Cuba Pictures, the film and TV arm of London-based talent agency Curtis Brown, almost epitomises synergy.
In late 2004, Curtis Brown's Nick Marston and Tally Garner set up the division, and they are now launching their successful first feature, Boy A, with a November 26 airing on the UK's Channel 4. The film has played at festivals including Toronto, where The Weinstein Company struck a deal for worldwide rights excluding the UK. It will also screen in the Berlinale's Panorama in February.
The project came about when Garner and her colleague in the book department, Anna Davis, hired client Mark O'Rowe to adapt a new novel, Boy A, by Jonathan Trigell (also a client). Liza Marshall at Channel 4 greenlit the production less than 10 months after the book was optioned. John Crowley, who had worked with O'Rowe on Intermission, came on to direct the story of a young man trying to start afresh after a troubled youth. Up-and-coming star Andrew Garfield took the lead role, opposite Peter Mullan, and Lynn Horsford was brought in as the hands-on lead producer.
"The first project is something you want to be of a really good quality," Marston, who is managing director of Curtis Brown's media division, says of Boy A. "It's been a great experience. It shows how this incubating process can work."
Cuba also benefits from established film industry expertise, as one of the UK Film Council's Super Slate development partnerships, led by Capitol Films. Cuba hopes to do one feature per year, and has so far put its own money into development or financed films on a project-by-project basis.
Cuba is run out of Curtis Brown by only Marston and Garner for the time being. The outfit has seven projects in development, including some higher-profile literary adaptations. With New Line, Cuba is developing Jonathan Strange & Mr Norell by author Susanna Clarke, and through the Capitol slate Enda Walsh is adapting Island Of The Aunts based on Eva Ibbotson's children's book. Also at the script stage is Andrea Gibb's adaptation of Vikram Seth's An Equal Music (a director has yet to be named).
"The agency as a whole works with actors, writers, directors, authors, presenters, voiceover artists and below-the-line talents," Garner says. "The idea is that all the facets of the agency feed into each other."