July 25, 2011 9:48am PT by Eriq Gardner
Nick Cassavetes' New Film Imperiled By Lawsuit (Exclusive)
Director Nick Cassavetes and producers of the forthcoming indie film Yellow are being sued for allegedly breaching a loan agreement that not only included money but also promises related to casting and the film's soundtrack.
Twinspin Music, a small record label based in British Columbia, Canada, filed the lawsuit Friday claiming partial ownership of the in-development film. The company also wants injunctive relief to prevent the filmmakers from continuing to work on the movie.
According to the complaint, Twinspin provided a $300,000 bridge loan to the film's producers with the assurance that it would get $345,000 back no later than October 15, 2010.
But Twinspin only made such a loan, it says, upon representations that the film would feature its recording artists, Carmen & Camille, in speaking roles, that the movie would include one of their songs on the soundtrack, and that Twinspin head John Thomas would be given an executive producer credit.
Now Twinspin says it believes that producers "never had any intention of casting the aforesaid persons in the Picture, of featuring a song by 'Carmen & Camille' in the Picture, of providing the Executive Producer credit, or of repaying the Loan on a timely basis," according to the complaint.
The film about a young woman with a drug habit is set to star Sienna Miller, Lucy Punch, Hank Azaria and Melanie Griffith. It was co-written by Cassavetes, son of legendary film director John Cassavetes whose own films include The Notebook, Alpha Dog and John Q.
According to their bio, Carmen & Camille have charted singles in Canada and had several songs featured in MTV's The Hills.
Twinspin demands that the loan be repaid, plus it alleges punitive damages amounting to at least $500,000. In addition, the plaintiff is asserting an ownership interest in and lien on the proceeds of the film and seeks an injunction. Twinspin says it will suffer irreparable harm if production on the film continues without its agreement being honored.
Reached for comment, Cyrus Ahanchian, a defendant in the lawsuit who acted as a go-between agent between producers and investors, acknowledges that the plaintiffs might not have gotten all they had expected when making the deal. He tells us that the film ran into problems with funding and requirements for an Oklahoma production tax credit and that investors were under the gun to put up money without a clear idea of the budget.
Cassavetes couldn't be reached for comment.