Welcome Villain Films has announced its arrival as a new production and distribution company- a fully integrated genre studio with an innovative business model and flexible approach to development, production, marketing, and strategic distribution. The company also unveiled its first two feature film projects: an expanded re-imagining of the beloved horror hit Last Shift, and an untitled slasher project from the creators of the celebrated franchise The Houses October Built.
Welcome Villain Films (WVF) is a destination for filmmakers with unique voices who seek a creative studio partner that embraces their visions and has the ability to deliver them to genre-hungry audiences in exciting new ways. The executive team at WVF is stacked with decades of collective experience in producing, marketing and releasing films, with a true passion for the horror genre. The company’s mission is to empower creators of all levels, bridging the gap between studio and artist to consistently deliver edgy and exciting films in the horror and genre space. Too often great original films are made and acquired without a strategy to find their audience- as a fully integrated studio, WVF aims to ensure that a marketing and distribution plan is put in motion during the development and production process, so films are not lost to algorithms and the glut of “content”. Filmmakers will be heavily ingrained in this process in a manner not common for the industry, with transparent communication and consistent collaboration.
Welcome Villain Films is comprised of four founding executive partners, with plans to expand the team as the year progresses. Head of Operations Bonner Bellew, a founder and CEO of advertising and media agency Soda & Lime, previously served as a television producer at NBC Universal and Warner Brothers, founder and CCO at Rocket XL, and Executive Creative Director at Big Picture Group. Bonner will bring his decades of industry experience and operational fluency into the fold, building a powerhouse studio structure to support an expanding roster of genre-specific content.
Producer Dan Clifton will serve as Head of Production, bringing his experience working on over two dozen independent feature films to the role. Through his work with XR studio Top Right Corner, Dan will also expand WVF’s technical capabilities to meet an ever-evolving production landscape.
Creative executive Luke LaBeau will serve as Head of Development, bringing over a decade of experience and dozens of theatrical and PVOD releases in the genre space at high-profile companies like Blumhouse Productions, Orion Pictures, and Relativity Media. At WVF, LaBeau will combine his lifelong passion for film and vast knowledge of the horror space to bring a unique and relationship-focused approach to the film process.
Eric Kleifield will spearhead marketing initiatives and assist in the development of commercial horror properties as Head of Creative. An advertising specialist and creative director with a focus on producing and marketing genre content, Eric brings his passion and experience marketing horror films from renowned studios such as Blumhouse Productions and Orion Pictures.
“In the ever-changing landscape of film distribution, WVF aims to be a beacon for filmmakers who are looking to collaborate with a full-fledged studio without all of the headaches and hurdles those relationships have presented in the past,” says Dan Clifton, Head of Production.
“Our fully-integrated studio model gives filmmakers the creative control they need to bring their visions to life, accompanied by the support of comprehensive studio-led marketing and distribution plans,” states Eric Kleifield, Head of Creative.
“We live, breathe, and dream horror, and our goal is to partner with artists who share that same passion, and to support their creative visions in a truly collaborative fashion, ultimately bringing high-quality films to the widest audience possible, in hopes of breathing new life into the genre,” says Luke LaBeau, Head of Development. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to kick off WVF with two exciting horror projects from visionary filmmakers Anthony DiBlasi, and Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews. These films bring all the mayhem and bravado that genre fans love, and then some.”
To kick off the studio, Welcome Villain Films announces a reimagining of horror hit Last Shift, a critically-acclaimed supernatural horror film released by Magnolia Pictures that was named among the top 5 horror films of 2015. The studio is collaborating with the film’s original creators, writer/director Anthony DiBlasi and writer/producer Scott Poiley, who return to a bigger sandbox to expand their vision of nightmare-inducing terror. The project is currently in active development.
“Reimagining the world of Last Shift and pushing the storytelling to its fullest potential has long been a goal of ours. We were constrained by our budget on the first film, and the team at Welcome Villain is giving us the ability to revisit this world, delivering more of what fans loved about the original but also expanding on the mythology to terrify a whole new audience,” says director Anthony DiBlasi.
WVF is announcing a second project in collaboration with Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews, filmmakers behind the hit horror franchise The Houses October Built, which has garnered a massive reputation over the years as essential Halloween-time viewing. Their film, currently untitled and also in active development, will bring a shocking new entry to the slasher cannon.
“We’re excited to bring creative kills and new twists to the genre, and happy to be spilling blood with Welcome Villain on this longtime passion project of ours.” says filmmakers Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews. “Welcome Villain is a team that respects every facet of the genre from production to its incredible innovative marketing capabilities, and we’re thrilled about this partnership.”
As part of its innovative business model, Welcome Villain Films is unveiling strategic partnerships with full-service advertising and media buying agency Soda & Lime and XR heavyweight Top Right Corner. These partnerships will provide an unprecedented, 360-degree approach to filmmaking, creative, marketing, and technical capabilities.
Soda & Lime will give WVF unparalleled creative development and marketing capabilities to support their original productions and acquisitions. Past clients for Soda & Lime include Universal, 20th Century Fox, Disney, and MGM Studios.
“Having a robust, dedicated creative and media team gives our film campaigns an unprecedented level of quality and scope; this in-house approach via Soda & Lime means campaigns can begin at a film’s inception,” says Bonner Bellew, Head of Operations.
Top Right Corner is a leading creator in the XR space, and will provide WVF with the in-house ability to produce video game content, leverage virtual set tech for productions, and develop immersive marketing initiatives and fan experiences in XR. This method of utilizing virtual assets from day one gives WVF a unique and cost-efficient way to produce, market, and monetize their original properties.
This is only the beginning for Welcome Villain Films, an origin story that will evolve as the company expands their library of titles and arsenal of high caliber talent. The studio is actively engaging with filmmakers on new projects, and is aggressively pursuing the acquisitions market to satisfy the insatiable demands of horror and genre audiences around the world.
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