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Warp Films ramps up ambitious international slate

EXCLUSIVE: As Warp Films comes to Cannes with the first Warp Australia production - Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown [pictured] in Critics Week - the company is working on a number of new high-profile projects.

The first of several prominent book acquisitions is Rachel Ward’s Numbers, a supernatural thriller about a young woman who sees the dates of strangers’ deaths. Paul Fraser (A Room For Romeo Brass) will adapt. TF1 International is co-developing and co-producing the project, which Peter Carlton will produce.

Warp’s Carlton has also struck a deal with Zeno Agency for rights to Ian MacDonald’s The Dervish House. The story involves a house of whirling dervishes and a terrorist plot. Carlton said: “Ian has imagined a fantastic near-future, Islamic Bourne Identity set in the east-west melting pot of Istanbul. “

Warp MD Robin Gutch and producer Mary Burke have also acquired rights to Sum - 40 Tales from the Afterlives, by neuro-scientist David Eagleman. Producers are now talking to writers to adapt a narrative film interpreting the book, which imagines life after death. Angus Lamont of Crab Apple will co-produce.

Warp Films Australia, helmed by Anna MacLeish and Sarah Shaw, is next working on Partisan by Ariel Kleiman (who won the short prize in the Critics Week last year).

While building on its UK relationships, Warp is also increasingly looking for international projects and partners.

One big one will be sea battle movie Destroyer, written and to be directed by Tom Shankland (The Children), about the HMS Coventry in the 1980s Falklands/Malvinas conflict, adapted from Four Weeks In May by David Hart Dyke.” Ealing Metro International handles sales.

Gutch has co-developed and will produce the film with Lamont and they may set it up as a European co-production.
Warp is also on board with New York-based Howard Gertler and Tim Perell for Bobcat Goldthwait’s Schoolboys In Disgrace, based on the 1974 Kinks album. Ray Davies is executive producing, and musician Jack White is in talks to re-record the music. The film could be set up as a German co-production.

Still, Warp isn’t losing touch with its UK roots. Warp X’s recent hits include Paddy Considine’s Sundance award-winning debut Tyrannosaur, and Ben Wheatley’s SXSW hot seller Kill List. Optimum has UK rights to both.

Considine is also developing two further projects with Warp and Diarmid Scrimshaw’s Inflammable.

And Submarine co-producer Andy Stebbing is working with Gutch on a dark love story, set in the paparazzi world, written by Benjamin Bond and Lindy Heymann (the latter will direct).

Warp recently finished principal photography on British director Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio, co-produced by Mary Burke and Keith Griffiths (Uncle Boonmee). Burke, head of Warp Signature, is also working on a new project with Strickland that will be set in Europe.

Warp is also working with emerging UK talents via in-house producers Ally Gipps and Polly Stokes. Matthew Holness’ short A Gun For George, about a failed thriller writer who seeks violent revenge, is now being adapted for a feature.

Also, artists Jake and Dinos Chapman have made short The Organ Grinder’s Monkey, starring Rhys Ifans and with a voice cast including Daniel Craig, Kevin Spacey, and Rosamund Pike. The Chapmans are now developing feature The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, based on Jake Chapman’s surreal romantic novel.

Warp is working with is creative team Shynola, who will make sci-fi thriller Redmen, adapted from the novel by Matthew de Abaitua.

Stokes and Burke will also produce the debut feature (developed with Film4 and the BFI) of BAFTA short winner Paul Wright.

Laura Hastings-Smith (who worked with Gutch on Steve McQueen’s Hunger) is pulling together the final financing for psychological horror This Little Piggy.

Also with Lamont’s Crab Apple, the joint slate includes Gregory Burke’s Belfast action thriller Sum and Donkey Punch director Olly Blackburn’s car racing actioner Modify or Die.

Warp CEO Mark Herbert and Gutch told Screen: “We’ve had an amazing year with films that retained the true warp spirit and ethos winning at festivals and doing good business too. Looking at the ambitions of our future slate, and how we’re working with such a range of exciting directors, writers and producers from around the world, it really feels like the company is about to enter an exciting new phase.”

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