EXCLUSIVE: Longtime Double Feature Films partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher are amicably splitting up. They formed their shingle in 2003 after splitting with Danny DeVito and Jersey Films, and they have spent the last 22 years together. Between those two companies, they are the kind of understated producers where you look at their resume and go, wow, they made a lot of good movies. That encompasses everything from Get Shorty to Pulp Fiction, Reality Bites, Garden State, Gattaca, Out Of Sight, Man On The Moon, World Trade Center, Contagion, Erin Brockovich and Django Unchained. Shamberg and Sher continue as partners in their television company which has a first-look deal at AMC. They decided they want to pursue film projects individually, but they will remain partners on they Double Feature projects they have percolating – a list that includes Zach Braff’s crowd-funded indie Wish I Was Here and the Scott Frank-directed adaptation of the Lawrence Block mystery novel A Walk Among The Tombstones, which will star Liam Neeson.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s conference coverage.
The Kickstarter model of financing movies was front and center this morning at a Produced By conference panel entitled “The State of Producing — Finding Funding, Lining Up Talent & Securing Screens,” which replaced the scheduled session with Tom Cruise (postponed to next weekend). Before the seats were even warm, producer Stacey Sher (Django Unchained, Erin Brockovich, Pulp Fiction) was quizzed about her groundbreaking Kickstarter effort in April on behalf of Zach Braff that found his project Wish I Was Here meeting its $2 million fundraising goal in a mere four days en route to a 30-day total of $3.1 million from a grand total of 46,520 pledgers). “We were absolutely shocked,” Sher admitted. “We became these people who lived for 30 days under both a microscope and a spotlight. And it was excruciating.” Why “excruciating”? Sher explained that by virtue of being Exhibit A in the new media funding model, the haters were inspired to come out of the woodwork wondering why they deserved this kind of support. But she stressed that the experience has been overwhelmingly encouraging and positive. “The people who backed the film are going through every step of its production with us, with more access to how it’s being put together than some of our interns,” she said. Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin and Josh Gad will join Braff in the film about a thirtysomething actor who is trying to figure out who he is.
2ND UPDATE, FRIDAY AM: The prognosticators who’ve been telling me that Kickstarter is a game-changing enterprise for movies, are proving to be so Kreskin-like, I will next challenge them to bend spoons with their brains (dated reference). Just a couple days into his attempt to raise $2 million to finance his film Wish I Was Here, Braff is already up to $1,766,130 and counting, from 25,245 people who’ve committed cash for a variety of tchotchkes. The game plan was to use Kickstarter funding, and foreign sales, to raise the $5 million needed to make the movie. Braff, producers Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg planned to work practically free, upfront. At this rate, Braff will reach his funding goal by the weekend. And with 28 days to go, they’ll likely wind up with enough dough to fund the whole movie without making pre-sales, and maybe enough to pay participants a little bit. This is startling, that so many people are betting on a filmmaker, and not donating because they just want to see a movie version of a favorite TV show like Veronica Mars.
EXCLUSIVE: AMC, the network behind Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, has signed a two-year first-look deal with film producers Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg‘s Double Feature Films. This marks the first such pact for Sher and Shamberg with a cable network. Under the deal, Double Feature Films will develop and produce scripted projects for AMC. The cable network, which built its brand with classic movies before branching out into original programming, has a successful track record working with feature producers — two of its signature drama series, The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, are executive produced by Gale Anne Hurd and Mark Johnson, respectively. “What AMC does so well is to tell great stories with fresh characters and their series truly feel like films,” Sher and Shamberg said. “This gives us the opportunity to take what we are so drawn to from the film side and make our own productions on the TV side.”
EXCLUSIVE: Cross Creek Pictures has stepped up to finance A Walk Among the Tombstones, an adaptation of the Lawrence Block novel that seemed to have been put to rest more than a decade ago. DJ Caruso is in discussions to direct a script by Scott Frank. It is one of two pictures Caruso is considering for his next film. The other is Preacher, the John August-scripted film for Sony Pictures and producer Neal Moritz.
Double Feature partners Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher are producing with Danny DeVito and Cross Creek president Brian Oliver. Shamberg, Sher and DeVito first got Frank to write a script while they were partners in Jersey Films. It had been set at Universal and once had Harrison Ford interested in playing Matthew Scudder, an alcoholic former cop who spends his retirement doing favors for friends, the kind that take him deep into the underbelly of New York City. In A Walk Among the Tombstones, a heroin kingpin’s wife is kidnapped and those kidnappers begin to send her back in pieces. The Scudder character was previously seen in 8 Million Ways To Die.
Back when I saw him in late February at Harvey Weinstein’s Oscar night party for The King’s Speech, Quentin Tarantino told me that his script for a Western was just pouring out of him easily, that he’d finished a …