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Double Visionbox

Digital prod'n house forms 2 low-budget units

Former Samuel Goldwyn exec John Bard Manulis and producer Michael Kastenbaum have launched digital production company Visionbox Pictures, a low-budget outfit that offers filmmakers creative rights and equity ownership for edgy projects.

Through its two divisions, low-budget Spotlight and microbudget the Lab, Visionbox will use both traditional and interactive new-media applications to produce genre, franchise and niche features as well as Webisodes.

Spotlight, which will budget most pics under the half-million mark, plans to make up to six features annually with emerging and established filmmakers.

In post is Harry Shearer’s corporate satire “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” starring Michael McKean, Morgan Fairchild, Henry Gibson and George Wendt, and the romantic drama “Falling Like This,” written and directed by Dani Minnick and starring Brian Vaughan (“Almost Famous”), Patricia Clarkson (“The Green Mile”), John Diehl (“Anywhere But Here”) and Karen Young (“Joe the King”).

Spotlight slate

Up next for Spotlight division this fall is the black comedy “Eurotrash,” written by Tony Peck and Joseph Brutsman (“Free Money”) and directed by Brutsman. This will be followed by the supernatural thriller “The Order,” written by Lee Muhl and to be directed by C.M. Talkington (“Love and a .45”).

Visionbox plans to simultaneously produce a series of mythologically related Webisodes, a licensed comic book and interactive game in conjunction with the project.

Lab work

The Lab has its roots in Kastenbaum’s Zero Pictures, which has produced more than 15 features since its 1997 inception, including Noah Stern’s Sundance selection “The Invisibles” starring Portia de Rossi.

“The Lab is the microbudget incubator of Visionbox,” Kastenbaum said. “It’s a discovery zone for new talent, a nurturing ground for cool ideas and a place for established filmmakers to test boundaries or refresh their muse.”

Next up for the Lab are the socio-political comedy “Revolt” by writer-director Peter Glantz and the cross-cultural comedy “Island of Mirrors” written by and starring Edgar L. Davis about the experiences of an African-American actor teaching conversational English to private-school girls in Japan.

Visionbox co-chairman and CEO Manulis most recently served as head of filmed entertainment for Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Roll of credits

Under his own continuing banner, Foundation Entertainment, his producing credits include “The Basketball Diaries,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Wahlberg; “Swing Kids,” starring Christian Bale; “Daybreak,” starring Cuba Gooding Jr.; “Foxfire,” starring Angelina Jolie; and the upcoming “Tortilla Soup,” starring Hector Elizondo, Elizabeth Pena and Raquel Welch. He recently produced the Umbilical Brothers’ “THWAK” for Off Broadway and in Los Angeles.

Prior to launching Zero, Visionbox co-chairman and president Kastenbaum worked in development at Epic Pictures and as an executive on productions including Curtis Hanson’s “Bad Influence,” Emilio Estevez’s “Men at Work” and “Double Impact,” starring Jean Claude Van Damme.

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