EXCLUSIVE: Following in the footsteps of fellow ballers like Kobe Bryant (Kobe Studios), Lebron James (SpringHill Entertainment), and Stephen Curry (Unanimous Media), NBA All-Star and Dwight Howard is getting into the film business. The Washington Wizards center, via Mansa Productions, has come aboard as an executive producer of Percy, an anti-GMO indie film starring Oscar-winner Christopher Walken, Christina Ricci, and Zach Braff.
Grasshopper + Marks Productions (Brewmaster) has also signed on as exec producers of the film, which is being directed by Clark Johnson.
Written by Hilary Pryor and Garfield L. Miller, the plot follows a small-town Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser (Walken) who challenges a major conglomerate when the company’s genetically modified (GMO) canola is discovered in the 70-year-old farmer’s crop.
Additional cast includes Roberta Maxwell as Percy’s wife; Adam Beach as Percy’s neighbor, Alton Kelly; Luke Kirby as Percy’s son; Martin Donovan as the conglomerate’s lead lawyer, Rick Aarons; Peter Stebbings as anti-GMO activist Rebecca’s NGO boss.
Daniel Bekerman, Ian Dimerman, Brendon Sawatzky, Pryor, and Miller are producing the feature with previously attached exec producers Ethan Lazar, William Santor, Andrew Chang-Sang, and Kevin Hoiseth.
Mansa, an Atlanta-based production company founded by Kellon Akeem, aims to create opportunities for sports and entertainment talent to executive produce projects while giving the creators the extra funding they need to start or complete their work.
“When I read the script for Percy, I connected with it in a major way. I’ve always been passionate about farming. Most people don’t know that I own a farm outside of Atlanta. I understand the struggles of farmers, the connection to the land and its natural environment. Percy, as result, was a natural fit for my first film investment. This film is important especially with all the environmental issues we are currently facing.”
“In addition to executive producing the project,” Howard added, “I plan on doing as much as I possibly can in marketing this project once it premieres so that we can get our communities to go out and support this project.”
Howard, Akeem, and Yandy Smith will serve as exec producers for Mansa, alongside with Beata Gutman, Andy Marks, and Ryan Krivoshey of Grasshopper+Marks.
Grasshopper+Marks launched last year with an emphasizes on artistic, boundary-pushing filmmaking and stories that champion social change. The company is in development with Kartemquin Productions on Generation Food, a Raj Patel and Zak Piper-directed documentary that explores sustainable solutions to feed the world.