Fort Worth screenwriter and producer Iver Jallah is quickly working his way into the Hollywood landscape. Last year, Jallah premiered a short series called Rich Africans on Amazon Prime Video, on which he served as a writer and executive producer. Following the series' success, Jallah is in the post-production stages of an upcoming film called Grand Isle, which he wrote, starring Kelsey Grammer and Oscar winner Nicolas Cage.
As a teenager, Jallah was a lover of literature. His affinity toward the classics grew into a love for theater and the performing arts. Jallah briefly studied at North Lake College’s film department and took courses under Dennis Bishop, who has produced series like Dexter, at KD Studio. However, Jallah is largely a self-taught filmmaker.
“Teaching myself gave me the hands-on experience that I needed,” Jallah says. Some of Jallah’s earlier projects include freelance music video directing for Dallas-based musicians, including Gael Boom.
After years of working in DFW, Jallah flew to Los Angeles, with two concepts in mind.
“One was a sitcom that I had, kind of like Curb Your Enthusiasm meets Coming to America,” Jallah says of the series that eventually became Rich Africans. “After I filmed it, and got it on Amazon, I started crowdfunding at the right parties and right networking events.”
A screenplay he had written in film school called Fancy Buddy and Mr. Walter caught the attention of producer Jeff Rice, known for his work on Lone Survivor and End of Watch.
“Jeff kind of took me under his wing,” Jallah recalls. “Six months later, we’re on set.”
With the help of writer and actor Rich Ronat, Jallah’s screenplay for Fancy Buddy and Mr. Walter became Grand Isle, which entered production in fall 2018.
“What’s funny is that I wrote that script as a dark comedy,” Jallah recalls, “but the producers told me that if I took out the comedic elements, it would be a really twisted tale. So I went with that idea. We went from dark comedy to suspenseful thriller-horror.”
The film, set to debut in theaters this fall, boasts an impressive cast featuring Luke Benward, Grammer and Cage as leads.
In Grand Isle, Cage plays Walter, an ex-Marine who lives with his wife in a Victorian home on a secluded island. After Walter destroys his fence while defending himself from a home invader, he hires Buddy (Benward) to fix his fence. The job is put on hold after a hurricane hits, forcing Buddy to stay in Walter’s home with his wife.
“It’s one of those films that makes you invest into what’s going on,” Jallah says. “You have to be patient in the beginning, because the plot thickens, like, every 10 minutes.”
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Grand Isle is in post production. Jallah has several other projects in the works, as well as other concepts he would like to bring to life. Jallah says he's happy working as an independent film producer and writer and is not itching to work for a major studio anytime soon.
“Hollywood can get pretty political,” he says. “I don’t ever want to have to cut a scene because it might offend somebody, especially if it’s a juicy scene. It’s a better controlled environment in the indie world. It’s more organic. I get to play by my own rules.”
While Jallah describes Grand Isle as a suspenseful thriller, he hopes to dabble in other genres in the future.
“I’m working my ass off,” Jallah says. “I am working on some action comedies and hopefully some heavy hitters.”