The UK production company behind indie hit comedy The Guard unveils details of its new John Michael McDonagh projects.
The Guard director John Michael McDonagh is in development on a number of new projects for London-based production company Reprisal Films which he runs with ex Working Title producer Chris Clark and producers Flora Fernandez-Marengo and Elizabeth Eves.
Next up, McDonagh has written the script for an Irish set drama Calvary about a priest who is victimised by members of his community, which has Brendan Gleeson attached.
“There are probably films in development about priests which involve abuse. My remit is to do the opposite of what other people do, and I wanted to make a film about a good priest,” says McDonagh, who wrote the script during the edit of The Guard and who describes the project as being “in the same darkly comedic vein as The Guard, but with a much more serious and dramatic narrative.”
The film is being pitched at a similar budget to The Guard, which was made for $6.8m.
Also in development is a bigger budget US-set dark comedy, War On Everyone, about a pair of corrupt cops in the deep South.
Both projects are at the financing stage, with plans to take the projects to the upcoming EFM at the Berlin Film Festival for a potential summer 2012 shoot.
McDonagh revealed that he has just come back from Los Angeles where he was discussing Chaos, Inc., an action-comedy about a Buddhist private eye in Las Vegas, with a canvas of eccentric supporting characters, that may be developed as a big-budget TV series. He is also working on a script based on a real life group of French bank robbers in 1911 called The Bonnot Gang which is a “cross between The Wild Bunch and Le Samourai,” according to McDonagh.
Originally set up in 2000 to produce McDonagh’s short film The Second Death, (the genesis for The Guard), Reprisal Films was resurrected again in 2007 to develop and produce The Guard, bringing Irish company Element Pictures onboard.
The Guard has gone on to become the most successful independent film of all time at the Irish box office, with impressive box office performances in Australia, the US and the UK. It is currently on releae in Germany, opening in Italy this weekend and France in December.
“Reprisal is about four individuals coming together to make interesting, provocative films, primarily projects that John has written and will direct, which have an international element, whilst remaining as independent as possible,” says Clark who continues to work as an independent producer on other projects, including Johnny English Reborn which is currently topping the UK box office and the upcoming thriller Closed, to be directed by John Crowley from a screenplay by Eastern Promises writer Steven Wright for Working Title.
“A mixture of things happened in 2007/2008 which meant it was the right timing - I left Working Title, John really wanted to direct something and Flora wanted to start producing films again, so we all came together again,” adds Clark.
“None of us are prepared to invest time on something that we don’t think is going to be fantastic. There is a commitment to quality,” says Fernandez -Marengo, who produced the 2009 Oscar nominated and 2010 Emmy winning documentary Betrayal and this year’s UK foreign language Oscar contender, Patagonia.
She also runs Argentinian production service company Labhouse. Meanwhile Australian producer Eves runs Stalkr, a creative licensing company which makes commercials for clients including Nike and Nokia using archive footage.
The team hope to use their international connections to make ambitious films which will play well on the international stage. “We don’t want to get stuck in the low-budget grind, we want to be more ambitious and move up as much as we can every time,” says McDonagh.