EXCLUSIVE: Producer and publisher Jeffrey Sharp has teamed with writer/director and financier Jim Kohlberg to launch Story Mining & Supply Co, an LA-based production company that starts with development and overhead funding. They will acquire and develop for multiple platforms but especially features and TV. Kohlberg is chairman, Sharp president and CEO.
The company gets started with an acquisition of Kevin Powers’ National Book Award Finalist novel The Yellow Birds, with a deal for David Lowery to write and direct it. Lowery is coming off Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. On the TV side, the company is producing the Outlander series with exec producer/writer Ron Moore, based on the Diana Gabaldon novel. The Yellow Birds is informed by Powers’ experiences as an Army machine gunner in Iraq.
Sharp and Kohlberg have hired as production president Evan Hayes, who spent a decade at Working Title, most recently as senior vice president. Hayes is a producer on the Baltasar Kormaku-directed Everest at Working Title and was exec producer of Contraband and an exec on the films Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Senna and United 93.
Other projects they’ve acquired include adaptations of the Charles McCarry spy series that started with Tears Of Autumn, along with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Wallace Stegner book Angle Of Repose, and J. Robert Janes’ Mayhem.
Kohlberg is the chairman of the private equity firm Kohlberg & Company (he’s arranged the overhead and development funding to get things started) and he also directed the 2011 Sundance film The Music Never Stopped and wrote the novel The Golden Gate Is Red. So he’s far more than a money guy. The inspiration for the company name is Sharp’s great grandfather William W. Sharp’s Mill and Mine Supply Co, which helped build the rubber and tire industry in Akron in 1923.
Sharp, a founding partner in Hart Sharp Entertainment, produced Boys Don’t Cry, You Can Count on Me, Nicholas Nickleby and Proof, among others. He also founded with former HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman Open Road Integrated Media, the ebook publisher which has 4000 titles in its back list and will have a first look deal with the production company.
Sharp said he and Kohlberg met when the latter became an investor in Open Road and they began to discuss ways to turn meld the two businesses. It was Kohlberg who found Outlander when he read the novel during a bout of insomnia and optioned it first for features, but veered to TV when exec producer Moore came knocking.
Sharp will split time between the company’s Santa Monica headquarters and his home in New York, but will be in L.A. often as they get the operation up and running, as he and Kohlberg look to secure production financing.
“We have fairly deep pockets to hand craft films that we really care about, focusing on quality material,” Sharp told me.