'Lush' first project on slate for prod'n company

Filmmakers David Siegel and Scott McGehee, who wrote and directed the 1993 indie “Suture,” have teamed with tyro producers Rob Nathan and Eileen Jones to establish San Francisco-based indie production-finance banner, i5.

The banner’s first film, “Lush,” will mark the directing debut of Mark Gibson, who also penned the screenplay.

Pat Dollard (whose Independent Artists management banner reps such filmmakers as Steven Soderbergh, Agnieszka Holland, Greg Mottolla as well as Siegel & McGehee) will produce the under-$5 million “Lush,” a darkly comic tale of a failed semi-pro golfer’s ignoble return to his home town of New Orleans.

Part of ‘In Crowd’

Gibson previously co-wrote with Phillip Halprin “The Big Break,” which was picked up by Disney, and “The In Crowd,” which Morgan Creek is expected to put before the cameras in April under John Raffo’s helm. Gibson is repped by the William Morris Agency’s Ramses IsHak and Michael Sheresky and managed by Gina Matthews of Roundtable Inc.

According to the principals, i5 is intended as a showcase for new writers, directors and thesps and will produce and finance films budgeted below $5 million. The company is keeping mum about the actual source of its financing, which Dollard told Daily Variety stems from a private real estate investment group, which Nathan, an attorney, brought to i5.

While the other principals are based in San Francisco, Jones will oversee the banner’s development out of a Los Angeles office — the two offices are connected geographically by Interstate 5, thus the origin of the company’s appellation.

The upstart banner also intends to begin production later this year on “The Deep End,” which Siegel & McGehee are writing and will direct as they had done with their debut feature “Suture.”

Prize winner

“Suture,” a black-and-white film about amnesia and mistaken identity, earned a jury prize at the 1993 Toronto film fest, the cinematography award at the 1994 Sundance fest and was picked up for worldwide distribution by the Samuel Goldwyn Co.

In addition to Dollard, Siegel & McGehee are repped by ICM’s Chris Andrews.

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