“La La Land” producer Fred Berger will produce Max Minghella’s directorial debut, “Teen Spirit,” alongside Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (“Midnight Special”) under their Automatik banner. The movie is being unveiled to international buyers at the upcoming Berlin Film Market by Mister Smith Entertainment.
Currently in pre-production, “Teen Spirit,” written and directed by Minghella, is “an emotional underdog story set in the world of pop-music, about growing up, dreaming big, and finding your voice,” according to a statement.
Jamie Bell (“Billy Elliot”), who developed the screenplay with Minghella, serves as executive producer.
Interscope Records, which is handling the chart-topping soundtrack on “La La Land,” will co-produce with Automatik, and will release the official soundtrack featuring contemporary pop anthems.
Berger brings his musical team from “La La Land” to the project, including music producer Marius DeVries (“Moulin Rouge”) and music supervisor Steven Gizicki, previously of Lucasfilm. Cinematographer Autumn Durald (“Palo Alto”), renowned for her work on music videos for Arcade Fire and Haim, will shoot the film.
The movie centers on Violet, a shy teenager living in Eastern Europe, who dreams of pop stardom as an escape from her small town and shattered family life. With the help of an unlikely mentor, Violet enters an international singing competition that will test her integrity, talent and ambition. Driven by a pop fueled soundtrack, “Teen Spirit” is “a visceral and stylish spin on the Cinderella story.”
Minghella stated: “’Teen Spirit’ is a celebration of the power that music can deliver to the cinematic experience. I’m thrilled to be working with the dream team of Interscope, Automatik and Mister Smith to share it with audiences.”
Berger added: “Max is a one of a kind talent with a profound understanding for how music and cinema can move people. He brings such an exciting voice and vision to this story, and I can’t wait to dive in with him and our incredible team.”
Mister Smith Entertainment CEO, David Garrett, commented: “This is such an upbeat story, and the combined talents of Max and Fred makes for an irresistible and compelling proposition.”
CAA is arranging financing for the film and represents its North American distribution rights.
Minghella made his screen-writing debut last year on the Miramax thriller, “The 9th Life of Louis Drax,” directed by Alexandre Aja, which he also produced via his shingle Blank Tape. As an actor, Minghella has worked with an array of top-tier filmmakers, including David Fincher (“The Social Network”), George Clooney (“The Ides of March”) and Stephen Gaghan (“Syriana”). Minghella will next be seen as Nick on the highly anticipated upcoming Hulu series, “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Berger produced “La La Land,” which recently garnered a historic seven Golden Globe wins and a record 14 Academy Award nominations, including a best picture nomination for Berger. The film has crossed $200 million worldwide, still early in its international release.
Berger also has Andre Ovredal’s “The Autopsy of Jane Doe” in worldwide release, and is in production on twice Oscar-nominated director Hany Abu-Assad’s “The Mountain Between Us,” starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba, for Chernin Entertainment and Fox 2000. Berger is also in pre-production on Reed Morano’s “I Think We’re Alone Now,” starring Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning. Berger began his career with Sofia Coppola on her features “Lost in Translation” and “Marie Antoinette.”