Seattle-based MindRiot Entertainment is teaming up with Panama’s Hypatia Films, an associate producer of Claire Denis’ Cannes Grand Prix winner “Stars at Noon,” on the groundbreaking documentary, “In Search of Atlantis,” based on the findings of Seattle native Dr. Jason Rubin who has used deductive reasoning, the writings of philosopher Plato and the most advanced satellite sonar imagery to pinpoint the location of the fabled lost island of Atlantis.
According to MindRiot co-founder and chief creative officer Jonathan Keasey, Dr. Rubin passed on other Hollywood suitors as he liked MindRiot’s approach to the content and the fact that it had marshalled the support of multiple universities, including deep sea explorer Don Walsh, the honorary president of the Explorers Club, and even European authorities, given the maritime jurisdiction of Rubin’s site in the Atlantic Ocean.
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Keasey, who plans to attend the festival, first begun collaborating with Hypatia Films, run by Pituka Ortega Heilbron, on WWII drama “Down Wind.” The WGA screenwriter-producer has drafted the screenplay with its director, Guatemala’s Jayro Bustamante (“La Llorona,” “Ixcanul”), helping to polish the Spanish dialogue of the mainly English-language script. “Though the film is based on New Mexican source material, the subject matter once again has tendrils that reach into MindRiot’s home turf, this time the nuclear plant in Hanford, Washington, whose scientists created the plutonium for ‘Trinity’ and the detonation of the first atomic bomb in 1945,” said Keasey. “I knew the film needed a writer and producing partner with a deep and embedded understanding of the regional material. MindRiot was that U.S. partner,” said Ortega Heilbron.
These are just two of the multiple projects brewing at MindRiot, which has built a slate of interesting projects from its Pacific Northwest base. “Washington State is bursting with creative talent, beyond just tech tycoons, as well as ideas and stories, with no real access to the development arms of the studio system,” said Keasey who co-wrote MindRiot’s first film, “Parallel,” with its stars Aldis Hodge (DC Comics’ “Black Adam”) and Edwin Hodge (“The Tomorrow War,” “FBI: Most Wanted”). For MindRiot, “Parallel,” now in post, has become its first bridge to Hollywood.
As the Hodge brothers pointed out: “Working with Keasey and MindRiot in Seattle only empowered and informed our film. MindRiot is making huge waves in an often overlooked region, which is desperately needed for our country’s film industry so we don’t only hear the same voices in the same locations all the time.”
“It’s inclusion in another way, a geographic way, and we’re excited to be partnered with MindRiot on this project and much more,” they said, adding that a TV series, “Roughstock,” is now in development with the Seattle company.
Co-produced with Rumble Riot Pictures and directed by Iranian-American director Kourosh Ahari (“The Night”), the sci-fi thriller is an adaptation of Chinese pic, “Parallel Forest.” Reset in the pristine, old growth forests of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, it follows the journey of a grief-stricken woman who finds herself mysteriously navigating parallel spaces, the synopsis goes.
MindRiot is also stepping into the world of women’s professional soccer in “Emerald City F.C.,” inspired by MindRiot’s head of production, Madeline Down, who previously served as a content producer for Seattle’s National Women’s Soccer League team, the OL Reign. “Women’s stories, especially women involved in professional athletics, are part of my DNA as we are constantly fighting to stay at the top of our game while fighting for societal respect,” said Down, who adds that the source material is based on the experience of World Cup and NWSL players and coaches. In keeping with MindRiot’s Northwest roots, the pilot has been financed by Seattle-based philanthropist and producer, Rebecca Petriello.
Washington has been doing its part to encourage location filming in the state. Last March, it passed legislation to increase the amount of B&O (Business & Occupation) tax credits that the MCPC (Motion Picture Competitiveness Program) can award to films, up from $3.5 million per annum to $15 million. It also boosted the individual tax credit that a film can receive from $750,000 to $1 million.
In April 2021, King County executive Dow Constantine opened a new film production facility on Harbor Island, an artificial island in the mouth of the Duwamish River in Seattle. This production studio is King County’s first major public investment aimed at reviving a once-thriving film industry and restoring hundreds of creative economy jobs as the region rebounds from the pandemic.
“In many ways, we intend to do for writers and development what Sub Pop did for unknown bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden until they exploded! We know we have the juice and content to do the same… just wait,” Keasey promised.
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