DePaul frosh a partner in Troika music/feature firm

Luke Jaden

Last October, Luke Jaden joined forces with producer Cort Johns and composer John Beltran to launch Troika — a film financing development company based in Chicago with a music division in Detroit.

Due to start filming in Detroit in December, with Jaden at the helm, is “an untitled dystopian thriller dealing with teenagers in the style of ‘Stand By Me’ meets Terrence Mallick,” he says.

It will make Troika’s fourth film currently in various stages of production and, he adds, “Troika is looking at other projects” and “searching for musicians who want to get into the film business.”

Partners Johns and Beltran, both in their 30s, compliment his talent, which is quite remarkable as Jaden is currently a DePaul freshman studying film and finance. 

Beltran’s discography includes twenty solo albums and songs featured on “Six Feet Under” and “Oprah’s Next Chapter.” After he and Jaden were introduced by a mutual musician friend, Jaden recalls, “the seed began to grow.”

Johns is not only credited on dozens of films including the feature, “Anagram,” which he’s currently producing, but he’s also an entertainment attorney.

He and Jaden met on the set of “Madman or Martyr,” the documentary Jaden made about abolitionist John Brown. After screening it for his American History class, he remembers that “nobody was clapping.”

That was because the silence was prompted by a sense of awe. The film would quickly make headlines in USA Today, premiere at the Detroit Free Press Film Festival and lay the groundwork for him to launch Troika. 

All that happened less than two years ago. 

“Nobody considered me as a filmmaker until they saw the film,” says Jaden.  But there were a few who believed in his potential. Among them was industry veteran, cinematographer Joel Warren (“Robocop,” “The Vampire Diaries”).

Warren responded to one of the “tons of emails” that Jaden had sent to people who inspired him while making “Madman.” After reviewing the script and talking things over, he said “let’s rock and roll,” and came on as DP.

At the same time, Jaden was also familiarizing himself with the financial end of the business. He developed relationships with investors in the Midwest and LA and “flat out film producers.”

Troika’s variety of films in development

Here’s a short list of Troika projects with loglines provided by the young maestro himself:

“‘Not Well’ is the story of what goes on in the haunted house before the family moves in… a really interesting perspective.” It was written by Josh Malerman, best-selling author of the HarperCollins novel, “Bird Box,” and is currently being edited by Beast and Company 3’s Adam Pillon, who Jaden describes as a “mastermind.”

“‘The Neverlands’ is ‘Mystic River’ meets ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild.’” Directed by Jaden and starring Langston Fishburne (son of Laurence), it is currently being edited by Nick Hyrcyk in Plymouth, Mich.

“‘Snowbirds’ is a feverish tale of a teenager who goes into the underbelly of Detroit and gets into the metal scrapping business.” Currently in development with Frank Capra III (grandson of Frank) signed as director.

Their untitled dystopian thriller was also written by Josh Malerman. It was cast by PR casting’s Mickie Paskal and Jennifer Rudnicke — who Jaden insists are “absolutely amazing.”