New Indie Producing Duo Says They Want to Be the Next Ron Howard/Brian Grazer

New Indie Producing Duo Says They Want to Be the Next Ron Howard/Brian Grazer

Are these the backstories of future indie moguls?

In the '90s, Gordon Bijelonic was a New York theater actor and Vin Diesel was staying on his couch. Diesel asked Bijelonic to produce his first film, "Strays," which debuted at Sundance 1997.

Meanwhile, Datari Turner got his break as a model for Bruce Weber's infamous Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs. After becoming the face of Sean John, Turner left modeling to pursue a career in creating reality television shows.

Bijelonic and Turner met in 1999 but it wasn't until recently that they worked together on a film, "Video Girl," which Turner wrote, produced and stars in opposite Meagan Good. It wasn't the kind of film that goes on the festival circuit; it received a very limited release this year.

And from this hodgepodge of humble beginnings, the duo has gone on to produce seven films in the last 18 months with a film in Sundance 2011 ("Another Happy Day") and again in 2012 with "LUV."

"It adds to the cachet," Bijelonic said. "Having two Sundance films back to back and having Vin's film in 1997, it's putting a message out there that we are getting behind quality scripts and we're able to attach quality actors at the same time."

Their ambition is palpable. "We read everything that gets sent to us," Bijelonic said.  

Turner added, "We're real producers. I can talk directors, actors, movies, for hours. When we met Sam Levinson [director of "Another Happy Day"], it turned into hours talking about Fellini and Truffaut and Kazan. In general, we really respond to material, we want to have that long relationship."

Bijelonic and Turner use some of their own capital along with help from varying configurations of a pool of investors to make these projects a reality.

In describing their joint venture, the two compared themselves to Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson as well as Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.  Bijelonic was quick to point out a few differences. For one, he said, "there's stories of Bruckheimer and Simpson racing their Ferraris down the backlot.  That's not us."  

Turner continued, "We like to have five productions going on at one time, all at different stages at production.  That helps us not get burned out."

Even so, it's hard to believe the two are not completely exhausted: "LUV" will premiere at Sundance 2012 and the duo has arranged a theatrical run for their film "Dysfunctional Friends." Their films "Cherry" (the James Franco-Heather Graham pornography drama) and the apocalyptic brunch film "It's a Disaster" are being pitched to premiere at film festivals; meanwhile, films from Neil Labute, John Stockwell, and York Shackleton will begin shooting in the spring.  

"What makes us work as producers," Bijelonic added, "is we're open to getting behind all kinds of films."

With the slate these two have amassed, it looks like these two might have films to talk about all year long.

Projects in the works:

debuting at Sundance 2012
Director: Sheldon Candis
Cast: Common, Michael Kenneth Williams, Danny Glover

"Dysfunctional Friends"
will be released in February
Director: Corey Grant
Cast: Stacey Dash, Reagan Gomez-Preston

Director: Stephen Elliot
Cast: James Franco, Heather Graham, Dev Patel

"It's a Disaster"
Director: Todd Berger
Cast: Julia Stiles, David Cross, America Ferrera

Neil Labute Project
Cast: Alice Eve

"Kid Cannibus"
Director: John Stockwell

"Pretty Perfect"
Director: York Shackleton

This Article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit


Uncle Tone

Aye D.T. aka "Wild Boy" Turner!!! Yo we proud of you down here in East Oakland! You alwayz been a trill dude since back in da day. Keep putting the Bay on the map ya heard!!!


Datari is soo fine!!! I recently saw Essence Magazine did a story on him. Didn't know that movie producers were this hot! *Gasps*

Anthony Sabia

Gordon, I wish you all the best, I know you got big things going on. Very Cool brother!


gordon is the man !!! im sure hell keep getting better and better, i know him on a personal note and know for sure he wont quit

S. Mac

i don't know Gordon but Datari is a man on a mission.


I wish the best to both of them!!!!!!!

Your Local Hostess

Two handsome men who tip well

Ms. Barkin

D. Turner is extremely talented. I've worked with him. He doesn't get the due for it because he's gorgeous and use to model


Gordon is the OG. Datari is the Visionary. They work well together


Good things happen to good people


Great article


I "Heart" Datari. Well deserved




I've had a chance to work with Datari. He's talented and a nice guy. My 2 cents

NYU Grad

Dreams are made to come true so dream big. Inspiring

Bay Area Wayne

Went to high school with Datari. This guy was always a star in the Bay Area before he even got to hollywood. One of the best High School football players I've ever seen no joke. Funny to see him now doing so well in a different field other then sports

Mike D

Love these guys.


Datari is soo fine. Good lord


Nice to see a new generation coming. Older producers eventually must pass the torch

Sally J

They're not at the Howard/Grazer level yet but they have come a long way in a very short amount of time and are apart of some really great projects. Good job fellas! Now hire me pleaze

The Untouchables

I met G through Datari. These guys are the truth! DT is from the streets of Oakland. If anybody messes with them then they got a problem with me. And that's a sure sign of a de*d man!


Love it! Go DT

Jill the PA

I've worked with them both and they are nice guys. Gordon has a bit of an ego but if he likes you your good. Datari actually recommended me for quite a few production jobs and is extremely talented. Wish them both the best. Jill the PA

Mall Cop

They are not Simpson or Bruckheimer yet or Grazer/Howard but if they stay the course the next 30 years they may be able to have that kind of success. It wont be easy those names are Icons but they're also twice the age of these guys. Datari is only 30yrs old I think & has 15 producer credits with AList stars. That's pretty commendable.

Big Mo

I grew up with Datari in Oakland, CA. The Yay Area aka Vietnam. He is a trill dude and come from a long family of OG's. He do a lot for his people and got his city on his back down here. Glad to his him live the dream! Salute!

The Hammer

Turner says "We're real producers". Ok and Pinnochio's a REAL boy. Watch out for these guys noses, they'll grow. To put it nicely models, you're guys are the new pseudo duo. The fact that they're referring to themselves as Bruckheimer & Simpson, but also other academy award winning moguls Brian Grazer & Ron Howard makes these kooks look like amateurs. This article is as useless as Turner & bijelonic themselves. Sounds like we are seeing another catchy headline to drive clicks! Cheers~

f.valentino morales

i love they work

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