Cannes: Talk held at The UK Film Centre looked at the financing and production of Yorgos Lanthimos’ English-language debut.

“Co-productions, along with market money, are a really good way to go,” said Irish producer Ed Guiney at The Lobster Talent Talk held at The UK Film Centre in Cannes.

Joining in the conversation was fellow Element producing partner Lee Magiday and American producer Ceci Dempsey from Scarlet Films.

The film’s five territory financing structure began in Rotterdam 2013, and was finalised when production started in March 2014.

“We didn’t plan for it to be like this. It just ended up working out. And we were lucky, each of the territories wanted to support [director] Yorgos’ vision.  We didn’t have to compromise creatively,” said Magiday.

Guiney added, “In Ireland, we’re a small country – so we almost always are working with co-productions, particularly the UK. And with Yorgos on board, we immediately had a third country involved.”

Dempsey discussed its rapid development process that started in the summer of 2012.

“Yorgos approached Element with the script in the summer of 2012, and by Rotterdam 2013, there was a first draft.

“Our pitching was very specific as we didn’t want to give too much of the story away. It’s about love and loss, but essentially it’s a black comedy. And Yorgos is very specific about his vision, which appealed to financiers.”

Comparing the film-maker to Paolo Sorrentino, who is also at the festival with his first English language feature, Guiney said there were no issues with this being his first English-language film, and that his clear vision allowed them to work without creative restrictions.

“It’s not like we have to finance a first time film-maker. He already had a strong portfolio. Securing key actors helps when you want to get out and play in a bigger world. And once we had Rachel Weisz and Colin Farrell on board, it was easy to secure the rest of the cast and financing.”

“Yorgos has a very particular way of working,” said Magiday. “He didn’t cater the script with specific actors in mind. He works very simply - no rehearsals, no make-up – and the actors loved it, it was something different for them.”

The film’s €4m budget meant locations were kept simple, including six weeks in Kerry and one week in Devon, all cast and crew were based in one hotel in the off-season and there was no long haul driving to set.

“It gave the feeling of everyone being in it together. Each morning we had breakfast together, and that’s when we would discuss the day’s shoot,” said Magiday. 

“It ended up working best to finance in Europe – we are lucky to have funding like Eurimage, the Irish Film Board and other public entities,” added Guiney. “Though with that comes financial restrictions – so we worked together to best accommodate the finance partners as well the DNA of the story, the film-maker and other people involved the film.”

He continued, “The post production was completed in Holland, VFX was done in France, we shot in Ireland and the UK and we had a Greek director. And it worked for us – nothing felt forced.”

The panel concluded with a mention of Yorgos’ upcoming British period film, estimated to be ready next year, as well a confirmation of the film’s successful sales. 

“The movie has sold very well - US is still open and that’s a big thing for us to nail. But we know we have a plan. The UK and Ireland release is targeted for October, ideally launching around the London Film Festival,” said Guiney.