‘The Birth of a Nation’: How Nate Parker Produced His Controversial Slave-Revolt Drama

Money came from producers, businessmen and even professional athletes.
'The Birth of a Nation': How Nate Parker Made His Controversial Film
"The Birth of a Nation"

It’s well known at this point that Nate Parker’s “The Birth of a Nation” was bought for a record-setting $17.5 million at Sundance this year, just as it’s well known that the writer/director/star — and by extension the film itself — is now mired in controversy. Less well known until now is how “The Birth of a Nation” was financed in the first place. The Hollywood Reporter broke down the $10 million that went into the project earlier this year, noting that Parker put $100,000 of his own money into it.

READ MORE: Nate Parker Says He Was ‘Vindicated’ in 1999 Rape Trial, Won’t Apologize

A dozen or so other sources backed him. Parker, Jason Michael Berman of Mandalay Pictures and Kevin Turen are responsible for tracking down approximately 60 percent of the film’s funding, with most of the rest coming from Aaron L. Gilbert of Bron Studios. Filmmaker Edward Zwick (who recently moderated a Q&A at an AFI screening of “Birth”) and screenwriter David Goyer (“Dark City,” “The Dark Knight,” “Man of Steel”) are perhaps the best-known contributors from the film industry; Zwick, who’s directed such movies as “The Last Samurai” and “Blood Diamond,” won an Academy Award for producing “Shakespeare in Love” and was nominated again two years later for “Traffic.”

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Tony Parker and Michael Finley (who also produced Lee Daniels’ “The Butler”) of the NBA likewise stepped in as financiers on Parker’s film, as did former NFL linebacker Derrick Brooks. “The Birth of a Nation” marks the first production of Argent Pictures, which is headed by Ryan and Jill Ahrens along with Ben Renzo; elsewhere in the business world, Parker secured funding from Michael Novogratz, Mark Moran, Jane Oster, Jason Cloth and Barb Lee, among others. Read the full THR story here.

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