Spirit of 72: Chaiken, Dungan

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Indie producers Jennifer Chaiken and Sebastian Dungan are teaming to form 72 Prods., a Los Angeles-based company that will focus on the acquisition and development of feature film projects.

Dungan, who produced last year's low-budget breakout "Transamerica," said the company will be unique because independent producers rarely fund development.

"The idea is to put together really good projects that down the line will attract money," he said. "(First-time) writers and directors are reluctant to go down the studio road because they end up in development hell. Instead, we become a one-stop shop. It's just us. We can make it happen, and quickly."

Added Chaiken, "I saw a need (because) writers and directors were so frustrated with taking projects to studios."

Chaiken ("My Flesh and Blood") and Dungan raised the seed money for 72 Prods. from a collection of individual investors, mostly from the Bay Area. The rolling fund will be used to develop five to 10 films per year with production budgets in the $5 million-$25 million range.

Among the projects on 72 Prods.' slate are "The Perfect Hour," a period drama based on recently discovered Edith Wharton letters that revealed she was a virgin until her 40s, when she embarked on an affair in with a younger man; "Venom," based on Chris Krovatin's upcoming novel about a Manhattan teen who copes with adolescent angst by escaping into a comic book world of his imagination; "Minnow," penned by Josh Miller and Mark Fortin, which follows a woman haunted by her dead child's angry spirit; and "420," a comedy written by Dungan and Jesse Knight, which gets its name from a code word for pot.

Chaiken produced Thomas Bezucha's first feature "Big Eden" and the documentary feature "Naked States," which was named best documentary at the 2000 AFI Fest.

Dungan got his start in development at Paramount Pictures before seguing to Warner Bros. Pictures-based Witt-Thomas Films.
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