PARIS – Gaspard de Chavagnac, the former boss of Zodiak Media France and FremantleMedia, has come on board Zorg Studios, a Paris-based production banner recently launched by a pair of independent producers, Erwan Marinopoulos (“Les Geeks”) and Edouard Duprey (“I Kissed a Girl”).
With offices in Paris and London, Zorg Studios also counts Romain Bessi, the former COO of Studiocanal, as a member of its strategic board.
Zorg Studios is currently developing five to six high-concept genre projects, all of which will be shot in English.
The company’s mandate is to emulate the model of Blumhouse, focusing on “tightly budgeted, concept-driven movies which can click with young audiences,” said Marinopoulos, who launched his own banner Skits in 2009 and produced the hit series “Les Geeks,” among other series aimed at teen audiences.
“We want to create a European-style Blumhouse, focusing on original stories set against European backdrops which range from the Versailles Palace to black sand beaches in Iceland,” added Marinopoulos.
De Chavagnac, who worked on such high-profile productions as “Versailles” during his tenure at Zodiak France, said the company aimed at casting actors who either come from big franchises or hit TV series and have a significant following on social networks.
De Chavagnac, a veteran industry player who founded the cable channel Televista and outfit Odena Media, also said Zorg Studios will have a creative approach to marketing film at an early stage, and will be involving the actors to leverage their respective communities on social media.
Duprey, who collaborated with De Chavagnac at Zodiak France, where we was CCO, as well as FremantleMedia France, where he was program director, said Zorg Studios will tap into the high demand for original content skewed at millennial audiences from streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
The company will be kicking off with the production of “Ben Lyk,” a thriller budgeted in the 2-million euro ($2.34 million) range, which will mark the directorial debut of Marinopoulos, who is also co-writing the script with Jean-Christophe Establet and Oliver Naldman.
Set in London, the film will center on Ben Lyk, a YouTuber who finds out that three unrelated people – a trader, cab driver and surgeon – who share his name have been murdered. The murders prompt Scotland Yard to gather up the eight remaining people named Ben Lyk and isolate them in a safe house.
Duprey and Marinopoulos described “Ben Lyk” as a mix between “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” “Nice Guys” and “Shallow Grave.” The film will start shooting in September.
Zorg Studios is looking to raise 10 million euros starting early next year to finance its first slate and is currently in negotiations with several streaming platforms to sign non-exclusive partnership deals.
Aside from Zorg Studios, Duprey also runs Kaly Productions, a banner whose first feature film, “I Kissed a Girl,” was distributed by Gaumont and won the Grand Prize at the Alpe d’Huez festival in 2015.