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Walter Hamada Launches 18hz Productions, Executive Who Oversaw ‘Smile’ Among Key Hires (Exclusive)



Former DC Films head Walter Hamada has kicked off the new year with the launch of his new production banner, 18hz Productions, and is making key hires.

Nathan Samdahl, the former Paramount executive who was instrumental in making the horror hit Smilewill act as the company’s senior vp, while Nick Romano has been tapped as creative executive.

Hamada transitioned to the world of producing late last year after more than 15 years in the studio trenches of Warner Bros. and New Line, overseeing the making of horror and superhero movies such as It and Aquaman. In November, his fledgling company signed an exclusive, multi-year production deal with Paramount to spearhead the studio’s mainstream horror movies. It has the goal of releasing several low-to mid-budget films per year across theatrical and streaming.

The company’s name reflects the focus on horror. 18hz is known as the ghost frequency as it falls just beyond the range of human hearing, which is 20hz and above, but has been proven to provoke a feeling of fear and paranoia. Those in the paranormal community consider 18hz to be the sound of fear itself.

For Samdahl, the hiring at Paramount-based 18hz is a homecoming of sorts. The Sydney, Australia-born exec spent years at Paramount, first at Paramount Insurge, the lower budgeted genre division where he worked on films including 10 Cloverfield Lane; and then Paramount Pictures, notching up movies such as A Quiet Place, Overlord and Alex Garland’s Annihilation on his resume; and finally Paramount Players, where he was vp, development and production.

While at Players, Samdahl discovered and bought Smile, the creepy horror project from Parker Finn, and oversaw its making. But in a woeful turn of events, layoffs at the studio last spring saw the executive exit the Melrose lot. The movie, meanwhile, was released theatrically half a year later, after initially being bound for streaming, and became a bonafide hit. It grossed more than $216 million worldwide on a $17 million budget, and was one of the most profitable movies of the year.

Keeping on the “sort of homecoming” theme, Romano joins Hamada from New Line, where he worked as a CE for execs Nikki Ramey and Celia Khong. He began his career in 2018 at ICM Partners in the mailroom before landing as a Motion Picture Literary Assistant to Bryan Diperstein and Harley Copen. The Queens-born exec graduated from Brooklyn College with a BA in screenwriting. During his time there, he completed 10 internships including at A24, Bleecker Street and Dimension Films.

“Nathan’s work on hit genre movies like Paramount’s Smile, 10 Cloverfield Lane and A Quiet Place as well as his extensive filmmaker relationships make him the perfect addition to the team. I’m lucky the stars aligned and I was able to get him,” said Hamada in a statement. “Nick is a true horror fan and his passion for the genre is contagious. Together they will be instrumental in making 18hz the home for horror.”

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