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'Zoo' - a Ripple World Pictures & Wee Buns Co-Production - to Film in Ireland
05 Nov 2013 : By Kevin Cronin
Colin McIvor, writer & director of 'Zoo', will shoot the film in Ireland in summer 2014.
'Zoo' - a family movie inspired by the true story of a Northern Irish woman who rescued a baby elephant from being put down during World War II - is in development and scheduled to shoot from late summer 2014 in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Ontario, Canada.

The movie is being co-developed and co-produced by Dublin’s Ripple World Pictures and Belfast-based Wee Buns with development support from the Irish Film Board, Northern Ireland Screen and the BFI.

Colin McIvor, whose debut feature ‘Cup Cake’ won the Audience Award at the Belfast Film Festival in 2010, wrote the original screenplay and will direct the feature that will be produced by Katy Jackson and John Leslie for Wee Buns and Jacqueline Kerrin and Dominic Wright for Ripple World Pictures.

The true story that inspired the film was that of Northern Irish zoo keeper Denise Austin who saved a baby elephant named Sheila from being shot during World War II at a time when many animals were killed out of fear they might escape during air raid bombings.

Ms Austin kept the elephant in the back garden of her home in North Belfast and later came to be known as ‘the elephant angel’ in local media.

Katy Jackson has said that the movie will adopt a slightly different approach than the true story as it is from the point of view of three children who rescue the elephant and hide it from the authorities with the help of an initially reluctant older lady.

Casting for the film is underway with the first round of children’s casting by casting director Louise Kiely (‘What Richard Did’, ‘Parked’) concluding last week, 31st October.

Producer Jacqueline Kerrin told IFTN that after a worldwide search, an elephant calf from Ontario, Canada was ‘cast’ in September significantly reducing the amount of VFX needed.

Further details on Irish locations, North and South, are soon to be confirmed.

Ripple World Pictures is best known here for producing ‘Parked’, which was nominated for four IFTA awards in 2011, and this year’s sci-fi adventure ‘Earthbound’, starring Rafe Spall (‘I Give It A Year’, ‘Life of Pi’) and David Morrissey (The Governor in ‘The Walking Dead’)

Further information on Ripple World Pictures can be found in IFTN’s listings page here.


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