Gang's all here with Mandate deal

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Writer Zach Helm and producing partner Jim Garavente of production shingle Gang of Two have signed a first-look deal with Mandate Pictures. Mandate is the company behind Helm's acclaimed comedy "Stranger Than Fiction" and upcoming family film "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium."

Gang of Two's mandate will be to produce films written by Helm as well as shepherd projects by other writers and directors.

Helm, whose career began in Chicago theater, worked with Garavente earlier in his career when the latter served as his literary agent. The two furthered their creative collaboration on Helm's directorial debut, "Wonder Emporium," where Garavente made the move from agent to the film's producer. It was the experience of working with Mandate on the two movies that informed the duo's decision.

"We appreciate the support and working relationship with Nathan (Kahane), Joe Drake and their team," Helm said. "The ideal projects for us are smart, absurd commercial comedies, and we hope to become a viable asset for filmmakers looking to get projects made here at Mandate."

Said Kahane: "I've admired Zach's original voice ever since I first read 'Stranger Than Fiction' and now even more having seen what he's created with 'Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium.' He is an extraordinary talent, and it feels great to be working with them in this new capacity."

The first project under the deal will be a comedy that focuses on the high-pressure world of high school speech and debate teams based on Helm's own embarrassing high school experiences. Gang of Two has brought on development execs-turned-writers David Posamentier and Geoff Moore to pen the untitled comedy, which will be fully financed by Mandate.

Matthew Milam will be overseeing the project on behalf of Mandate.

Gang of Two is repped by CAA and Hirsch Wallerstein Hayum Matlof and Fishman. Posamentier and Moore are repped by UTA, Kaplan/Perrone Entertainment and Colden, McKuin & Frankel.
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