With two major US productions set to film in NI this year, Northern Ireland Screen are focusing on bringing local talent and productions to this year’s Cannes Film Festival revealing five new home-grown productions in the works.
The screen agency’s profile is currently at an all-time high amongst the global film-making community. Buoyed by last year’s success at the festival with the Camera d’Or-winning ‘Hunger’, followed by positive news back home with two American productions filming there this year (Universal is currently in prep for a July start of pp on ‘Your Highness’, to be followed in the 3rd quarter of the year with a TV pilot from HBO entitled ‘A Game of Thrones’), the executives are concentrating this year on pushing home-grown product and talent.
Several films funded by Northern Ireland Screen and filmed in Northern Ireland are being sold in the market: among them are; ‘Cherrybomb’, from NI-resident production outfit Generator Entertainment headed up by Mark Huffam and Simon Bosanquet which premiered in section at Berlin this year; ‘Fifty Dead Men Walking’, which prompted a bidding war for UK rights at last year’s Toronto festival; the critically acclaimed ‘Five Minutes of Heaven’, starring Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt, which has just secured US distribution through IFC and family film ‘The Race’.
Head of Production Andrew Reid and Head of Marketing Moyra Lock are particularly excited about their slate of films in development, which they believe is probably the strongest yet. So as well as meeting with several high-profile production companies who are beginning to understand the lure of Northern Ireland as a global production centre, the two have lined up some serious meetings with sales agents and distributors with the intent of getting at least one of these development films into production.
These titles include:
‘Paddy Mayne’ – an action drama penned by Richard Crawford (The Abduction Club) and produced by Alistair Maclean-Clark (The War Bride; Octane; Heartbreak Hotel; Arn) with the director still to be confirmed. Set in the years after the end of the Second World War, the film follows Blair ‘Paddy” Mayne who is still troubled by memories of what he endured as the iron-willed commander of Britain’s Special Air Service Regiment. Caught in a downward spiral of dull provincial life and alcohol, his routine is interrupted by the arrival of Laura, a young woman commissioned to write a history of the Regiment. Over the space of five days, he gradually reveals the truth of what happened to him and his men in North Africa, Italy, France and Germany. Laura finally understands that the real truth of war lies not in facts and figures but in the agony in a man’s soul.
In ‘Teenage Kicks’ - a group of teenagers gather in an isolated warehouse for a party. In an argument that gets out of control, one of them is killed. The friends turn on each other and the body count starts to rise. The film is produced by Michael Kelly, Pete Foott is directing with Spence Wright (Red Mist) and John Cairns screenwriting.
The black comedy drama ‘Jump’ – is a set on one fateful New Year’s Eve when eight friends find themselves amid tequila and murder. ‘Jump’ is the creation of ‘Raw’ writer Lisa McGee with Brendan Byrne on board to produce and director Kieron J. Walsh (When Brendan Met Trudy).
Director Tom Collins (Kings) is planning the adaptation of ‘Reading in the Dark’ - based on Seamus Deane’s award winning novel. The drama follows a working-class boy growing up in the Bogside in Derry. Eager to unravel the mystery surrounding his Uncle Eddie and make sense of his family’s past, Seamus begins to peel back the layers of secrets and lies and unearth the truth. Through his transition from adolescence to adult consciousness the real story emerges – of deep dark secrets, misinformation and an unspeakable betrayal. The screen adaptation is by Ronan Bennett (Public Enemies; Face; Lucky Break).
‘Parabellum’ produced by Colin Lewis and Simon Lewis with Gary McKendry directing and writing along with Colum McCann is set in the aftermath of the Irish treaty. Two anti-treaty fighters – one, a young idealistic gun smuggler and the other, a hardened old rebel – escape from a prison ship and start on a treacherous journey to rejoin the civil war. Running into a patrol, they kill a policeman and take another hostage. As the three men travel across country, it becomes increasingly clear that the policeman is helping them evade recapture. And by the time they near their destination, the old rebel and the policeman are engaged in a battle far more dangerous than the civil war.
The Northern Ireland Screen Cannes office will be based at:
14 Place Marché du Forville
(off Rue Louis Blanc, 5 mins’ walk from the Palais)
Tel: +33 4 93 99 43 02
The office will be open daily:
Wednesday 13th May to Thursday 21st May
10am-12 noon and 3pm-5pm