UK sales outfit Protagonist Pictures has appointed former StudioCanal executive Vanessa Saal as head of sales, part of a company restructure that includes launching a US presence fronted by producer Eddie Vaisman.
Vaisman joins as head of production and acquisitions, US.
As part of the shuffle, Dave Bishop has moved from his existing sales position to the newly created role of head of worldwide acquisitions; Emily Gotto has been promoted to acquisitions executive; George Hamilton to sales coordinator; and Hashim Alsaraf has been hired as deliveries manager.
Saal comes to Protagonist from Studiocanal’s Paris base where she was svp, international sales, handling territories including the US and Canada, Germany, Japan, Italy, Latin America and Spain.
She joined Studiocanal in 2010 as vp, international sales, and while at the company worked on the sale of films such as The Gunman, Non-Stop and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. She previously worked at Kinology when the company started operations in 2008 and started her career at Focus Features International in New York.
Saal will run the day-to-day sales operations and manage the sales team.
Former Sony executive Bishop has been at Protagonist since 2012 as director of sales. As head of worldwide acquisitions, he will oversee the acquisition, finance and production of film projects, while continuing to handle film sales in the UK.
Protagonist CEO Mike Goodridge said: “It’s been a summer of transition for Protagonist and I couldn’t be happier that we have assembled such a brilliant group of people to spearhead the next stage in the company’s growth. I am confident that our new team will drive Protagonist to even greater heights.”
Vaisman will work in Los Angeles and New York to strengthen Protagonist’s profile in the US and kickstart the company’s finance and production activities. He will be responsible for bringing films to the company to sell, co-finance, fully finance and produce.
He has spent the last four years as head of production at 3311 Productions where he executive produced Sundance hit In A World…, Michael Polish’s Big Sur and the upcoming Ad Inexplorata starring Mark Strong. Prior to that, he spent four years at Sony-based Avenue Pictures and started his career in 2004 at Kathryn Bigelow’s Paramount-based First Light.
Gotto steps from the deliveries department to acquisitions, reporting to Bishop; Hamilton, who reports to Saal, will expand his role in the sales department and start handling first-run sales; and Alsaraf runs the deliveries department from his previous role as an account executive at Arts Alliance Media where he managed encoding and releasing.
Screening at Toronto for Protagonist are Israel Horovitz’s directorial debut My Old Lady, Peter Strickland’s The Duke Of Burgundy, Debbie Tucker Green’s Second Coming and Yann Demange’s Berlin hit ’71.