LOS ANGELES – Gunpowder & Sky, the global content studio, announced today that it has partnered with Brightlight Pictures (White Noise, 50/50, Colossal) to produce Summer of ‘84, a horror-thriller film set in the early 1980s when times started to change, and the death of the suburban dream began. 

Featured on the 2016 Blood List, a list of the best screenplays in the ‘dark’ genres — horror, thriller, dark comedy, and science fiction — as voted on by industry professionals (previous entrants include Black SwanBuried and Chronicle)Summer of ‘84 follows a group of kids but is certainly not a kids’ movie. Co-produced and written by Matt Leslie, along with writing partner, Stephen J. Smith - the duo touted as being among “the top 100 writers on the verge” in Hollywood* - and directed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell of RKSS (Turbo Kid, “A fun satirical flashback to 1980s “Mad Max”**), the film explores the idea that every serial killer lives next door to someone. That chilling possibility is invigorating to 15-year old Davey Armstrong, who spends his summer investigating his police officer neighbor, Mr. Mackey, convinced he is the local serial killer all over the news. 

“How could we not bet on a writer associated with Straight Outta Compton and the directors of Turbo Kid to tell a twisted tale about a peaceful community where a serial killer threatens to shatter the suburban dream,” said Van Toffler, CEO and co-founder of Gunpowder & Sky. “It’s a bold, unexpected story told by breakthrough filmmakers, and it’s exactly the kind of novel film we want to make at Gunpowder & Sky.”

Growing up on a quiet cul-de-sac in Ipswich, Massachusetts, Davey’s desperate to believe there’s more to life than what he sees from his bedroom window. For him, every tabloid cover is a peek into the world as it really is, as it really must be past the borders of the humdrum neighborhood where he and his best friends Eats, Farraday and Woody have grown up. Sure they spend their summers playing nighttime flashlight tag (“Manhunt”), riding their BMX bikes all over town, and spying on the hot, sometimes topless chick next door, Nikki... but Davey thirsts for more. As their investigation heats up, Davey and his best buds soon discover Mr. Mackey is onto them and their suspicions quickly become all too real.

Summer of ‘84 taps into the curiosity we all had as kids about what goes on behind closed doors,” said co-writer Smith. Co-producer and co-writer Leslie added, “While writing, we tried to evoke the feeling of a genuine 80s film - but give it a contemporary twist. We hope audiences find Summer of ‘84 dangerous and haunting, as well as nostalgic and sincere.”

Added RKSS (Roadkill Superstar): “We were passionate about Summer of ’84 since the very first pitch. Our team fell in love with the script and felt like it was written just for us. There was no doubt in our mind that we needed to get attached to this amazing project and work with the talented writers who imagined it all.”

“Everyone at Brightlight Pictures is ecstatic to be working with the brilliant team at Gunpowder & Sky to bring Matt and Stephen’s bold and thrilling script to life,” said Shawn Williamson, CEO of Brightlight Pictures and who is producing with Jameson Parker. “As soon as I read the script I knew Brightlight had to be a part of this film, and who better to direct it than the masterminds behind Turbo Kid - Roadkill Superstar!"

Summer of ‘84 is set to go into production this July for an end of year release date.  

This new follows Gunpowder & Sky Distribution’s, the independent content sales and distribution division of Gunpowder & Sky, (formerly FilmBuff) release of the Herbalife exposé documentary, as well as Betting on Zero, the number one Documentary in the iTunes store since its release on April 7, and Little Boxes, which chronicles a multiracial family’s move to the suburbs. The company also recently debuted Ben Young’s Hounds of Love at SXSW and was part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and April Mullen’s Below Her Mouth, the story of an unexpected romance between two women whose passionate connection changes their lives forever.

The company will release Jeff Baena’s (I Heart HuckabeesThe Little Hours, starring Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Fred Armisen, Jemima Kirke and Nick Offerman, this summer in North America and key international territories, and is currently representing multiple series from Verizon’s go90 originals slate.

*2016 Young & Hungry List



Gunpowder & Sky is a global studio dedicated to creating, marketing and distributing video content independent of form, genre or platform. Gunpowder & Sky collaborates with both emerging and established talent to generate premium video content ranging from 90-second to 90-minute stories on various platforms. With in-house development, production, marketing and distribution capabilities, the company operates as a full 360-studio and oversees a library of over 1500 titles.

Gunpowder & Sky Distribution (formerly Filmbuff) is the New York-based, award-winning, independent content sales and distribution division of Gunpowder & Sky. Antigravity is the company’s recently announced creative agency and marketing arm.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Gunpowder & Sky was founded by Van Toffler, former CEO of Viacom’s Music Group, Floris Bauer, former Global Head of Corporate Development & Strategy of Endemol, and Otter Media, a joint venture of AT&T and The Chernin Group.


Brightlight Pictures develops, packages and produces independent feature films and television projects. Brightlight's President, Shawn Williamson, has produced more than 100 productions in the last 15 years and over 60 productions since launching Brightlight in 2001 including WHITE NOISE (Michael Keaton), 50/50 (Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and THE COMPANY YOU KEEP (Robert Redford).


RKSS (short for Roadkill Superstar) is the writer-director tri-force formed by François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoann-Karl Whissell. Together, they have created more than 20 short films over the past 12 years and unlike most first-time feature filmmakers, they already had an established global fan base when they wrote and directed their debut feature—the critically acclaimed Turbo Kid. Following its world premiere at Sundance in 2015, Turbo Kid has had a very successful festival run, winning 24 awards worldwide, including the SXSW’s Audience Midnighters Award, BiFan’s Best Directors, Sitges’ Carnet Jove for Best Feature and Best Original Soundtrack, as well as a Saturn Award for Best International Film. Now released on all major territories and VOD platforms, Turbo Kid has reached a wide array of audiences, touching the hearts of all generations far beyond the genre and cult fans. Shortly after their appearance at Sundance, RKSS signed to write and direct the feature adaptation of the Humanoids comic book entitled The Z Word by Jerry Frissen (Metabarons) and Guy Davis (Hellboy). They are currently having several exciting projects in development, amongst which the much-anticipated sequel to Turbo Kid.


Summer of ‘84 Producer & Co-Writer Matt Leslie previously worked as a development executive for Producer Scott Bernstein where he helped develop the script for the 2015 box office hit Straight Outta Compton, while Co-Writer Stephen J. Smith previously worked in the marketing departments of MGM and New Line, writing copy for DVD/Blu-ray packaging and release materials. Appearing on the 2016 Young & Hungry List, which highlights “the top 100 writers on the verge” in Hollywood, the duo’s most recent spec, a supernatural thriller entitled The Harrowing, was featured on the 2016 Hit List. They are currently developing a TV series with Ritchie-Wigram Pictures. Summer of ‘84 appeared on the 2016 Blood List.