Ex-agency creative Manera’s ambitious feature debuts


Writer/director Jim Manera

Heading for theatrical distribution this month is LA-based writer/director Jim Manera’s feature, “Who is John Galt?” based on the protagonist in Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, “Atlas Shrugged” and set in 2015. The film, which Manera wrote and directed, will premiere Sept. 12 in 300 theatres.    

This is the first theatrical feature for Manera, a former long-time, high-profile, multiple award-winning Chicago agency creative, after 26 years of one hour network series drama, documentaries, second unit feature film directing and commercial production Blindfaith company.

“Who Is John Galt?” is the final film in the film trilogy adaptation of Ayn Rand’s massive, influential novel “Atlas Shrugged” that was published more than 50 years ago.  The earlier films had been released in October 2012 and April, 2011 to mild reviews.

The “Galt” script took Manera four months to write. The novel is nearly, 1,200 pages with a 60-page speech by John Galt, which Manera had to condense to four minutes. “I put a great deal of time and effort into adapting Rand’s characters so they would deliver the complexities in the novel,” said. 

Kristoffer Polaha plays John GaltIt stars Kristopher Polaha as John Galt, Joaquim De Almeida as Francisco D’Anconia and Rob Morrow as Hank Rearden. Manera largely selected the entire cast of nearly 50 himself and locked them to contracts inside of three weeks. 

They filmed the movie, budgeted at $5 million, in only 18 days through last February with DP, Gale Tattersall (“The commitments”), an expert in HHDLR capture. “Galt” was one of the first full-length features to be captured exclusively on Canon C-500 4K camera systems. 

This summer, Manera was in Chicago working on the development of a pilot for a series that about the Chicago Board of Trade, called “The Exchange,” that revolves around the corruption that took place at the CBOT in the 1980s. He will be the showrunner and director. The project originated from Chicagoans Jacob Fine and Andy Rosenthal, the producers and techinical advisors on “The Exchange.”

“We will produce the pilot episode in Chicago and then look to partner with a cable entity for a series pick-up and distribution deal,” Manera said.  “The series is based on actual events, not unlike “The Wolf of Wall Street’ in that the material will be business harsh, lifestyle abrasive and sexual.”

Manera’ next feature project is a $24 million-budgeted movie currently in development that will be shot in Spain.