By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com May 18, 2011 at 12:04PM
In a dark and uncertain time for the British film industry, Warp Films is becoming one of the most interesting outlets around. The big-screen offshoot of legendary dance label Warp Records, the home of Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Grizzly Bear and Maximo Park, among others, the company has already been behind the high-quality likes of "This is England," "Submarine" and "Trash Humpers," and they're showing no signs of letting up.
The company has unveiled its latest slate, via Screen Daily, and there are more than a few projects in there that seem fairly exciting. First up, having backed both his BAFTA-winning short "Dog Altogether" and its feature-length extrapolation "Tyrannosaur," they seem keen to keep actor-turned-director Paddy Considine in the fold: they've got two projects in development from him and his producer Diarmid Scrimshaw. There are no details on either, but considering the mostly positive reviews that "Tyrannosaur" got, it can only be a matter of time before we find out more.
Considine isn't the only director who's switched tracks for Warp. Playwright Gregory Burke ("Gagarin's Way," "Black Watch") is working on "Sum," an action film set in Belfast, while modern art enfant terribles Jake & Dinos Chapman have recently made their short film debut with "The Organ Grinder's Monkey," starring Rhys Ifans alongside the voice talents of Kevin Spacey, Rosamund Pike and Daniel Craig, and the brothers are now developing a feature based on Jake's 2008 novel "The Marriage of Reason and Squalor," a riff on cheap romance novels.
Meanwhile, comedian Matthew Holness looks to be following the path of his former "Garth Marenghi's Darkplace" colleague Richard Ayoade: the two came up together on the comedy circuit, and Holness has now made his short directorial debut on the noir comedy "A Gun For George," and is developing a feature version with Warp. Another shorts director, Paul Wright, who won the BAFTA this year for "Until The River Runs Red," is also developing his feature debut.
They're also planning a series of sophomore features from helmers who made acclaimed debuts. "Donkey Punch" director Olly Blackburn will helm "Modify or Die," a car racing actioner seen as a British answer to "The Fast & The Furious," while "Kicks" director Lindy Heymann is developing a dark love story about the paparazzi, and Tom Shankland, who made the genuinely disturbing horror flick "The Children," is working on a big-scale naval warfare film "Destroyer," set during the Falklands War. Finally, Peter Strickland, who directed the excellent "Katalin Varga,"is wrapping up "Berberian Sound Studio" for Warp, and is developing another project with the company.
The long-in-development Brit List script "This Little Piggy," is finally coming together, while the company's Australian branch, who backed Cannes hit "Snowtown," is developing "Partisan" with shorts director Ariel Kleiman. Finally, three books have been optioned by the company, the most high-profile of which is the acclaimed "Sum -- 40 Tales From The Afterlives," for which a writer is currently being sought. The company also has Ian MacDonald's "The Dervish House," described as "a fantastic near-future, Islamic Bourne Identity set in the east-west melting pot of Istanbul," and psychological thriller "Numbers," about a woman who develops the ability to see strangers' deaths, and has hired "A Room For Romeo Brass" writer Paul Fraser to adapt it.
These projects are all in development, so for most, it'll be years before we see them on screen, if at all. But it's a hugely ambitious line-up, and that can only be applauded. Maybe record companies are the best way to save the British film industry, and we'd like to suggest the foundation of Rough Trade Films, XL Films and Domino Films as soon as humanly possible.