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Film4 Backs Ben Wheatley's Cops & Monsters Flick 'Freakshift,' Director Also Planning English Civil War Drama

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 23, 2012 at 10:00AM

It's a good day to be Ben Wheatley. The director, who's become one of the most talked-about new directors around thanks to "Down Terrace" and "Kill List," is making his Cannes debut today with his dark, Edgar Wright-exec-produced comedy "Sightseers" -- a press screening is underway as we speak, and we'll have our verdict for you later this evening. And just as that film is released into the wild, Wheatley seems to have landed financing for his most ambitious project yet, and is planning yet another film to follow that.
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'Kill List' Director Ben Wheatley Reveals Plot Details For 'Freak Shift,' Has Director's Cut Of 'Sightseers' Ready To Show Edgar Wright

It's a good day to be Ben Wheatley. The director, who's become one of the most talked-about new directors around thanks to "Down Terrace" and "Kill List," is making his Cannes debut today with his dark, Edgar Wright-exec-produced comedy "Sightseers" -- a press screening is underway as we speak, and we'll have our verdict for you later this evening. And just as that film is released into the wild, Wheatley seems to have landed financing for his most ambitious project yet, and is planning yet another film to follow that.

According to Screen Daily, Film4, which was partially behind both "Kill List" and "Sightseers," has decided to reteam with Wheatley on "Freakshift," a cops vs. monsters movie which the filmmaker will direct next year. The company is currently looking for co-financing on the project, which will see the director working on his biggest canvas to date. Screen Daily don't have many plot details on the project, but luckily Wheatley spilled the beans on the film when we spoke to him earlier in the year.

The helmer told us "It's an adventure/sci-fi thing. It's like 'Hill Street Blues.' It's about a crew that's built up this armored vehicle and they go out and have to respond to 911 calls about these big monsters that have come out of the ground. They come out of the ground every night but there are different creatures -- there are these massive half-monkey mutant things and loads of weird spiders and shit." The director's been working with 2000AD artists on the creature design, and the intention is to get before cameras in 2013.

Before that, unless plans have changed, he'll direct another black comedy, "I, Macrobane," starring Nick Frost and "Kill List" star Michael Smiley, and it sounds like he's got plans stretching even further in to the future. The Observer's Jason Solomons reveals that Wheatley is also working on "an improvised English Civil War drama." That particular period of English history hasn't been a hugely successful one on screen ("To Kill A King," with Dougray Scott and Tim Roth, being the most recent example), but we're intrigued to see what Wheatley makes of it, particularly if he's using the same freewheeling techniques as in his first two films. Obviously, it's early days, though -- with "I, Macrobane" and "Freakshift" coming up, this is unlikely to get rolling before late 2013 or early 2014.

Film4, meanwhile, is busy too: the company has also backed "On The Road" and short film "The Curse," and has unveiled a pretty impressive slate for the next couple of years. Some of the films were already known -- "Carol" with Cate Blanchett and Mia Wasikowska, "Cuban Fury," starring Frost and Chris O'Dowd, Richard Ayoade's "The Double" and John Le Carre adaptations "A Most Wanted Man" and "Our Kind Of Traitor," from Anton Corbijn and Justin Kurzel respectively. But there are a few new ones in there as well: Belfast-set thriller "71" from "Top Boy" director Yann Demange, and "The Selfish Giant," an adaptation of the Oscar Wilde fairy tale that will mark Clio Barnard's follow-up to her outstanding drama/documentary hybrid "The Arbor."

This article is related to: Ben Wheatley, Freakshift, Sightseers


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