BAFTA-winner to adapt short story Dogfight, from cult sci-fi writer; currently in Rotterdam with Brand New-U.

BAFTA-winning British director Simon Pummell is preparing a new film based on Dogfight, a short story by cult sci-fi writer William Gibson, co-written with Michael Swanwick.

It will be made with his regular producing partner Janine Marmot of London-based Hot Property Films.

“It is a film about gambling,” Pummell explained. “When I talked to (William) Gibson about it, he said it was a riff on The Hustler. The backbone of the film is the idea that every idea of improvement, quality and happiness in our life can be accounted for in money.”

Pummel, who is scripting Dogfight, is currently putting the finishing touches to his new feature Brand New-U. The futuristic psychological thriller, sold internationally by Match Factory, is in advanced post-production and will be ready by March.

Brand New-U follows 33-year-old Slater, who obsessively chases Nadia, the love of his life. When she suddenly disappears Slater wants to report her missing, but realizes he knows nothing about her. The only clue he has is Brand New-U, a shadowy organization that deals in new personalities. It has music by Roger Goula and stars Nick Blood and Nora-Jane Noone.

Brand New-U features complex special effects. These are being done by Dutch company Raamw3rk. The project has been put together as a UK-Dutch-Irish coproduction.

Other partners are Rinkel in the Netherlands, SP Films in Ireland and the film has been made in association with Illuminations Films. Brand New-U is backed by the BFI Film Fund, the Irish Film Board, the Netherlands Film Fund and Finite Films.

Following on from Pummell’s experimental Bodysong (a BAFTA winner in 2004) and Pummell’s 2012 feature and the director’s essayistic 2011 feature Shock Head Soul (which played at the Venice Festival), Brand New-U is the “first pure drama film” he has made.

“This film takes certain tropes from science-fiction films and from thrillers,” Pummell said. Speaking at International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), the Dutch-based director described it as having “Hitchcockian” themes.

“What Brand New-U is trying to look at is how you can use science fiction tropes and language to talk about a genuine form of social realism,” the writer-director stated.

Pummel points out that in today’s digital age, the boundaries between sci-fi and social realism are beginning to collapse.

The film, he adds, is “trying to capture the flavour of what it is to live in this very networked world where our identities are all very provisional and we all feel we can improve ourselves, rematch ourselves and re-invent ourselves.”

Dogfight will be similarly themed. The director also has another new project in development. The working title is Immortality Death Trip. It is being scripted by New York-based writer David Rice.

“It is a horror movie. I guess you could say it is an exploration of the consequences of immortality,” Pummell said. “It is immortality maybe not as living forever but dying over and over.”

The film, also being made through Hot Property is about a young couple who going on “a killing binge, essentially of each other…in a way, it is a sexual relationship through murder. They move through a number of cities, almost a road trip.”