AFM: ‘Indepedence Day’ Producer Dean Devlin Celebrates Independence

Dean Devlin, who helped start Voltage Entertainment in 2005, is making a passionate return to the foreign sales/financing business through his 12-year-old banner Electric Entertainment.

‘The independents will save the movie business,” an upbeat Devlin (pictured above with Mel Gibson) said at Electric’s American Film Market bash Friday night at the Viceroy. “We don’t over-manage projects like the studios do.”
Case in point — Electric is fully financing mob drama “The Wannabe,” starring Patricia Arquette, Vincent Piazza and Michael Imperioli. Martin Scorsese is executive producing  “The Wannabe,” which began production last week on a 20-day shoot with Nick Sandow directing from his own script. Piazza is playing a man obsessed with mob culture who attempts to fix the jury in the trial of John Gotti.
“I came on to finance without seeing the script,” Devlin noted. “I’m making a bet because I liked the story and I especially liked that Martin was already attached as an executive producer.”

Electric unveiled the new division, its financing of “The Wannabe” and the hiring of veteran execs  Sonia Mehandjiyska and Ari Haas during the Toronto Film Festival. It’s selling international markets at AFM.

Devlin, who produced “Independence Day,” admits there’s been a sea change since he and Nick Chartier launched Voltage eight years ago.

“There’s a real difference now in what you can get out of film and the rise of digital platforms,” he notes. “It’s an evolving market so it’s a good time for me to get back in.”

Devlin added that dealing directly with the foreign sales market is crucial to survive in the current environment. He also said that Electric’s production studio in Hollywood is a huge advantage.

“The Titanic hit the iceberg not because they could not see it coming but because they could not change direction,” he adds. “Because we have the studio, we can make the shifts much more quickly. It really helps leverage the costs in post-production.”

Devlin’s also a strong backer of efforts to broaden California’s production tax credit program and of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s naming of Tom Sherak as film czar for the city of Los Angeles. “I would walk through fire for Tom,” he added.

Electric recently wrapped its fifth and final season of TNT’s drama “Leverage,” which was executive produced by Devlin, John Rogers, Chris Downey and Marc Roskin. Devlin noted that the first season was shot in Los Angeles but production then moved to Portland, Ore.

“We saved $10 million a season by shooting in Portland due to incentives, so it would have been irresponsible to shoot here,” Devlin said. “I still want to shoot here whenever possible.”

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