Indie filmmaker to direct 1st Independent pic

Filmmaker Dean Paras (“Hairshirt”) has committed to direct “Christmas With J.D.,” a coming-of-age picture from thesp turned scribe Sean Kanan.

Budgeted at $3 million, pic will be produced by Mendillo/Form partners Andrew Form and Tag Mendillo and Independent Management Group’s Steven Jensen.

“Christmas With J.D.” is Independent Management Group’s first producing effort, having opened its doors less than a year ago.

Pic centers on the son of a New York state politico who’s suffering an identity crisis he attempts to resolve by seeking inspiration from his favorite literary character, Holden Caulfield of J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye.”

On a quest to find himself, he runs away from stifling boarding-school surroundings, sparking a media blitz as trackers go in pursuit of the estranged teen.

Paras, who wrote, directed, starred in and produced “Hairshirt” (which premiered at this year’s Toronto Film Festival), financed his debut by soliciting coin from the pic’s cast, among them fellow Canadians Neve Campbell and brother Christian as well as actress Katie Wright.

As fest buzz heightened, prestige indie distribs began circling the pic, with Lions Gate’s genre arm, Avalanche Releasing, emerging as front-runner.

Paras, who also appeared in his own Canadian television series, “Liberty Street,” was repped on his “Christmas” deal by Baumgarten/Prophet’s Jessica Berlinski, and attorneys Stephen Breimer and Dave Feldman of Bloom, Hergott, Cook, Diemer and Klein.

Kanan, who has had regular roles on sudsers “General Hospital” and “Sunset Beach,” will take a small role in the film and a co-producer title. Kanan is repped by Jensen.

Form and Mendillo recently produced “Kissing a Fool,” starring David Schwimmer, and have wrapped “The Shrink Is In,” starring Courteney Cox and David Arquette.

Independent Management Group is a multipurpose outfit, providing talent and lit management and inhouse publicity for clients. Attorney Matthew Thompson negotiated the deal on their behalf.

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