TV industry veteran Jeff Wachtel has raised funding and assembled a small team to launch Future Shack Entertainment, a production banner focused on developing TV for global markets.
Wachtel has struck deals with former NBCUniversal executive Sam Michaels and Yusik Choi, a former managing director at Rothschild & Co and an investment banker at Credit Suisse, to launch the banner with substantial financing from private equity funds.
Future Shack has also established a partnership with Blink49 Studios, the Endeavor Content-backed banner launched last year by Entertainment One and Alliance Atlantis alum John Moryaniss. Future Shack also has a first-party deal with Roku Channel, one of the many ad-supported channels offered on the MVPD digital platform.
“This is the most disruptive and exciting time our business has seen in more than a generation,” Wachtel said. Diversity. “The opportunity exists for a company that has taste, desire and vision. We believe we can be a creative and commercial launch pad, enabling the best artists to find the best path to success.”
Wachtel aims to focus Future Shack around international co-production. A number of experienced US producers are seeking creative deal opportunities and talent discovery in markets outside the US thanks to the growth of broadcasts with global subscriber bases. There is a strong push among US industry veterans to take advantage of the lower cost base of production outside the US, as well as copyright rules in the UK and other markets that are more favorable to producers of independent.
“We’re creating a new, partner-friendly organization, unafraid to break precedent to enable creative freedom and deliver the most impactful stories for our business partners,” said Michaels, who was previously a business executive at the cable side of NBCUniversal. .
The pact with Roku Channel specifically covers Future Shack’s development of the “blue sky” drama series that Wachtel became known for during his tenure as head of programming for NBCUniversal’s USA Network — think “Suits,” “Psych,” “Royal Pains”, “White Collar”. ” and “Burn Notice.” Wachtel noted that the language in the agreement is extremely specific to the genre he knows well.
“We believe the rapid growth of the FAST and AVOD networks will continue to create new demands for ad-friendly content, and we are well positioned to deliver stories to meet this growing demand,” said Choi.
Also joining the Future Shack presentation is Larry Sullivan, formerly of Conan O’Brien’s Conaco, as president of creatives. Pamela Parker, a Sony Pictures International TV alum, serves as head of business affairs. Frances Manfredi, a former top content sales executive for NBCU, is an advisor to Future Shack.
Currently Future Shack is developing projects with the famous author Walter Mosley, especially his novels “The Long Fall”, “Futureland” and “Debbie Doesn’t Does It Anymore”. The company is working on what it describes as a “radically new take” on Orson Scott Card’s novel Ender’s Game with Gigi Pritzker’s Madison Wells. A limited series about the 1991 art theft from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is also in the works.
Wachtel directed programming for USA Network at the height of its success with originals beginning with the Tony Shalhoub-starrer “Monk,” which ran from 2002 to 2009. He moved to president of Universal Content Prods. in 2013. He spent two years in London overseeing NBCU’s international television production operation before exiting in 2020.
Wachtel’s time in London and experience as a manufacturer and marketer made him realize it was a good time to create a nimble manufacturing operation capable of bringing some financing to the table. The amount of interest from investors in independently produced content was pleasantly surprising, he said. Wachtel would not elaborate on its private equity partners, but said the company has enough funding to get started.
Future Shack intends to bring on a few more executives as the company gets up and running.