Corporate - LAIKA expands its Live Action Film Department

By Mulder, 25 may 2023

Award-winning studio LAIKA has named two executives to its expanding live-action division, effective immediately.  Jeremy Kipp Walker joins LAIKA as Executive Vice President of Live-Action Production; Chaz Salembier is Creative Vice President, Live-Action Film. Both executives will report to Matt Levin, President of Live-Action Film & Series, who joined LAIKA in February of this year after a long tenure at Netflix. 

In addition to being in production on its sixth animated movie Wildwood, LAIKA is currently developing its first ever live-action project, a film based on acclaimed screenwriter John Brownlow’s (The Miniaturist, Sylvia) action thriller novel Seventeen. 

“This is an exciting and formative moment for LAIKA as we build out our live-action slate and Jeremy and Chaz will be integral to this next phase of our evolution,” said Levin. “I have had the privilege of working closely with Jeremy for over 10 years – he’s one of the most talented and respected producers in the business and I could not ask for a better partner.  Chaz is an exceptional creative executive who will be an incredible champion for filmmakers and bold, original storytelling at LAIKA.”

Walker is an independent film producer whose projects have earned two Academy Award® nominations, 13 Spirit Award nominations and three wins, and three AFI Movie of the Year awards. His credits include The Big Sick, Half Nelson, Table 19, Mississippi Grind, and It’s Kind of a Funny Story.

Walker served as Head of Production for Netflix’s Independent Film Division, responsible for creating and building the production infrastructure for a new studio tasked with making 25+ mid-sized feature films per year. During his tenure, the division oversaw the completion of 100+ original films. He also co-founded and ran Netflix’s Emerging Filmmaker Initiative (EFI), an annual program created to cultivate and accelerate the careers of the next wave of filmmakers working in high-demand genres like sci-fi, action, horror, and thriller.

In his role at LAIKA, Chaz Salembier will identify and develop compelling stories for the studio’s live-action film slate. He is currently representing LAIKA’s interests at the Cannes Film Festival. 

Salembier began his career in the entertainment industry as a screenwriter before climbing the ranks at Walt Disney Studios. He spent the past decade as a creative executive within Disney’s live-action arm, working on films including Christopher Robin, The One and Only Ivan, Timmy Failure, Artemis Fowl, Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp, Safety, Pinocchio, and Peter Pan and Wendy. He most recently served as lead executive on Rise and Chang Can Dunk.

LAIKA was founded in 2005 in Oregon by President & CEO Travis Knight. The studio’s five films: Coraline (2009), ParaNorman (2012), The Boxtrolls (2014), Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) and Missing Link (2019) have all been nominated for the Academy Award® for Outstanding Animated Feature. Kubo and the Two Strings won the BAFTA® Award for Best Animated Film and received an additional Oscar® nomination for Visual Effects. Missing Link was awarded the Golden Globe® for Best Animated Film. LAIKA was awarded a Scientific and Technology Oscar® in 2016 for its innovation in 3D printing. LAIKA is currently in production on its sixth animated film Wildwood, based on the book series by Colin Meloy and illustrator Carson Ellis. The studio is in development on The Night Gardener, an animated film from an original idea by Bill Dubuque, creator of the hit series Ozark as well as its first live-action feature film based on the action thriller novel Seventeen by screenwriter John Brownlow.

Photo Credits:
Jeremy Kipp Walker:  Courtesy of Caturely
Chaz Salembier:  Courtesy of Chaz Salembier  

(Source : press release)