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Meet Eric B. Fleischman of Defiant Studios in West Hollywood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric B. Fleischman.

Eric, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I went to USC as an undergrad in film production, always having wanted to produce, and they really encouraged internships during the semesters so I found myself at Paramount in physical production my first summer in LA and fell in love with that world so much I was there every semester until 2010 when I first read of Paramount’s newly minted micro-budget division, called Insurge.

This is usually where people look puzzled because Insurge was a fairly short-lived venture unfortunately. But the mark it left on me still drives me today — Paramount Insurge was the studio’s attempt at making micro-micro budget feature films (I believe the original press release said $100,000.00 a film, a million a year for ten films…) and the best part of all? Only first-time filmmakers. It really was a genius concept — a studio was going to re-focus its attention onto Young Hollywood and use the division as a testing ground for up-and-coming filmmakers whom hopefully would have the talents needed to be a part of the studio system at large. But as I mentioned, the division wasn’t really able to do what it wanted (the studios’ have so many deals with guilds and unions) and so after a short stint, I left. Around this time, I was entering senior year of college (and only had one semester) and I knew I needed a job before I walked that stage… and here we enter Blumhouse. I started as an intern in 2011, right around when the first SINISTER was wrapping production, and was thrown into a new and exciting world of micro-budget genre filmmaking, at a company that was just beginning to gain the recognition of its peers. I think I lasted twelve months and in that time, as a company of (at the time) ten or so people, and in that time we produced twelve feature films… the real building blocks of what is known as Blumhouse today.

At some point, my itch for producing was becoming insatiable and my newly-hired intern, Mickey Keating, had joined the company and we became fast friends. Mickey is a treasure-trove of all things horror, so I was fascinated by his taste as a fellow filmmaker. We decided we would make a feature together while we were at the company. So with everyone’s permission, Mickey wrote and directed a film called RITUAL which we made for $27k (or so) during the summer of 2012 (on weekends). It was my first feature film as well, and I’ll say I learned more during those twelve days of production that I had my entire four years in school (don’t tell USC). Once the film was finished, we were fortunate enough to sell the film to Lionsgate for distribution, and I was hooked. Not only that… I had found a way to cross-pollenate the two worlds from which I was molded: a process to give Young Hollywood, mostly first-timers, their chance to craft a successful genre picture. With this new mission in mind, I left Blumhouse and began producing independently at age twenty-two. I ran straight into the indie world and was able to produce a few individual feature films before joining arms with a group of financiers to produce a few slates of features (some names that might be familiar from those years: CARNAGE PARK [Sundance ’16], SLEIGHT [Sundance ’16], FLOWER [TriBeCa ’17] and ALL ABOUT NINA [TriBeCa ’18]). Around 2017, I again found myself wanting to venture back out into the wild, and so I created a new company, Defiant Studios, to firmly plant this mission statement in the ground and let it grow. Today, Defiant has the good fortune of financing in full and producing micro-budget genre pictures with first-time filmmakers. We just wrapped production on what was my twenty-seventh feature film (and my third film with Mickey).

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Boy, I wish it had been smooth. You know the saying, a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor? Well, producing, especially independently producing, is like sailing a raft through the Bermuda Triangle. I’d say I probably learn something new every week and it really never stops. I don’t know if going through the “struggles” will be in any way entertaining, so I will say this: this field requires stamina, it requires faith, and most importantly it requires thick skin. Everyone has an opportunity to break-through, however they desire, but that requires a lot of sacrifice, and a whole fuck-ton of determination. So if you’re reading this, and you’re in the trenches like the rest of us, don’t give up hope. Just keep pushing and powering through. Everyone is in this together.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Defiant Studios story. Tell us more about the business.
As I mentioned before, Defiant Studios is a micro-budget film production and finance company, specializing in Young Hollywood (especially first-time filmmakers) with a corse focus on horror/sci-fi/thriller (“genre”) films. We develop most of our material from scratch, with filmmakers who we believe have talent in this space. The company is rare because first-time filmmakers tend to be the scariest “things” in the entertainment industry, once compared to “lepers” by an old executive now gone, and yet, we’ve had nothing but success finding and cultivating a solid group of filmmakers who’ve gone on to achieve greater success than they could have imagined at their age. I think we’re the only production company that even focuses on Young Hollywood. The motto really has become: For Young Hollywood, By Young Hollywood (thanks FUBU).

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I think people are warming up to first-timers now, which is good because that’s where the future of the entire entertainment industry lies. We’re also seeing a seismic shift in the spending of budgets; gone are the days of the $25-40M studio comedy. Now it’s MASSIVE budgets and TINY budgets. And the more our presence has become known in the industry, the more that latter category has become a stronghold of how our company operates. You can’t sustain yourself if you’re losing money on larger movies… so why not crunch budgets and make profits?

Contact Info:

  • info@defiant.LA

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