Leigh Jones busy producing five films; “Nightingale” signs with producer’s rep

Half a year after leaving Bucktown Pictures, independent producer Leigh Jones is keeping a high profile with five films and an educational video series in various stages of development, production and distribution.

Producer Jones and writer/director Hurt McDermott just signed with producer’s rep Seth Kittay of All Channel Films to handle non-theatrical markets for their micro budget psychological thriller “Nightingale in a Music Box.”

“We’re not aggressively seeking theatrical distribution,” Jones said. “We’re always looking to do a remake with a decent budget.”

Kelly Hazen in “Nightingale in a Music Box”

Los Angeles-based All Channel repped last year’s “Narc” and negotiated the alliance between Palm Pictures and local animation distributors Manga Entertainment.

“Nightingale” won the Jury Honor for Excellence in Writing at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival and will screen in the Film Center’s “Best of Slamdance” program Aug. 28.

Jones is line producer on Patrick Read Johnson’s “Star Wars” homage “5-25-77,” which starts filming in the north suburbs in late August with Joe Pantoliano, Carrie Fisher and Christopher Lloyd.

She is producing the untitled feature debut of local music video veteran Nancy Bardawil (Courtney Love, Goo Goo Dolls, Bon Jovi), a high school coming of age story written by David Simon. Jones is seeking $5 million and hopes to shoot in summer 2005. “I’m looking for private investors and at the same time considering shopping it to independent studios,” she said.

“Consuming Spirits,” the seven-years-in-the- making animated feature by Art Institute professor Chris Sullivan, is another of her producing projects. “Spirits” is a “slightly surreal” story of three newspaper employees in a small Rustbelt town investigating the mysterious connections in their childhoods. The picture is slated for completion this fall and aimed for the 2005 festival circuit.

“Chris has been doing everything himself in his basement, more or less, so I’m just now getting more active, now that it’s almost ready,” Jones said.

Double Dutch Films, the production company Jones runs with Ericka Frederick of Kodak, is at work on a short and a set of educational videos. The Double Dutch production of “Life Like” by John Besmer of Madison’s Planet Propaganda starts shooting Aug. 8.

Double Dutch has completed two videos in the potentially larger “Learning Games” series for the University of North Carolina. “Learning Games” is a collaboration with UNC developmental psychologist Joseph Sparling. “Joseph has developed these games to teach at-risk parents, mostly inner-city teen moms, ways to interact with their children so they have a better chance in life,” Jones said.

“Nightingale in a Music Box” screens at 7:45 p.m. Aug. 28 at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State.

Reach Jones at doubledutchfilms@earthlink.net.

– by Ed M. Koziarski, edk@homesickblues.com