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Unions Are Biggest Obstacle In Indie Film Production, Film Execs Say

ifta1Foreign film sales execs took aim at Hollywood guilds and unions at the Independent Film & Television Alliance Production Conference today, citing them as the biggest roadblocks in getting indie films made. “I get it that stars like Bruce Willis are getting paid the big money, they are the driving force behind these films getting made, but I don’t get the guys who pull cables that make $100,000 a year,” said Voltage Pictures president and CEO Nicolas Chartier during the IFTA panel on indie finance and production.

chartierChartier, whose credits as producer include The Hurt Locker and Killer Joe, specifically cited SAG-AFTRA residuals, and how indie filmmakers are required to make deposits on residuals for films even if they haven’t generated revenue. “Residuals used to be based on movies playing on free TV. Hurt Locker and Michael Clayton never played on free TV, so why am I paying residuals two years before the movie is made?” he said. He added: “It’s getting worse: the amount of paperwork we have do with the unions. All we do is is contracts and collections. I came into this business as a writer with Cassian Elwes as my agent. Now, we’re lawyers, suing people and going to arbitration.”

Related: Cassian Elwes Slams Studios & Agencies Over “Rubbish” Tentpole System

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Cannes: Voltage Taps Gabriele Muccino To Helm Black List ‘Fathers And Daughters’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Voltage Productions has set Gabriele Muccino to direct Fathers And Daughters, a Black List script by Brad Desch. Voltage is out to cast on the film and is looking to sell it here at Cannes. Muccino helmed the Will Smith films The Pursuit Of Happyness and Seven Pounds after coming to Hollywood off the success of L’Ultimo Bacio. The plot: a Pulitzer-winning writer grapples with being a widower and father after a mental breakdown. Much later, his grown daughter struggles to forge connections of her own.

The film will be produced by Voltage’s Craig J. Flores and Nicolas Chartier and Busted Shark Productions’ Sherryl Clark. Clark, whose credits include Cloverfield and Morning Glory, developed the screenplay with Desch and it was one of the first projects under her new shingle Busted Shark. Voltage bought it after the script made the Black List. Desch separately set his script Shotgun Lovesongs at Fox Searchlight, with Clark also producing.

CAA and Untitled rep Muccino and Desch is repped by ICM Partners and Management 360. Voltage’s Babacar Diene is overseeing. Voltate and ICM Partners will sell the film here.

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Voltage Pictures To Fund ‘Home Invasion’, A Low Budget Pic From Joel Silver

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Voltage Pictures has committed to finance Home Invasion, a thriller developed by Silver Pictures’ low-budget label Zinc Entertainment. The plot is being kept under wraps, but the title offers clues aplenty. I’m told the story involves a family imprisoned in their own home by intruders who play a life-and-death game in which the mysterious rules become clear as the night unfolds. The script was written by neophyte Joseph Dembner and will be directed by first-timer Sean Carter. After hatching the concept with Silver Pictures’ Alex Heineman, Dembner wrote the screenplay on spec. Joel Silver, Andrew Rona and Heineman will produce. After the Home Invasion script was turned in, those producers shot a test scene that Carter directed and then shopped it. Voltage’s Nicolas Chartier and Craig Flores sparked to it, and they also will be producers. Dembner is co-producer, and Silver’s Steve Richards will be exec producer with Michael Fiore. Read More »

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Nicolas Chartier Bullish On ‘Charlie Countryman’ Heading Into Berlin

Mike Fleming

The hot hot buzz titles at Sundance have been brokered, and while nobody involved in that festival seems to have yet caught up on sleep, the festival is fast fading in the rear view mirror. So what happens to the films that came in with big hopes but haven’t yet sold? Are they headed to the movie equivalent of the Island of Misfit Toys? Hardly, says Voltage chief Nicolas Chartier.

He came to Sundance with two films, and watched the Joe Gordon-Levitt-directed Don Jon’s Addiction quickly sell for close to a festival record $4 million with a $25 million P&A commitment for summer release by Relativity Media. His other Sundance pic, The Shia La Beouf-starrer The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman directed by Fredrik Bond, didn’t walk off the slopes with a deal. Read More »

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Uday Chopra’s YRF Launches By Funding Jason Bateman Comedy ‘The Longest Week’

By | Tuesday November 22, 2011 @ 7:07am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: YRF Entertainment has launched with this week’s production start of The Longest Week, the Peter Glanz-directed comedy that stars Jason Bateman, Olivia Wilde and Billy Crudup. The film just got underway in New York, and Bateman plays an immature man-child who still lives with his parents in a chic Manhattan hotel but suddenly finds himself evicted, disinherited and hopelessly in love with his best friend’s girlfriend (Wilde).

YRF, which will produce and finance films for U.S. and the international marketplace, was started by Uday Chopra, who came on to fully finance The Longest Week when the film’s original backer dropped out. Chopra is producing with Neda Armian. Jonathan Reiman, Chris Marsh, Stone Douglass and Taylor Materne are executive producers. Reiman is Chopra’s new head of development and production.

Chopra grew up learning the film business Bollywood-style. His father is Yash Chopra, whose Yash Raj Films is a prolific producer and distributor. The 41-year old company will make five to seven Indian films next year. Chopra has done everything from starring in those films to writing them (Love Impossible). His father’s company is backing YRF and Chopra’s ambition to break into Hollywood fare as a producer/financier.

“The decision for me was not based on money but rather my passion to make American movies,” Chopra told me. “I grew up watching American films and television, and I wanted to explore it, even though I … Read More »

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Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie, And Richard Jenkins Keep ‘Company’ With Robert Redford

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Robert Redford has set Susan Sarandon, Julie Christie and Richard Jenkins to star in The Company You Keep, the drama Redford is directing and starring in alongside Shia LaBeouf, Nick Nolte and Brit Marling. The film’s a co-production between Voltage Pictures and Wildwood Enterprises.

The film is an adaptation of the Neil Gordon novel, scripted by Lem Dobbs. It’s the story of an ex-Weather Underground militant wanted by the FBI for 30 years who must go on the run when his true identity is exposed by a young, ambitious reporter. Redford plays the former radical at the center of this nationwide manhunt, and LaBeouf is the determined journalist. Sarandon and Christie play former Weather Underground members who were accomplices in the bank robbery, and Jenkins plays a college professor who is a link to former radicals in hiding.

Redford, Bill Holderman and Nicolas Chartier are producing, and Craig J. Flores is the executive producer. Voltage Pictures is selling the picture internationally and the film begins production in Vancouver next month. Sarandon’s repped by ICM, Christie by WME, and Jenkins by Gersh.

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Rob Cohen And Voltage Team On ‘Bullet Run,’ A ‘Fast & The Furious’ In The Desert

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Voltage Productions has set Rob Cohen to direct Bullet Run, an Andrew Hilton-scripted action film that puts Cohen back on the fast car track he was on when he helmed The Fast & The Furious. Voltage Productions producers Nicolas Chartier and Craig Flores acquired the script as a spec and brought on Cohen. The intention is for him to direct after he completes the Summit Entertainment adaptation of the James Patterson novel I, Alex Cross, which will star Tyler Perry and Matthew Fox.

The head of an elite private protection team and his former CIA agent wife infiltrate the closed borders of Iran to abduct a man who killed their daughter. The extraction goes awry and they force to rely on their world-class driving skills and a fleet of high-performance street cars to travel 200 miles through a hail of bullets to keep alive the man they really want dead. Zev Foreman is exec producer.

Bullet Run can be a unique and genre-bending action film with huge international appeal,” Cohen said. Hilton scripted The Lost Patrol, which is set up at Legendary Pictures for Steven Norrington to direct. Cohen’s repped by WME, Hilton by Nethercott Agency. Chartier will sell offshore territories, and they haven’t yet made a domestic distribution deal.

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‘Conan The Barbarian’ Helmer Marcus Nispel To Next Direct ‘Backmask’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Conan the Barbarian helmer Marcus Nispel will next direct Backmask, a $10 million film that will begin shooting this summer. It’s based on an idea by Nispel, whose recent films include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th. Kirsten Elms is writing the script. Nispel is keeping the plot close to his vest, allowing only that it involves paranoia, possession and the paranormal. The film will be produced by Steven Schneider, one of the architects behind the Paranormal Activity films as well as the haunted kid hit Insidious and the upcoming Barry Levinson-directed eco-thriller The Bay.

Voltage Pictures’ Nicolas Chartier will unveil the title at Cannes this week, where he’ll broker international territories, while WME Global’s Graham Taylor will handle North American sales. The film is being funded by 1821′s Paris Latsis and Terry Dougas, who’ll produce with Schneider and Nispel. The filmmaker is repped by WME, while Elms is repped by Gersh and Generate.

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Nicolas Chartier Teams With Hollywood Gang’s Craig Flores In Production Shingle

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Voltage Pictures chief Nicolas Chartier is branching out from foreign sales into the production game. He has partnered with longtime Hollywood Gang executive Craig Flores to form Voltage Productions, an offshoot of Voltage Pictures that will generate large pictures set at studios, and films in the $15 million-$40 million budget range that will be funded through a combination of pre-sales, debt and equity. The latter formula is the one that the French producer employed to fund the Kathryn Bigelow-directed The Hurt Locker–which brought him a Best Picture Academy Award–and the recently wrapped William Friedkin-directed Killer Joe, which stars Matthew McConaughey. Chartier’s best known, of course, for being dis-invited to the Oscars–he got his trophy later–after sending e-mails lobbying for his film. Many in Hollywood rallied behind him, even throwing him a viewing party thrown by WME Global’s Graham Taylor, and producers Mike Fleiss and Lynette Howell in Malibu.

Flores, who entered the business as an attorney, spent the past eight years with Gianni Nunnari’s Warner Bros-based Hollywood Gang. Flores will remain an exec producer on projects he developed with Nunnari that include the upcoming the Tarsem Singh-directed Immortals, and adaptations of Frank Miller’s Ronin, the Conn Iggulden Julius Caesar novel series that’ll be directed by Burr Steers, and a Mexico City-set thriller being scripted by Gravity co-writer Jonas Cuaron. Flores was exec producer on Hollywood Gang pics 300 and Everybody’s Fine.

Said Chartier: “Craig and I have wanted to work together … Read More »

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