Blythe Danner and Taissa Farmiga are also part of the film’s ensemble cast.
Unified’s Keith Kjarval (Inland Empire), Bill Holderman (A Walk In The Woods), Bona Fide Productions’ Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger (Little Miss Sunshine) and June Pictures’ Alex Saks and Andrew Duncan (Thoroughbred) are producing the indie, which is set to begin production Wednesday in Chicago.
The story centers on a woman (Swank) who must fly back to her hometown when her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother (Danner) wanders into a blizzard. The return home forces her to confront her past.
Chomko is an actress and playwright making her screen directorial debut with What They Had. Her script for the film was a recipient Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting.
“Elizabeth is an exceptionally talented new voice and we are excited to be partnering with her on her extraordinarily moving directorial debut,” said Unified’s Kjarval. “Hers is a very personal story about a subject that affects millions of people around the world.”
Unified Film Fund II is financing the venture. The fund is allowing Unified to produce three films a year with budgets up to $10 million. Ride, directed by Jeremy Unger and starring Bella Thorne and Jessie T. Usher, is the first film from the fund, with Look to the Sky and its topper Sefton Fincham partnering on each of the films.
WME Global is repping What They Had’s worldwide rights. ICM Partners is co-repping the rights.
Swank is executive producing along with the Fyzz Facility’s Wayne Godfrey and Robert Jones, as well as Levi Sheck and Mike Rowe of Interlock Capital.
Swank, repped by WME and Jackoway Tyerman, last starred as a pianist dealing with ALS in 2014’s You’re Not You. She will next be seen in Steven Soderbergh’s Logan Lucky.
Shannon, who was nominated for an Oscar for his work in last year’s Nocturnal Animals, recently wrapped the all-star war drama Horse Soldiers. He is repped by CAA, Wetzel Entertainment and Morris Yorn.