Independent content creation and distribution company, Epic Story Media (ESM) is expanding its senior team with two new hires – former eOne acquisitions VP Jessica Labi as head of distribution and brand strategy alongside former Nickelodeon toys VP, David Sztoser as head of licensing and merchandising. Both of them will be working across ESM’s growing slate of creator-led brands.
The slate has recently expanded to represent global licensing rights to international animated series Slugterra, as well as licensing and television rights to Chaotic.
Originally produced by Ken Faier at Nerd Corps Entertainment, Slugterra was acquired by DHX Media in 2014. The series follows the heroic journey of teen Eli Shane and his best friends- the Shane Gang, as they fight for justice in the mysterious, high-tech underground world of Slugterra.
Slugterra aired on Disney XD and Netflix. JAKKS Pacific is the master toy partner for it. Its mobile games are created and distributed by Epic Story Interactive, (Epic Story Media’s sister company), garnering over 25M downloads till date.
Additionally, Epic has recently signed a deal with License Development Group (LLC) to obtain the global licensing and television rights to Chaotic – a sci-fi/action television series produced by Chaotic USA and 4Kids Entertainment. The series follows Tom, Kaz, Sarah and Peyton, a group of teenagers, who play the Chaotic trading card and online game portal. While playing online, he receives a special password and enters another world called Chaotic where the card game comes to life. The series aired on Cartoon Network, Disney XD and CW 4Kids in the U.S. and Teletoon in Canada as well as six European countries.
Epic will handle the Chaotic television sales and global licensing for the brand which previously sold record numbers of trading cards in North America, South America and Europe and had an Activision video game, Chaotic Shadow Warriors, based on the series available on PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360 and Nintendo DS which gained over two million users within the first year.
Epic Story Media founder and el presidente Ken Faier said, “We’ve started the year strong at Epic Story Media with two incredible new team members, Labi and Sztoser joining us as well as adding to a burgeoning slate of dynamic, creator-led brands for them to sink their teeth into. The company is founded on the belief that creators should be in the driving seat for their IP as it’s developed and expanded – an approach which is attracting talent across the board to partner with us.”
Jessica Labi joins ESM with over 18 years experience in kids and family content distribution. Beginning her career at kaBOOM! Entertainment, (and then Phase 4 Films) Jessica was responsible for marketing and distributing some leading brands including Franklin the Turtle, The Bernstein Bears, Cat in the Hat, Chuggington, DQ’s Jungle Book and Paw Patrol.
After the acquisition of Phase IV by Entertainment One, Labi became part of Entertainment One USA Films/Momentum Pictures as VP of Acquisitions, tasked with growing the kids and family category along with Entertainment One’s global digital distribution platform. Most recently Labi was at Viva Pictures serving as SVP. She also set up Hubble Entertainment, a production, consulting and sales company focused on global distribution.
Sztoser has worked for over 17 years in entertainment licensing and merchandising before joining ESM. He began his career with New Line Cinema as an assistant, then product coordinator on brands such as The Lord of the Rings, Austin Powers, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Following New Line, David went on to work with New York based licensing agency 4Kids Entertainment where he was the Manager of Licensing Sales and Marketing for brands such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Chaotic, and Yu-Gi-Oh!.
Most recently with Viacom for eight years as the VP of Toys under the Nickelodeon division, Sztoser managed the kids six to 11 team, overseeing the hard goods categories of toys, video games, sporting goods, consumer electronics, and high-end collectibles for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Paw Patrol.