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Augenschein Filmproduktion, the German production house behind Stowaway, 7500 and Home, has launched a world sales outfit Augenschein Sales, to handle international sales and financing for its upcoming productions.
Jonathan Saubach, a former executive at German licensing and distribution group Telepool, will run the operation as head of sales.
Augenschein founders Maximilian Leo and Jonas Katzenstein said setting up an in-house sales division would give the company greater access to equity funding and presales for its productions and allow the Cologne-based shingle to retain its creative independence.
“The launch of our own financing and sales arm is the logical next step for us to continue to produce superb auteur films with worldwide appeal from Germany,” said Leo. “Under this expansion, we will maintain creative and financial control over our films so we can make bold, edgy choices working with new and established filmmakers such as Patrick Vollrath, Franka Potente, Jan-Ole Gerster, Lars Kraume and Wolfgang Fischer.”
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Leo noted that the rise in worldwide rights deals, driven by global streamers as well as studios, meant it made sense for independent producers to work directly with buyers. “The past year, in particular, has shown us we can work one-on-one [with the studios and streamers]. Everyone is just a zoom call away.”
Augenschein has carved out a niche in the indie film space by producing mid-budget genre features with a strong auteur touch, securing financing mainly through German sources and shooting mainly in Germany in order to tap local subsidies.
Vollrath’s contained thriller 7500, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, which Amazon picked up for worldwide release, was shot mainly on a soundstage at MMC Studios in Cologne. Joe Penna’s sci-fi thriller Stowaway, featuring Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson and Toni Collette, was produced at MMC and Bavaria Studios outside Munich. Wild Bunch released Stowaway theatrically in Germany, with Netflix taking the rest of the world.
Recent productions include Kathy Bates starrer Home, the directorial debut of German actress Franka Potente, and the upcoming drama All Russians Love Birch Trees from director Pola Beck.
“W intend to stay a director-driven, auteur-focused company,” said Katzenstein, “that’s in our DNA. The purpose of having a sales company is to give us more control over our projects and give our directors more creative freedom.”
While Augenschein Sales will initially only handle the company’s in-house projects, Katzenstein and Leo said they are already in talks with other independent production companies interested in copying their indie producer/sales hybrid.
Before joining Augenschein, Saubach worked as an acquisitions and distributions exec for Telepool, picking up such titles as Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, Benedict Cumberbatch starrer The Imitation Game, and Ryan Reynolds/Samuel L. Jackson actioner The Hitman’s Bodyguard.
He also served as executive producer on Telepool’s local-language features including Don’t. Get. Out! from Christian Alvart (Pandorum), and Aron Lehmann’s critically acclaimed The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.
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