Will Smith and Marc Forster's Telepool Backs Defiant Studios Horror Film Slate

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Will Smith, Marc Forster

'Phobias,' a horror anthology, will be the first project produced under the agreement with Eric B. Fleischman's Defiant Studios, with Kodiak Pictures and Telepool as co-producers and co-financiers.

Telepool, the German licensing group acquired by investors led by World War Z director Marc Forster and Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s family office, The Smith Family Circle, has come on board as co-producer and co-financier of a slate of genre films to be produced by Eric B. Fleischman's Defiant Studios.

Together with Maurice Fadida's Kodiak Pictures, Telepool will help finance and produce the genre slate, starting with the horror anthology Phobias. Fleischman's credits include Sundance titles Slight and Carnage Park and the recent comedy All About Nina, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, which premiered in Tribeca this year.

Phobias is conceived as five separate stories focused on five patients suffering from extreme phobias at a government testing facility under the supervision of a crazed doctor who wants to weaponize fear for military use. The project brings together five up-and-coming writer/directors: Maritte Go (Remittance), Camilla Belle (When a Stranger Calls), Jessica Varley (Kat), Joe Sill (Stray) and Chris von Hoffmann (Monster Party), who will helm the individual stories. Tyler Gillett, Chad Villella and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin from the Radio Silence Collective are executive producing the anthology, together with Mickey Gooch Jr. and D.G. Guyer of Kodiak and Telepool CEO Andre Druskeit. The cast includes Ross Partridge, Macy Gray, Leonardo Nam, Hana Mae Lee, Lauren Miller Rogen and Martina Garcia.

“Telepool's involvement in Defiant’s upcoming genre slate is an investment in burgeoning young structures in Los Angeles,” said Druskeit. “Eric B. Fleischman is one of the most promising up-and-coming producers of Hollywood and his projects are staffed with outstanding young talents.”

The Smith Family Circle and Elysian Fields, a group of investors associated with Marc Forster, acquired Telepool earlier this year from a consortium of German and Swiss regional public broadcasters. The German group, founded in 1963, is one of Europe's oldest, and largest, film licensing companies. Under its new management, Telepool is looking to reposition as a production and financing operation for international films and TV series.

The Defiant slate deal was negotiated by Matthew Sugarman from Weintraub Tobin on behalf of Defiant.