Nussbaumer joins Ventana

Ventana Films confirmed yesterday that Bernard Lucien Nussbaumer has come aboard as senior VP, with plans for the European writer-producer to take charge of developing foreign co-prods.

Headed by company president Arthur H. Gorson and Mexico City-based producer Julio Solorzano, Ventana also confirmed that it has entered into an agreement with producer Michael Deeley (“Blade Runner,””The Deer Hunter”) for the development and production of “Black Money,” an action-adventure set in Casablanca and other parts of Africa.

Gorson said Ventana acquired Gary Goldman Steel’s spec screenplay “Black Money” earlier this month, and contacted Deeley’s Leofilm Inc. to point the project toward production. Deeley will executive produce, with Gorson and Katherine Haber co-producing. The project is going out to directors next month.

“Our attention the last couple of years has been on smaller films,” Gorson said. “‘Black Gold’ is a very big, mainstream action-adventure movie–part of a conscious effort on our part to concentrate on films in that area.”

Meanwhile, Nussbaumer’s appointment underscores the Hollywood Hills-based company’s continued international expansion. A director of Films 777, which produced Swiss/French television product, he studied law at the University of Geneva and film in London.

In previous overseas action, Ventana represented the Mexico Film Institute on “Cabeza de Vaca” and partnered with Producciones Iguana on the coming release “The Cronos Device.” Gorson called the company’s experience with its Mexican associates “a positive relationship,” which has helped put Ventana on the map.

Nussbaumer’s arrival also adds two projects to Ventana’s development slate, including director Gian Pietro Calasso’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ short story “The Oasis” and “The Second Son,” which is an adaptation of Charles Sailor’s novel.

Nussbaumer is slated to produce “The Oasis,” and is currently penning the screenplay for “The Second Son.” Gorson said Ventana will package “The Oasis” at the Cannes Film Festival, while the first draft of “The Second Son” is expected within 60 days.

A third project has been added to Ventana’s slate. To be co-produced by KROQ reggae deejay Wayne Jobson and Gorson, “The Ingredient” is about a seductive component put into a soft drink, which leads to blockbuster sales and dangerous consequences. Gorson said “The Ingredient” is an open writer’s assignment.

Set in Jamaica, “The Ingredient” marks Gorson’s return to the atmospheric themes explored in the Gorson-produced “The Harder They Come,” while Jobson produced the Peter Tosh movie “Stepping Razor.”

As previously reported, Ventana has “Fire in the Mountain” set up at Hollywood Pictures, while “Tequila!” and screenwriter Michael Thomas’ “Isabel & Fidel” are still percolating.

Ventana’s partner Producciones Iguana assembled a solid crew in the backwoods of Mexico for “Cabeza de Vaca,” which was reunited for the 1992 production of “Cronos Device.”

“Cronos Device,” director Guillermo Del Toro’s fantasy about the quest for eternal life, was produced in Mexico City for under $ 3 million.

Produced by Producciones Iguana in association with Ventana Films, the “Cronos Device” budget worked out to “probably one-third” what it would cost to produce in Hollywood, Gorson said. Pic will be out to domestic and international distributors at Cannes.

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