthology with a definitive commitment from Showtime Networks in the u.s. for two 45-minute episodes.

‘Our script for Tarot should be back to Showtime within a month. That will take another month, so we’re looking at an early ’96 shoot,’ says Shostak. ‘If the (production pilot) works, our first order will probably be for 13 episodes, and then it could just go on forever.’

tv series in development include Challengers, a story from Montreal screenwriter Christian Fournier about competing families in the well-heeled Grand Prix horse racing circuit, with development funding from a French-track private Quebec broadcaster; Treasure Man, a tween series concept set in a summer trailer park from Montreal writer/actor Sam Stone and writer Mark Perry; and Bedlam Surplus, a sitcom project from Toronto-based writer Scott Gemmill (Taking the Falls, Jag) about a shrink and five patients who are up to their necks in opening a new business.

The company has also acquired the rights to a book on Big Ben, riding champion Ian Miller’s famous mount.

In a surprise announcement, Rossner reports the company has acquired the rights, as well as five to six hours of negatives, to the unfinished Claude Jutra film, Un petit bonhomme de chemin.

‘We have 10,000 to 11,000 feet of original film negative, which at one point was thought to be lost,’ says Rossner. The Jutra film, shot in the early 1980s, was never finished because of the director’s failing health and insurmountable financial problems. A bible is presently being prepared and Pierre Guevremont is the project’s executive producer.

Shostak set up cis in 1983 and has a very wide range of productions to his credit – Canadian projects such as Death Hunt, Maria Chapdelaine and Paroles et Musique, international coproductions, cbs mows, theatrical pictures for Universal and 20th Century Fox, and animated product for tv.

In the early ’80s, he helped set up Universal Productions Canada, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MCA Canada. He was upc’s ceo for three years.

Rossner was previously vp production and development with Justine Heroux’s Cinevideo Plus, and most recently held a production executive position with Robin Spry’s Telescene Communications.

Shostak says if the Showtime deal goes forward, the company’s projected production level this year could be as high as $50 million.