: 5
Scr: Mark Mahon
Estimated budget: $27.3m (Eu20m)
Funds in place: $6.8m (Eu5m)

Freedom Within The Heart won the best unproduced screenplay award at the International Action on Film Awards in 2005, and has since been turned into a graphic novel.

The project is an ambitious one. The script is set in 952 AD when infighting among Irish clans allowed the pagan Vikings to invade with little resistance.

It is based on the true story of Brian Boru, who, aged 14, witnesses the brutal death of his parents and goes on to become king of Ireland, ushering an era of long-overdue peace. Along the way, the script traces Brian's relationship with his brother Mahoun and includes several bloody battles.

Freedom Within The Heart is more than a film for director Mark Mahon as he claims to be a direct descendant of the Boru brothers.

'I sometimes think some of Boru's blood is in me and that's why his story must be told,' he explains.

Mahon's own life up to now has also been full of dramatic incident. His first love was performing and he trained at Lamda in London. He is also a prolific singer/songwriter with 40 original songs to his name.

But at the age of 22, an accident left him severely injured and in a wheelchair for three years. Forced to find a new way to express himself, he began writing film scripts, including Freedom Within The Heart.

After winning the award, he set up his own production company, Maron Pictures, with offices in Los Angeles and Cork.

Mahon completed his first film, Strength And Honour, earlier this year. Starring Michael Madsen and Vinnie Jones, it is the story of a boxer who unwittingly kills his best friend in the ring and promises he will give up the sport.

But years later, when his only son is diagnosed with the same heart disorder that killed his wife, the ex-boxer is drawn into the dark world of bare-knuckle fighting to raise money for the surgery that could save his life.