Jhené Chase Directing ‘Santa’s List’; NewNarratives Award Recipients Unveiled – Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: Jhené Chase has been tapped to direct Winter State Entertainment‘s forthcoming Christmas thriller, Santa’s List — a film described as a festive Christmas version of your favorite slashers.

Written by Winter State’s Hamid and Camille Torabpour, the film is set in Deep Haven, which is known for its world-renowned Santa Claus festival that keeps the small town alive all year round. But beneath all the Christmas Spirit, tinsel and lights, there’s a darkness lurking. And this year, the 12 days of Christmas get turned upside down. After the murder of her best friend, big city detective, Eve, is lured back to her hometown to solve the crime. With each passing victim, the killer seems to be closer to home than ever. Will she solve what “my true love gave to me” before it’s too late or will Santa check the final name off his list?

Chase will produce alongside Hamid and Camille Torabpour, as well as Nick Hagen, Dr. Mark Smith, and Winter State Entertainment. The Torabpours are represented by Karen Gottlieb at Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks.


Victor Velasco, Jahmil Eady, Jess Dang and Winnie Cheung, NewNarratives Award recipients

(L-R) Victor Velasco, Jahmil Eady, Jess Dang and Winnie Cheung

EXCLUSIVE: Non-profit NewFilmmakers Los Angeles has named the 2023 winners of its NewNarratives Awards, who will benefit from $5,000 each in cash grant funding via a new partnership with the Rhulen Family Foundation, in honor of the late independent movie producer Anthony Rhulen (The Butterfly Effect). Among them are Jess Dang, whose funding will go toward the development of her narrative feature, Surrender; Jahmil Eady, who will further development on her narrative short, Haint; Winnie Cheung, who will now gear up for pre-production on the animated narrative short, Last Call; and Victor Velasco, who is pursuing pre-production on the narrative short I Have Wings But I Cannot Fly.

Launched in 2021 through a development and funding collaboration with Warner Bros. Discovery, NewNarratives is an initiative designed to support rising filmmakers in the creation of short, feature and episodic series, documentary, experimental and/or animation projects in any stage of production. Since its inception, the program has received over 600 entries from 60+ countries, leading to over $170,000 in funding for independent creators. This year’s 205+ qualified applicants repped 33 countries including Bolivia, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Honduras, India, Malta, Türkiye, Ukraine, Venezuela and more.

Said NFMLA’s Executive Director Larry Laboe and Programming Director Bojana Sandic in a joint statement, “We’re blown away by the global pool of artists who submitted projects this year. To see entries from literally every corner of the world speaks volumes about NFMLA’s reach internationally and the depth of artists who are eager to tap into the LA market and the resources that we provide.”


Bryce Hodgson, Hunter Dillon, Kevin Nguyen, Fred Nguyen Khan, and Tony Nappo, 'Thanks to the Hard Work of Elephants' creatives

(L-R) Bryce Hodgson, Hunter Dillon, Kevin Nguyen, Fred Nguyen Khan, and Tony Nappo

Farrah Aviva/Jenna Berman/Ezra Gillera/Alex Tran/Christina Cox

EXCLUSIVE: Actor-turned-filmmaker Bryce Hodgson (iZombie) has entered production on his first feature, Thanks to the Hard Work of the Elephants. Set to star alongside him in the pic, based on a true story, are Hunter Dillon, newcomer Kevin Nguyen, Fred Nguyen Khan, Tony Nappo, Ryan McDonald, and musician Kimberly Ha. The Toronto production falls under the jurisdiction of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television, and Radio Artists, so no Interim Agreement was required before entering the casting or production process.

Hailing from Studio 104 Entertainment, CouKuma Productions, and Harrington Studio, the film follows two teenage boys who escape incarceration while high on LSD. During their escape, they steal the treatment center van, driving 400 kilometers to a Walmart parking lot, determined to start an alternative youth commune in a nearby suburban forest.

Hodgson is directing from his script, also serving as editor for the project. Producers are Caitlyn Sponheimer, Mike Johnston, and Katia Shannon. Executive producers are Matt Kerr, Charlie Kerr, Abubakar Salim, and Robert Montcalm of Surgent Studios. Hodgson is repped by Creative Drive Artists and Principals Talent Management; Dillon by Play Management and Alchemy Entertainment; Khan by Martinez Creative Management; Nappo by Noble Caplan Abrams; and McDonald by Oscars Abrams Zimel & Associates.


Kirk Fox in 'The Devil Comes to Kansas City'

Kirk Fox in The Devil Comes to Kansas City

S&R Films

EXCLUSIVE: Scatena & Rosner Films has secured worldwide sales rights to Michael P. Blevins’ crime drama The Devil Comes to Kansas City, starring Kirk Fox (Jury Duty) and Ben Gavin (Super 8), and will begin selling them at the upcoming AFM, having already sold North American, UK and Ireland rights to Saban Films for a late October release.

The film follows the story of an ex-mercenary who, in the wake of his wife’s murder and daughter’s kidnapping, travels to Kansas City to get his daughter back and deliver justice to the damned. It’s just one project on which Blevins has partnered with S&R — another being the Iowa-set crime thriller Winterset, which is currently in post.

The sales rights acquisition was negotiated by Gato Scatena and Blevins. The subsequent Saban sale was negotiated by Stephen Break on behalf of Saban Films, and Jordan Rosner on behalf of S&R Films and the filmmaker.





EXCLUSIVE: Deadline has the first trailer for Resurrektor, a proof-of-concept short from filmmaker Angad Aulakh, who is an alum of Ryan Murphy’s accelerator, the Half Initiative. Starring Taylor Cooper (The Morning Show), Guy Kent (The Atomic Dream), Ella Thomas (Nightbitch), and Lestonja Diaz (Nashville), the film recently premiered at the Oscar- and BAFTA-qualifying LA Shorts Fest and is set for Closing Night at the Canadian Screen Awards-qualifying New York Shorts Fest on October 19.

Resurrektor explores an age-old question: To what lengths would you go to bring back someone you love? In addition to two sisters separated by tragedy, its subjects include a grieving husband, looking for answers, and an innocent victim, caught in a web of desperation. Aulakh wrote the script with Taylor Sardoni and produced alongside his Last Carnival partner Guy Kent. The short comes on the heels of Aulakh and Kent’s The Atomic Dream, which won 22 awards at festivals around the world. Check out the trailer below.

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