By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com November 24, 2010 at 2:12AM
Plus Jane Goldman Adapting Peter Ackroyd Novel 'Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem' & More
As we discussed earlier in the year, the British film industry has historically been heavily reliant on government subsidy, via the UK Film Council, an institution short-sightedly scrapped by the new government. It's promised that the funding will remain in place, albeit distributed through different means (the new plans will be announced on Monday), but, with the Council unlikely to be formally disbanded until 2012, there are a few more rounds of funding to come, and the latest was made public this morning, via Screen Daily.
Now, we were aware of several of the more high-profile, more heavily funded projects, including the likes of Lynne Ramsay's "We Need To Talk About Kevin," Steve McQueen's "Shame," Terrence Davies' "The Deep Blue Sea" and Joe Cornish's "Attack the Block" (which isn't a bad line-up, it should be said), but there are a few tidbits among the projects in development that were news to us.
First among them is the award of £60,000 to a new project by Hammer & Tongs, the alias of directing/producing duo Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith. The pair, veterans of music videos and commercials (they released a compilation DVD yesterday which comes highly recommended), made their feature debut with 2005's "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy," but it was with 2008's "Son of Rambow" that they truly made an impression -- the charming coming-of-age tale is one of the best British films of recent years.
In between uncredited rewrite work for the likes of "How To Train Your Dragon," the duo have been developing a pair of scripts -- one a CGI animated pic, the other a live-action adventure. The UKFC-funded project is titled "Dud," and we have a feeling that it's neither of the previously mentioned films: while the duo were recruiting concept artists for the animation as recently as August, a search reveals a UK camera crew who worked on a test for "Dud" using HD cameras, suggesting that the project's live action. At the same time, "Dud" doesn't sound like the other live action script they were working on (which we can't talk about, unfortunately), leading us to believe it's something new. More details will emerge soon, we imagine.
Probably the other really high-profile offering revealed here is an adaptation of the novel "Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem," by historian and writer Peter Ackroyd, something of an expert on the secret history of London. The book (which is very good indeed, and well worth seeking out) is a murder mystery set in Victorian London, about the rise and fall of a vaudeville star, against the background of the hunt for a serial killer in East London. It's being adapted by rising screenwriter Jane Goldman ("Kick-Ass," "X-Men: First Class," "The Woman In Black") for Number 9 Films ("Made in Dagenham"), and it's definitely one to keep an eye on.
Other noteworthy projects include:
"All Quiet On The Orient Express" - an adaptation of the Magnus Mills novel, about a man who becomes trapped in a caravan park, this comes from Jim Field-Smith and George Kay, who teamed on last year's Brit List-topping script "Good Luck Anthony Belcher." Field-Smith made his directorial debut with this year's "She's Out Of My League," and has the more promising "Butter," with Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman and Ty Burrell, on the way shortly.
"Been So Long" - based on the play by Che Walker, which follows the romance between two barflies in a Camden pub, this could either be a straight adaptation, or a musical: Walker reworked the play, with songs, at the Young Vic in 2009.
"Darkness Visible" - an original script from director Neil Biswas ("Skins," "The Take"), this is set to star Riz Ahmed ("Four Lions") as a young man travelling through Kolkota after the death of his mother, uncovering dark secrets.
"Dombey and Son" - an adaptation of a less well-known Dickens novel, from Greenpoint Films ("Hideous Kinky")
"Gone Too Far" - based on the acclaimed play by young writer Bola Agbaje, this story of two brothers, one raised in London, the other in Nigeria, tackles racial identity in a fresh, exciting way. It's set to be directed by Destiny Ekaragha, who was behind the acclaimed short "Tight Jeans."
"Iggy" - We've reported on this one before, but to recap, it has the enticing pair of John Crowley ("Boy A") and Lee Hall ("Billy Elliot") tackling the story of Sister Mary Ignatius Davies, the nun who had a colossal influence in nurturing the birth of reggae and ska music.
"Like a Virgin" - a comedy from actress/writer Catherine Shephard, best known for co-starring on "The Peter Serafinowicz Show"
"Nativity! The Second Coming" - a sequel to last year's family comedy "Nativity," which starred Martin Freeman as a teacher who tells his class that a Hollywood producer is coming to see their Christmas nativity play. The film was a modest success in the UK, clearly enough so that director Debbie Issitt ("Confetti") is working away on a sequel, although we imagine Freeman's commitments on "The Hobbit" may cause issues.
"New Career In A New Town: David Bowie In Berlin" - a music documentary on Bowie's Berlin period, from Grant Gee ("Meeting People is Easy," the excellent "Joy Division"). We're sold.
"Flawless Skin Of Ugly People" - written by Playlist favorite Jack Thorne, and set to be directed by James Griffiths ("Free Agents," "Royal Wedding"), this adaptation of a Doug Crandell novel made last year's Brit List, about an acne-plagued man attempting to rescue his obese girlfriend from a weight-loss clinic.
"Travels With My Aunt" - a new adaptation of the classic Graham Greene novel, this comes from writers Olivia Hetreed (Andrea Arnold's upcoming "Wuthering Heights") and Andy Paterson ("Girl With The Pearl Earring").
There's plenty more over at Screen, so head there to see the full list, and exactly how much each one's been awarded.