Solondz Shoots HORSE

Ah, every movie has a good story behind it...  But for now I can only provide you our official release:

Todd Solondz Shoots Star-Studded ‘Dark Horse’ This Fall in New York

Critically acclaimed Indie auteur Todd Solondz (Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness, Storytelling), fresh off the success of Life During Wartime (winner of the best screenplay award at the Venice Film Festival), is rolling cameras on his latest feature, Dark Horse, with an all-star cast featuring Justin Bartha, Selma Blair, Mia Farrow, Jordan Gelber, Donna Murphy and Christopher Walken.  Dark Horse commenced principal photography on Monday, October 11th, 2010.

Veteran independent producer Ted Hope is producing under the banner Double Hope Films, his new Gotham-based production company. In addition to over sixty other films, Mr. Hope produced Mr. Solondz's Happiness andStorytelling. Derrick Tseng, who collaborated with Mr. Solondz on Life During Wartime and Palindromes is co-producing. Goldcrest Films has climbed aboard Dark Horse to ride herd on international sales.

Mr. Solondz helms the tale of Abe (Jordan Gelber), a 30-something who lives with his parents, reluctantly works for his father (Christopher Walken), and avidly collects toys. When Abe isn’t playing backgammon with his mother (Mia Farrow), he’s trying to romance Miranda (Selma Blair), another 30-something who has moved back in with her parents after her literary/academic career crashed. Out of desperation, Miranda agrees to marry Abe, and the two begin to plan their life together. But, just when it looks like things are starting to go right for Abe, everything goes horribly wrong.

Mr. Solondz exclaimed: "I am so lucky and grateful to have financing, and such a wonderful cast and crew, and on top of that to be reunited with producers Ted Hope and Derrick Tseng."

"We would drop whatever we were doing to get a chance to collaborate with Todd again.  He is one of a kind and always delivers both a unique film and a fun shoot," said Mr. Hope & Mr. Tseng.

Ms. Blair was thrilled to be rejoined with Mr. Solondz on the picture. "Todd has long been one of my favorite writers and directors, so this is the biggest gift I could be given right now. To work with him again is heaven,” said Ms. Blair. “He has such a sensitivity that it makes all of our jobs so much easier. It is rare to have a director so specific and brilliant in all his choices.”

Goldcrest Films International Executive Director Nick Quested was also elated about his company’s involvement with the project. "Goldcrest's close involvement across the financing and production of this wonderful project gives us the perfect opportunity to show what support we can offer to extraordinary talent like Todd and Ted," said Mr. Quested.

As is consistent with Mr. Solondz’s awardiwinning scripts, Dark Horse has corralled an ensemble of the highest pedigree.

Christopher Walken (Jackie, Abe’s dad) won an Academy Award and the New York Film Critic's Circle Award for his performance in The Deer Hunter. Mr. Walken also received an Academy Award nomination and won BAFTA and SAG awards for Catch Me If You Can. He has appeared in such films as Annie HallPennies From Heaven,The Dead ZoneAt Close RangeBiloxi BluesKing of New YorkMan On FireMan of the YearWedding Crashers, HairsprayTrue RomancePulp Fiction, and Batman Returns. He was recently nominated for a 2010 Tony Award for his performance in A Behanding in Spokane. International Creative Management negotiated the deal on behalf of Mr.Walken.

Mia Farrow (Phyllis, Abe’s mom) has appeared in such memorable films as Rosemary’s BabyThe Great GatsbyDeath on the Nile, as well as numerous Woody Allen films, including Hannah and her SistersCrimes and Misdemeanors, and Alice.  In 2008, she appeared in Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind.  Ms. Farrow has been a high profile advocate for children's rights, working to raise funds and awareness for children in conflict-affected regions, predominantly in Africa. Judy Hofflund and Laura Berwick at The Hofflund Company negotiated Ms. Farrow’s deal.

Selma Blair (Miranda, Abe’s girlfriend) first catapulted to prominence with her breakout comic performances inCruel Intentions and Legally Blonde.  She followed those films working with a diverse body of directors including Guillermo Del Toro (HellboyHellboy 2: The Golden Army), Robert Benton (Feast of Love), and John Waters (A Dirty Shame).  This is her second film with Mr. Solondz, following her performance in the award-winningStorytelling. Leslie Siebert at Gersh and Troy Nankin at Global Creative negotiated the deal for Ms. Blair.

Having beat out far better known names for the hotly contested lead of Abe, Jordan Gelber follows in the footsteps of relative-unknowns-turned-stars cast by Mr. Solondz on a list that numbers Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti. Mr. Gelber was most recently seen in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, appearing in the first three episodes under the direction of Martin Scorsese and Tim Van Patten. Jordan is no stranger to great directors, having worked with Sidney Lumet (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead), Penny Marshall (Riding in Cars with Boys), Tony Scott (The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3), Roger Michell (Changing Lanes) and Jim McKay, the writer/director of 2004 Sundance entry Everyday People, for which Jordan was nominated for an IFP/Gotham Award for Breakthrough Acting. On stage, Jordan is perhaps best recognized for originating the role of Brian in the Tony Award-winning Avenue Q, for which he received an Outer Critics Circle Award. Paul Reisman at Abrams Artists negotiated the deal for Mr. Gelber.

Fresh from his success as the lead of the Tony-nominated farce, Lend Me a Tenor, Justin Bartha plays Abe’s brother Richard.  Mr. Bartha is perhaps best known for his role as the wise-cracking Riley Poole in the National Treasure franchise, and for his turn as the lost groom pals Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms are desperately searching for in the 2009 blockbuster The Hangover.  But he also loves the independent world, and showed his range this year in the well-received Sundance drama, Holy Rollers, with Jesse Eisenberg.  He is currently in production on The Hangover 2. Mr. Bartha is rep’d by George Freeman at WME Entertainment and Evelyn O’Neill at Management 360.

Donna Murphy, playing Abe’s father’s secretary Marie, is an accomplished and respected actress who has been building a career of striking range and diversity. Ms. Murphy has won two Tony awards, three Drama Desk awards, a Daytime Emmy, and appeared in such films as The Nanny Diaries, Spiderman 2, and The Door in the Floor. Innovative Artists’ Ken Lee and Brookside Artist Management’s Emily Gerson-Saines negotiated the deal on behalf of Ms. Murphy.

Aasif Mandvi, who plays Miranda’s semi-ex-boyfriend Mahmoud, is a correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Mr. Mandvi is the recipient of the 1999 OBIE Award for his critically acclaimed play,Sakina’s Restaurant. His feature film, Today’s Special, which he co-wrote and stars in, is being released in theaters November 19, 2010. Recent features include The Last AirbenderGhost Town, and It’s Kind of a Funny Story, which is currently in theaters. International Creative Management negotiated the deal on behalf of Mr. Mandvi. He is managed by Sweet 180.

Zachary Booth, playing Abe’s easygoing cousin Justin, is a rising star in film, television, and theater. He has appeared in Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock and Peter Sollett’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist as well as onDamages and Royal Pains. He is currently starring in the New York Premiere of Edward Albee’s new Me, Myself & I. Stephen Hirsh of Gersh and Laurie Smith of Smith Talent Group negotiated the deal on behalf of Mr. Booth.

Independent Spirit Award-nominee Andrij Parekh (Blue Valentine, Cold Souls) is the cinematographer, Alex DiGerlando (The Answer Man, Pretty Bird) is the production designer, Kevin Messman (Life During Wartime, Palindromes) is the editor, Kurt and Bart (It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Step Up 3D) are the costume designers, Ann Goulder (AdventurelandThe Nanny Diaries) and Gayle Keller (Welcome to Academia, Life During Wartime) are the casting directors, and Atilla Salih Yücer (Kick Ass, 3 Backyards) is the first assistant director.

Mr. Solondz is a favorite of the critics: his 1996 Welcome to the Dollhouse won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival; his 1998 Happiness won the International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay; and his most recent film Life During Wartimewon the best screenplay award at the Venice Film Festival in 2009.

Ted Hope is the co-founder of Good Machine, This is that, and, most recently, Double Hope Films, his new production company. His most recent production was Super, one of the hits of the recent Toronto Film Festival and the first sale there this year. He has produced over sixty films, including three Sundance Grand Prize winners and the first features of Alan Ball, Michel Gondry, Hal Hartley, Nicole Holofcener, and Ang Lee. He blogs and co-founded the Indie Film review site

In addition to Life During Wartime and Palindromes, Derrick Tseng has co-produced films for award-winning directors Robert Altman, Steve Buscemi, David Gordon Green, Brad Anderson, and Kevin Smith, including Tanner on TannerLonesome JimAll the Real GirlsHappy Accidents, and Chasing Amy.

Goldcrest is a fully integrated film company providing finance, production, international sales, rights management, and award-winning post-production facilities to major US studios and renowned film companies around the world. Established in 1977, Goldcrest has financed, produced and/or distributed over 100 titles that have won numerous prizes including 19 Academy Awards and 28 BAFTAs. Celebrated titles include GandhiThe Killing FieldsThe MissionChariots of FireA Room with a View, and All Dogs Go To Heaven.

Dark Horse is shooting in Westchester and Long Island, New York this October and November.

Life During Wartime is currently in theatrical release and available on IFC On Demand.