On the second day of the Frontières market, still determined to cover everything that I could which involved potential new projects I went to the International Spotlight: Speed Pitch Session. Had I paid a bit more attention to the details of how this session was going to work I probably would not have entered the room and had such a look of alarm on my face. Thankfully ScreenAnarchy lord and master Todd Brown and Frontiers director Lindsay Peters quickly explained to me how it worked.
There were six tables set up for the six projects, three from Australia and three from South Africa. Each table has a representative from the project and a mediator, four of whom I thankfully knew from the festival circuit already. You get 15 minutes at each table. The project representatives would show a sizzle reel, read a synopsis and/or give details about their project. The next ten minutes were open to the table to discuss what partnerships they were looking for - the big four are always co-production, distribution, sales, finance - and where would they be willing to go to help make it happen.
As I have no means by which to help any of these projects in those big four I am just here to make the news, baby. Turns out though that I really like this format and appreciated being able to directly ask questions outside of the normal big four, about the story, the culture surrounding it and even practical things like will the fx be done in camera.
Corpsmen - I started here because Todd was mediating this table. Producer John Volmink showed us a sizzle reel first to give us an idea of what the project would be about. Corpsmen would be a horror flick which tells the story of a military unit sent into an uninhabited region of Somalia to extract a kidnapped aid worker. They will stumble upon an ancient evil, ‘a supernatural enemy that defies their technology, training, and firepower.
Peter Phok from Glass Eye Pix is already on board as a producer. Brett Simmons, a director with ties to Glass Eye Pix and Chiller Films, wrote the screenplay and is attached to direct.
My Dark Heart - A little comfortable with the format now I started to perk up about the creative side of each project after letting the big four questions be discussed. My Dark Heart would be set in the US but shot in South Africa.
It is a ‘very dark love story with themes of demonic possession’. A woman has a demon incubating inside her and it forms a dependant relationship, it pushes her to do evil deeds, and her real life relationship will suffer.
Director James Adey would make his feature film debut with this film. His experience to now has been as a DoP.
Durban Road - I really started to catch my groove when I got to my third table, Matthew Griffith’s serial killer flick Durban Road. In his film a social media editor tracks down the Durban Road Killer when she discovers that they have returned five years later to finish the job. Her. Still carrying the scars from that vicious attack she has to work against a patriarchal society and convince a young detective to help her stop this killer.
I really perked up with this one for a couple of reasons. First of all Durban the city. I know there is a film festival in held there every year and our fearless leader goes their annually to bestow his wisdom upon that film community. I also understand that like any other city your safety can change from one street to the next. Would that be in the picture?
Second, the killer wears a crow mask. Now, I’ve been going nuts over South African authors this past year so I started asking about the crows and their meaning which got us talking about Charlie Human’s Apocalypse Now Now and Kill Baxter and role of crows there, and Lauren Beukes Zoo City and white magic because Griffith said something else that perked my ears.
Kate Kelly - Famed Australian outlaw/hero Ned Kelly had a sister and Australian filmmaker Donna McRae wants to make a movie about her and lift her above the status of being merely a footnote in her brother’s history.
The movie will follow Kate as she flees into the bush for two weeks after the hanging of Ned. She will be running away from her past and her family name. She has a price on her head but if she can make it over to the next territory she may be able to escape.
McRae described the film as a western with ghosts, a reimagining or a reinvention of a woman who has been a footnote in history. Her influences run along the lines of Dead Man, Meek’s Cutoff and Walkabout. Audiences should expect long takes and a lot of the Australian landscape too.
It also does not hurt that her executive producer is one of ScreenAnarchy’s longest friends in the industry, Stephanie Trepanier.
Lucid - “When an introverted dream programmer discovers he is trapped in a client’s dream, he must find a way out and save the women he secretly loves”.
Think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets The Matrix.
Brandon Cronenberg, Son of Cronenberg, is on board as a Creative Producer for this project. The script by Philip Tarl Denson carries a lot of influence from Philip K Dick and tap into interest built up from past films like Ex Machina. It will explore the nuances of genre.
There is no director attached to the project yet but perusing the list I saw that each and every one of them have handled high concept, relational film. And depending on where the director comes from the production is looking for CoPro in the UK, Canada or elsewhere in Europe.
Nightflower - And finally, I found myself the luckiest boy in the ball as I was the only one left who had not been to the table for the film Nightflower. Two lovely ladies, producer Lizzette Atkins, and her mediator, Thale producer Gudren Giddings, had me all to themselves. Or is it lucky them?
Turns out this project already has some considerable talent attached to it already. David Scinto, writer of Sexy Beast and 44 Inch Chest, wrote it. And Eron Sheean, writer of The Divide and director of Errors of the Human Body, is attached to direct. Consider my interest piqued!
The story of Nightflower will centre around Lee, a wanna-be rock star, and his search for his missing girlfriend. His search brings him to her landlord, Gideon Cranley.
In the director’s statement Sheean’s intentions are that Nightflower have its roots in traditional British gothic horror. Expect a lot of heightened visuals achieved with ‘close attention to the design, composition and lighting, building from a more casual observational approach in the early scenes to a distinct and twisted representation, a dark fairy-teal, as Cranley bends Lee’s world out of shape’
‘The themes of obsession and desire are timeless, and Nightflower could beautifully update theses themes into a modern gothic’.