In today’s film news roundup, UTA promotes agents Chelsea McKinnies and Emerson Davis, “A Deadly Legend’ finds a home and the Black Life Film Fest is unveiled.


United Talent Agency has promoted veteran agents Chelsea McKinnies and Emerson Davis to partner status.

“As champions of powerful and unique voices, Chelsea and Emerson have been integral to the growth and evolution of UTA,” said UTA co-president David Kramer. “It is essential our partnership is comprised of dynamic and deserving leaders, particularly as we strive for our company to better reflect the world in which we live. Chelsea and Emerson make us better as a whole and will provide leadership and inspiration to colleagues who have been underrepresented in our partnership. UTA is fortunate to have such esteemed colleagues to help lead us in these times.”

Davis is a 14-year UTA veteran and part of UTA’s Motion Picture Literary Group. Rising through the UTA mailroom, he was promoted to agent in 2010. His roster spans film and television, including Hiro Murai, Kogonada, Terence Nance, Shaka King, Gillian Robespierre and Justin Tipping; authors Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michael Chabon; producer Stephanie Allain; as well as multihyphenate artists Hebru Brantley and Tyler Mitchell. He’s worked closely with screenwriters Dave Callaham, Chris Bremner, Jonathan Herman, Ian Shorr, Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski.

An agent in UTA’s Talent department, McKinnies joined the company in 2015. She started her agency career in 2008 on the CAA reception desk in New York and went on to be promoted to agent in 2012. McKinnies represents Constance Wu, Tracee Ellis Ross, Amandla Stenberg, Cynthia Erivo, Anna Faris, Aidy Bryant, Martin Lawrence, Kiersey Clemons, Michael Che, Jemaine Clement, Jodie Turner-Smith, Phillipa Soo, Adriana Ugarte, Greta Lee and Yvonne Orji.


Gravitas Ventures has acquired Remcycle Media’s supernatural horror film “A Deadly Legend,” which will be available on digital and on demand on July 10.

The film stars Kristen Anne Ferraro, Corbin Bernsen, Lori Petty and Judd Hirsch and is directed by Pamela Moriarty in her feature directorial debut. Eric Wolf wrote and executive produced the film, and Kristen Anne Ferraro served as a producer.

The story centers on a real estate developer buying an old summer camp where the property has a dark history of supernatural worship and human sacrifice. A celebration weekend turns deadly when construction uncovers the mythical Stonehenge of America as deadly spirits are awakened and kill to gain control of this supernatural gateway.

Franklin Weinrib Rudell & Vassallo P.C. negotiated the film on behalf of the filmmakers. High Octane Pictures is serving as the film’s international sales agent.


Swirl Films and Mansa Productions have announced the launch of the Black Life Film Fest on Sept. 5, Variety has learned exclusively.

The festival will highlight short films with subject matter of the exploration of the beauty and complexities of “Black Life” and what that means to individuals and society. Documentaries, scripted dramas, comedies, interview compilations, animation and other genres will be accepted.

Projects will stream during the virtual festival on Sept. 5 on a number of platforms, including the MTANow mobile app, as well as Swirl Films’ Instagram Live, with additional virtual viewing options to follow. The top 10 filmmakers will receive $5,000 towards their journey into the film industry. Winners will also have the opportunity to meet with executives for potential distribution deals for their projects.

“It is important that we at Swirl Films and Mansa Productions do our part to both support and empower the Black film community here in Atlanta and around the country,” said Eric Tomosunas, Swirl Films’ CEO and founder. “In order to make the contest both impactful and meaningful, we deemed it important to allow young Black filmmakers to explore Black Life in any visual storytelling genre that they see fit.”

Swirl was founded in 2001 and produces the drama series “Saints & Sinners” and more than 60 original productions across various platforms and distributors, including BET, TV One, Bounce, Lifetime, Hallmark, Reel One, Netflix & Up TV.