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Axial Entertainment drives to stable scribes

Salary, benefits and equity bartered for new material

HOLLYWOOD — Axial Entertainment, a Gotham- and San Francisco-based production and management outfit, will offer a staff of 20-25 writers salary, benefits and equity in the company in exchange for creating material for film, TV, Internet, theater and advertising outlets.

Riaz Patel, who will be CEO and most recently served as VP at Bob Balaban’s Chicagofilms, has brought in award-winning screenwriter Joe Trebiano (“Big Night”) as the company’s senior writer, along with former Sonnenfeld/Josephson VP Bill Eville and Clinica Estetico exec Laura Parker, who will serve as VPs overseeing development and production, and Andrea Miller, who will serve as VP of short-form content and will oversee work for advertising and the Web.

With backing from an S.F.-based private equity source, Axial aims to pick up the development tab by emulating the hothouse creative environments that once fed studio pipelines.

Writers hired by Axial receive a six-month contract, at the end of which they can be reupped for a maximum of two additional terms. In exchange for giving writers financial and professional support, Axial expects their creatives to develop and produce material at a ramped-up rate.

Axial will manage the writers who enter the program. While the scribes cannot accept another contracted job while at Axial, they can work on their own projects — as long as they meet deadlines.

Expansion plans

“This is a material-generating factory, (but) we don’t own their minds,” said Patel, who also plans to launch offices in Los Angeles; London; Austin, Texas; and Seattle. “We think we’re giving them the incentive and the means to create.”

Although Axial will shop scripts to producers, Patel is working to close a line of revolving credit for the company that would allow them to finance or co-finance some productions.

He is talking with a number of writers who he said are “below the radar” such as promising film school graduates or those who may have a few credits but have not broken into the Hollywood mainstream.

Who’s who

Before starting Chicagofilms for actor-director Balaban, Patel worked for Stanley Tucci during “The Impostors.” He began his career in the motion picture department of William Morris’ Los Angeles office.

Trebiano, who won the Waldo Salt Award at Sundance and an Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay “Big Night” he penned with Tucci, is a creative adviser for the Sundance screenwriting labs and is adapting “The Game of Their Lives” for Wayne Wang and Redeemable Features, and “The Mafia Cookbook” for Offline Entertainment and Fox Television.

Eville, who most recently served as VP of development at Sonnenfeld/Josephson, started his film career at Miramax Films as an independent story analyst and did a stint at Scott Rudin Prods. He also teaches fiction writing and poetry at New York’s the Writer’s Studio.

Parker is head of development at Clinica Estetico’s Manhattan offices, where she has worked on projects such as Charlie Kaufman’s “Adaptation”; “Bleeder,” with Neil LaBute; and the adaptation of Wally Lamb’s “I Know This Much Is True.” She began her career in the film department of literary agency Curtis Brown and also worked in film and TV development at Scholastic Entertainment.

Miller spent 14 years managing consumer marketing and promotions at a variety of advertising and entertainment companies, including agencies Young & Rubicam; Foote, Cone & Belding; Lifetime Television; and, most recently, the Romann Group. She recently launched Tangent Theatre Co. in New York.

Axial is repped by the New York law firm of Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo.

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