Trimark Pictures this week moved quickly to fill vacancies left by the recent departure of two key executives.
The Santa Monica-based indie has tapped former Morgan Creek Prods. exec Jeff Gonzalez as chief financial officer and upped two international sales executives, Sergei Yershov and Shebnem Askin.
Gonzalez replaces James Keegan, who recently ankled his post as exec VP and chief financial officer to join Artisan Entertainment. The international division promotions follow the exit of exec VP Sergio Aguero, who left to run the Endeavor agency’s newly formed independent film division (Daily Variety, Aug. 24).
Gonzalez joins Trimark after four years as financial controller for Morgan Creek, the Warner Bros.-based financing and production company.
Prior to Morgan Creek, he spent four years at Price Waterhouse’s entertainment division, where his responsibilities included handling Trimark’s audits.
“We interviewed a lot of qualified candidates, and it was a tough decision,” said Trimark chairman Mark Amin. “Jeff, with his energy and experience, is a great fit for Trimark.”
Meanwhile, Yershov has been promoted to senior VP of international sales, heading the company’s foreign distribution efforts. He will continue to work alongside Andy Reimer, who oversees worldwide television sales for the company.
Yershov joined Trimark four years ago as VP of international, reporting to Aguero. Most recently, he has focused on sales of the company’s mainstream commercial fare.
Before Trimark, Yershov worked at Westside Studios for three years, starting out as an intern and eventually moving up to head foreign sales.
Askin, formerly Trimark’s VP of international co-productions, will now add sales to her title and her job description. She will focus primarily on specialized films, an area in which Trimark is expanding in terms of both acquisitions and productions.
She will report to Yershov.
Askin was instrumental in putting together a TV deal for certain foreign territories with Buena Vista on Trimark’s Frida Kahlo biopic, “Frida,” Amin said.
“Shebnem brings a pure specialized movie background and sensibility to the table, which we had not had before in the international department,” Amin said.
Prior to joining Trimark, Askin spent a year and a half as president of international sales and acquisitions for Alfonso Arau’s Seventh Dimension, handling pre-sales on “Zapata.”
Before that, Askin was an arthouse distributor in her native Turkey, where she handled such films as “The Player” and “The Piano.”
“Although both Sergio and Jim were friends and I miss them,” Amin said, “I’m happy about finding Jeff and giving a chance to two very capable international executives to grow and maximize their potential. This is a positive change at Trimark.”
(Benedict Carver contributed to this report.)