Feature film project ‘Easter Sixteen’ about the 1916 Easter Uprising in Dublin has been optioned by UK financier Peter Lukas who will produce along with co-author of the award-winning screenplay Brendan Foley (Johnny Was, The Riddle) under the new title of ‘Easter Rising’.
It is understood Peter and Brendan will be working with veteran Dublin-based producer Ned Dowd (executive producer, King Arthur, Veronica Guerin, Apocalypto) and Danish producer Lars Hermann (The Riddle). American production company Coll-Abbitt has also expressed its intention to join the project which will be re-titled ‘Easter Rising’.
Former production company Marathon Pictures did not meet a planned option payment on the script in May so the new funder stepped in. A recent statement from the company said that: ”The decision to take the project elsewhere was fought by Marathon Pictures' LA particularly in the light of recent and ongoing cast attachment to the project. Marathon Pictures' LA is saddened by this decision and wishes the new Producers well with the project.”
Irish actor turned director Jason Barry, best known for his role in James Cameron's ‘Titanic’, confirmed that Marathon, his film partnership with Nicola Charles was now being wound up and each were pursing independent projects, with his own major focus continuing to be ‘Easter Rising’. The director confirmed his ongoing attachment to the project: "While I'm sad that Marathon did not manage to get the film away, I'm really delighted to be part of the project as it moves forward.” He tells us. “It remains one of the best scripts I've ever read and with the new producing and financial support it will make a great film."
Belfast born Writer-Producer Brendan Foley has seen his script for ‘Easter Rising’ co-written with Shelly Goldstein (JoJo’s Circus) win prizes in the Final Draft and Australian International script awards.
As to the new production approach of the feature and its casting Brendan explains that a plan is in place: "The new producers will be concentrating exclusively on funding for the next few months and are delighted about the initial enthusiasm for our involvement from Ireland and the United States.”
He tells IFTN: “We believe in talking to cast after the funding is all in place. We are happy to talk to those who previously expressed interest and are also open to new suggestions, but will not be making any further announcements or public trumpeting until funds, cast and crew are all in place."
Asked if there might be any change of creative direction by the new producers along with the change of title, Foley confirmed that the story would remain true to the events without glorifying or demonising those involved on either side. “One thing I personally hope to do is to have the greatest possible involvement of Irish talent, from north and south, within this international project. Our core audience is the 88-million worldwide Irish Diaspora, and the heart of the film is in the volatile Ireland of 1916 which for better or worse shaped all our lives.”
Financier Peter Lukas has international interests in property, information technology, farming and mining as well as film. It is understood that Lukas is also in the process of acquiring rights to Foley's Great Escape drama, ‘Under the Wire’. It is not yet known when ‘Easter Rising’ will go into production.