Cumberbatch and fellow producers at SunnyMarch talk to Screen about their first film and upcoming slate.

UK-based production outfit SunnyMarch, run by Benedict Cumberbatch, Adam Ackland, Ben Dillon and Adam Selves, is launching with short Little Favour (view trailer here), a £87,000 action-thriller starring Cumberbatch, Colin Salmon and Nick Moran.

ScreenDaily yesterday sat down with white-hot Star Trek and Sherlock star Cumberbatch and his fellow-producers.

“We’re at an exciting juncture,” Cumberbatch told Screen. “We’ve made our first effort as a team and we’re aiming to make a concrete statement in the next few months about what we’re going to do next. We want a varied slate. There will be a feature to announce in the next few months.”

“We have scripts in development and books that we’re looking to option,” he continued. “We have links through my agency here and in the US to facilitate that. It’s about building a reputation and slate off the back of this short.”

The outfit will focus on features but didn’t rule out working on TV projects in the future.

Cumberbatch met former AD Ackland during shoot for BBC mini-series The Last Enemy. Little Favour writer-director Monroe is a former personal trainer to Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy while action vehicle coordinator Dillon has worked on titles including Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, Kick Ass 2, Hummingbird and Killer Elite.

Ackland added: “We want to tell different stories via quality independent films. Action-thrillers are a direction we want to go in but it’s not the only direction”. Selves is currently writing a feature for the slate, which could be one of the first to go into production.

Little Favour saw its UK premiere last night in London and, according to the producers, is already top of iTunes’ short film chart in a number of the 75 territories it is playing in.

The film raised three times its intended budget via crowd-funding platform Indiegogo. In an unusual move, the team plans to reimburse investors if the film makes back its budget through iTunes sales.

Released in the UK on November 5 (link here), the 20-minute short, shot on the Sony-F65 camera, showcases a different side to Cumberbatch, who plays Wallace, a former soldier battling ruthless criminals and his own demons in a blood-spattered, sweat-drenched tank top.

“I don’t think I’ve done anything quite as violent but that’s purposeful. It’s brutal and it should be shocking. My character has reassimilated as best he can but he is deeply traumatised. The film also has an important message about child-soldiers. Many people don’t realise that 40% of child soldiers are girls.”

Cumberbatch said he hopes the part kick-starts more action roles for him: “It’s a wonderful opportunity for me to flex those acting muscles. I got to do it to as Khan [in Star Trek] but he is a genetically engineered warrior and part of a fantasy genre. This character has seen real-world conflict. It’s definitely a direction I want my career to go in. Anything I haven’t done, I’d like to try. A romantic lead, for example.”

Asked if Everest was a likely future project for him, Cumberbatch laughed: “I want to do it all. I want to climb mountains, go through jungles, fight wars in space, get the girl, shoot the bad-guy full of lead, have all the zippy one liners, bulge muscles out of a singlet, drip sweat and blood on screen, all of that.”