EXCLUSIVE: Leslie Small has been set to direct the buddy comedy Happy V-Day and actioner The Raid, under a two-picture deal with Winter State Entertainment. Prep on both titles is underway, with production dates to be set upon the resolution of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.
The deal speaks to the move back into narrative features that Winter State has undertaken, after pivoting to docs during the pandemic.
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Written by Winter State principals Hamid and Camille Torabpour, Happy V-Day tells the story of two best friends who look to get vasectomies, at the behest of their wives, together confronting the horrors of “the snip.”
In the modern-day Western The Raid, news of Jesse James’ legendary treasure being found spreads quickly. In grand fashion, the treasure will be returned and displayed during the Jesse James Days festival in Northfield, MN. However, Austin and his bandits have other plans, making off with it after staging a bank robbery. Sheriff Tom and Madeline, his daughter, and the town’s lead detective then get caught up in the deadly pursuit that follows the twists and turns of the legend of Jesse James. Hamid Torabpour teamed with Jon Arjes to script this title from a story by Vern Swedin.
In addition to Small, producers on both films will include Hamid and Camille Torabpour, Peter Wise, Nick Hagen, Dr. Mark Smith and Winter State Entertainment.
Said Hamid Torabpour, “The Raid is a throwback to 90s movies like The Fugitive, Face/Off and The Rock! A fun movie that allows you to escape for 2 hours! We are excited to see Leslie bring his voice and vision to this project. And with “Happy V-Day”, Leslie is a no brainer! Having worked with many of the greatest comedians in the business, he can deliver comedy like very few can.”
Remarked producer Wise, “Having previously worked with Leslie on Kevin Hart’s “Let Me Explain”, I knew he was the right person for these next projects. His knack for comedy, through his many comedy specials experience, makes him a great choice for “Happy V-Day”. While he is known and respected for his work in comedy, we’re confident his drive and intellect will deliver an excellent action heist film The Raid.”
“I am excited to team up with Peter, Hamid and Camille on these two films,” added Small. “Our synergy is so magnetic, that our films will galvanize the attention of viewers across the globe. Let’s go!”
Known for his direction of Kevin Hart’s comedy specials, as well as his talk show Hart to Heart, Small’s credits also include Real Husbands of Hollywood, Netflix’s Holiday Rush and Undercover Brother 2.
Past projects from Winter State on the narrative side include the Vans Warped Tour pic Summertime Dropouts, as well as the football drama Under the Stadium Lights, with Laurence Fishburne and Milo Gibson. Among the company’s other upcoming projects are documentaries on Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Roaf (ROAF), MLB icons Jim “Kitty” Kaat (Kitty to Cooperstown) and Tommy John (Tommy John: The Bionic Man), Pittsburgh Steeler Mel Blount (Mel Blount: Whatever It Takes), and boxer Tommy Hearns (The Hitman: A Tommy Hearns Story).
Small is represented by Independent Artist Group. The Torabpours are repped by Karen Gottlieb at Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks.
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