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Production News 15/1/99
14 Jan 1999 :

It's a slow enough start to the new year out there, with a lot of stuff being finalised and information hard enough to come by. O'Sullivan Productions have yet to start on the second series of Mystic Knights of Tir na nOg - it appears that they will first go into production on a feature film called Saint Patrick under the production company Sharpmist, using all the sets they've built for the 'Celtic Power Rangers' as well as many of the same crew. Definite schedules have yet to be confirmed, however.

Ballykissangel has returned to Ardmore studios for yet another series, while BBC NI are due to start shooting the second series of The Ambassador as I go to press.

Hot on the heels of their success with Southpaw, screening at the Sundance festival this month, Treasure films embark on their second project from the pen of Conor McPherson, writer of the hugely successful I Went Down. The Lime Tree Bower, concerning the strange goings-on in a rural pub and adapted from his own stage play, goes into production in February with Rob Walpole producing and McPherson directing. Meanwhile I Went Down director Paddy Breathnach is rumoured to be in negotiations to direct the new script by Full Monty writer Simon Beaufroy, which concerns a hair-dressing competition and will be shot in England.

Also returning to writing and directing chores for the first time since Guiltrip is Gerry Stembridge with All About Adam, due to start shooting in early March. Anna Devlin and Marina Hughes produce and funding is provided by BBC, Hal/Miramax and the Film Board. Rumour has it that the screenplay isn't a million miles removed from Stembridge's stage play The Gay Detective though I was unable to confirm this.

As for the big guns, Neil Jordan is due to begin work on an adaptation of Graham Greene's novel The End of the Affair in London, while, depending on who you listen to, Jim Sheridan is either in the early production stages of his semi-autobiographical feature New York Story or developing his Marianne Faithful bio-pic. Or maybe both…

The long delayed Veronica Guerin project, Though the Sky May Fall is set to roll with John MacKenzie in the director's chair, with the magnificent Joan Allen playing the doomed journalist and Patrick Bergin in support, while Mary McGuckian (Words Upon the Window Pane, This Is the Sea) is currently shooting Best, the George Best story in the Isle of Man. The hairy footballer is played by John Lynch, and word of mouth is promising. David Copperfield continues shooting in Ardmore and Angela's Ashes appears to have wrapped, with a release date scheduled for June.

After the success of his short, Zanzibar, Chris Roche looks set to roll on his Miramax Script Award Winner Dog Eat Dog, with Seamus Byrne in the production seat.

Indi films are putting the final post production touches to their Film Board "Real Time" project, provisionally titled "Making Ends Meet". Directed by Declan Recks from a script by Damien O'Donnell and Arnold Fanning, its expected to be ready for screening in March. The company are still buried in developing Kevin Liddy's feature debut, Country, with Jack Armstrong producing and with "90% of the problems sorted out" are hoping to start shooting in June.

Meanwhile, BBC Northern Ireland continue their good work with Raging Star Films producing Mary Queen Of Scots from a Jimmy McGovern (Cracker, Priest) script and a feature length version of Robert McLiam Wilson's novel Eureka Street ready to roll..

A number of interesting short films are about to get rolling also. Johnny O'Reilly directs The Terms, a 10 minute 35mm Arts Council funded project, adapted by author Mike McCormack from his own short story which appeared in his highly successful collection Getting It In the Head. Nicholas O'Neil/ Liquid Films produce, and it stars John O'Toole (Ryan's Daughter) and Eamonn Owens (The Butcher Boy).

Brendan Goff produces Underworld, a 26 minute Super 16mm script from the pen of Ronan Gallagher, who also co-wrote an early draft of the Veronica Guerin project mentioned above. Described by Goff as 'a crime heist goes wrong with a sting in the tail', the short will also be directed by Gallagher and the five day shoot starts in early March. And staying in the same vein, Dochy Lowe makes his writing/directing debut with Roadrunner (10 min / 35mm) in which "a robbery goes wrong in a small village outside Dublin during the Chinese New Year celebrations…" Sounds intriguing !

Nicky Fennell 15/1/99



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