Hadeel Reda got more publicity than she had bargained for during the making of The Hottie And The Nottie, the first project from her Los Angeles-based production company Purple Pictures.
With Paris Hilton starring and executive producing, the project - also starring Joel David Moore and Christine Lakin, with Tom Putnam directing - has been hounded by Hollywood paparazzi and tracked by the celebrity websites that follow the socialite-actress's every move.
And inevitably, the Hilton mania has affected everyone associated with the production. "It's madness," Reda confirms. "I'll have a conversation with her and six hours later there'll be a picture of it online."
The hoopla certainly won't hurt the film, a romantic comedy (with a few gross-out moments) just released in North America by Regent Releasing and being sold internationally by Summit Entertainment. But it obscures the fact, Reda suggests, that Hottie, with an under-$7m budget financed through Media Rights Capital, is typical of Purple's no-nonsense operating style.
"It really is a back-to-basics way of independent producing, where you actually develop a script you like first and then you find the talent that fits it," explains the Purple president and CEO. "So it wasn't a vehicle for Paris Hilton. It was a script [by Heidi Ferrer] we fell in love with and developed." Hilton, she says, was simply "our most obvious choice for the hottie" when it came time to cast the title roles.
Reda founded Purple two and a half years ago, after a five-year stint as chief executive officer of Winchester Films, the Los Angeles division of the UK's Winchester Entertainment. With financial backing that allows it to greenlight projects before putting them out for pre-sales, Purple will make high-concept films for a youthful audience. And though she has no plans to launch her own sales or distribution arm, Reda, who started her career in development and then international distribution at Disney, says she wants to stay in touch with the international market by working with select foreign partners or doing some pre-sales herself. Attending markets and talking to buyers "gives you a good read on how the film will work internationally," she says.
Next up for the company will be Armageddagain, a genre parody to be released in the US by Sony Pictures and sold internationally by Odd Lot Entertainment. Reda is hoping to start shooting in Montreal before a possible US actors' strike.
Other high-priority projects this summer include Harv The Barbarian, a Python-esque comedy originally developed by Reda at Winchester that will now be financed with private equity and produced with Code Entertainment, and Jack Vs Future Jack, a comedy whose financing is currently being finalised. College horror tale The Fear, which Fox will distribute in the US, is also being prepared for a pre-strike start.
All Purple's projects, says Reda, will be made "in a budget range where nobody's going to be losing money. And then you bust a gut to make sure you get the most production value possible for your budget. It's really the only way you're going to make money for your investors, keep your distributors happy and gain the respect of talent, so you're not having to overpay all the time."