Editor Zach Kashkett of bicoastal Union caps a string of notable longform projects with his directorial debut, THE MAD WRITER, a 70-minute documentary feature about rising hip-hop phenom L’Orange (given name Austin Hart) that had its premiere January 20 at Slamdance Film Festival 2023. A flurry of coverage and acclaim has followed with Film Threat saying, “The Mad Writer will steel toe you in the heartstrings. It is the Brian’s Song of hip hop.” Michael Talbot-Haynes goes on to say, “If cynicism could be compressed into a diamond, it would glitter as The Mad Writer does. L’Orange’s instant contrariness makes the sympathy Kashkett develops for him all the more impressive.”

Kashkett’s close friendship with Hart allowed him access to the reclusive artist as he discovers mysterious tumors in his ear canals, and the film takes us on his journey of fear of the unknown and what this could mean to him as a musician. We see L'Orange struggle with depression and anxiety as he undergoes several surgeries that threaten both his hearing and his career in music. 

The film screened in the competition category at Slamdance 2023. Zach Kashkett - whose longform credits at Union include SHAWN MENDES: IN WONDER (Netflix), SINS OF OUR MOTHER (Netflix), and ALWAYS JANE (Amazon) - wrote, directed, produced, and edited THE MAD WRITER. For Kashkett, this film bridges his work as an editor for branded and longform with his voice as a director. “I have grown so much here at Union,” said Kashkett, “and to have this family produce my first feature film is beyond gratifying. It speaks to the future of our work together, and my output as a filmmaker."

Trevor Metscher (THE ORIGINALS, THE ACCOUNTANT) served as Director of Photography on THE MAD WRITER, which is produced by Union Partner James Haygood (editor of FIGHT CLUB, PANIC ROOM, TRON: LEGACY, and legendary Super Bowl ads such as VW “The Force”), Katherine LeBlond (SELENA GOMEZ: MY MIND AND ME, JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUE, PROPHET’S PREY), and Jon Webb of Westbrook Ent (THE NEW ADULT), as well as Kashkett and Metscher. Executive producers are Michael Tolle (Founder of Mello Music Group), Union Partner/Managing Director Michael Raimondi (A BEAUTIFUL CURSE, ARCTIC, ALWAYS JANE), and Union Editorial, LLC.

Additional Reviews

The Mad Writer is an incredibly made documentary that is filled with heart, love and redemption.” -- Music City Drive-In

“Striking and personal...Kashkett demonstrates a deep understanding of his subject, capturing the vulnerable and raw moments with a piece of profound knowledge and sensitive touch.” -- Overly Honest Movie Reviews

“The director manages the tricky task of showing how disease winds up shaping L’Orange’s personality rather than defining it outright.” -- Beyond Chron

Originally from Maryland, Kashkett attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he studied editing and sound design. Since moving to Los Angeles, he has worked in commercial, music video, documentary, and scripted narrative films at Union Editorial, LLC. 

Slamdance is celebrating twenty-nine years of indie films with its return to in-person after three years. THE MAD WRITER is one of nine feature documentaries and only one of two music documentaries. The film festival took place in-person in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah January 20-26. It also screened virtually on the Slamdance Channel January 23-29. 

 About Union
Union Editorial has offices located in Los Angeles, New York, Austin, and London, where it maintains an alliance with Marshall Street Editors. The company also develops and produces original content. Other Union companies include Hunter, which provides finishing services, vfx, graphics and mix for commercials, features and gaming. Union is presided over by Partner/Managing Director Michael Raimondi alongside Executive Producer Joe Ross and Head of Production Dani DuHadway in LA, Partner/Managing Director Caryn Maclean alongside Executive Producer Melissa Lubin in NY, Executive Producer Vicki Russell in Austin, and Logan Aries, Executive Producer of Hunter. The Union roster is comprised of Partner/Editors Jim Haygood, Einar Thorsteinsson, Jay Friedkin, Sloane Klevin, Marco Perez, Merritt Duff, Graham Turner, and Chris Huth, editors Daniel Luna, Laura Milstein, Jason Lucas, Karen Kourtessis, Kevin Ray, Rachael Connelly, Zach Kashkett, Andrea MacArthur, Amanda Perry, Justin “Q” Quagliata, Vinnie Hobbs, and Rick Lawley, as well as select projects with Guicho Flores, Teddy Gersten, Tim Thornton-Allan, Matt Chesse, John Mayes, Spencer Ferszt, Paul Plew and the Marshall Street roster.