How To Sell a War

#IrishFilm: Production begins in Georgia on Rudolph Herzog’s How To Sell a War

How to Sell a War – the fiction feature film debut of leading international documentary director Rudolph Herzog has started shooting in Tbilisi, Georgia. Produced by Film and Music Entertainment (F&ME) the UK/Dublin-based production house the company has boosted its 2017/18 production slate to 10 features to be completed or go into production during 2018.

The production has just finalised a deal signing Jay Pharaoh, the American actor, stand-up comedian, and musician, who has been cast to play rock star Harry Hope.  Pharaoh most recently starred opposite Claire Foy in Steven Soderbergh’s ground breaking Berlinale entry Unsane, and will next be seen in Lionsgate/CodeBlack’s upcoming feature #Twominutesoffame.  Pharaoh starred as the lead of Showtime’s White Famous last year, and was a cast member on NBC’s Saturday Night Live for six seasons beginning in 2010.  Other new additions to the cast announced today include Daryl McCormack (Vikings) soon to be seen in Michael Grandage’s Lieutenant of Inishmore,  Ali Cook (Lost in Karastan,Mr Selfridge), Volker Michalowski (Inglorious Basterds) and Samuel Vargu (Pit Stop Mafia,Elvis Walks Home).

London 2018 – In a few days time, a  global charity concert is due to take place led by the vain and arrogant rock star, Harry Hope and his over-confident PR consultant, Kate. When notorious war monger, Boris the Butcher, decides to call a cease-fire four days before the big event, Kate knows that she absolutely has to make this event happen or her career will be over. She embarks on a mission to Georgia to create a fake news story letting the world know that the war is back on. Assisted by her naïve new intern, Peggy, the two quickly discover that they have taken on more than they can handle and as events spiral out of their control, all hell quickly breaks loose.

How to Sell a War has been picked up for worldwide sales by UK sales outfit Bankside Films, and the production stars BAFTA winning Katherine Parkinson (credits include Humans and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society) in the leading role of Kate and co-stars up-and-coming Lily Newmark as naïve intern/niece Peggy whose five star performance in Pin Cushion scored her a BIFA nomination this year.

The film was developed by Creative England, Film and Music Entertainment (UK) Ltd, Finnish financing house IPR.VC and is being produced by Samantha Taylor and Mike Downey via their Dublin-based Film and Music Entertainment (IRE) with key financing from the UK’s Quickfire and Helsinki-based IPR.VC.

The first days of the shoot have gone exactly according to plan. Our long experience with working in Georgia is paying off, as we know that in Vladimer Katcharava and his highly experienced team, we have a vast wealth of talent supporting our director and his world class cast.  We’re looking forward to the rest of the shoot here in Georgia and moving on to Dublin for the final week in Croke Park.  Mike Downey, Producer and Deputy Chair of the European Film Academy

Rudolph Herzog (director) is an award-winning director, producer and writer. RTS Award-nominated The Paedophile Next Door for Channel 4, is BBC/ARD documentary on humour in Hitler’s Third Reich sold widely internationally and his book Dead Funny on the same subject was named a book of the year by THE ATLANTIC. He directed The Heist for channel Four and in 2014, a documentary based on his book A Short History of Nuclear Folly was broadcast in Europe. He helmed a National Geographic special on the mysterious death of polar explorer Roald Amundsen and The Agent on the double agent Werner Stiller who escaped East Germany and became a millionaire at Goldman Sachs. His latest best seller, Teruggestalten, has been picked up by Philipp Kreuzer’s Maze Pictures (The Happy Prince) for production.  He is the son of legendary German director Werner Herzog.

Written by Tim Price (Dr. Who; Secret Diary of a Call Girl) whose National Theatre sell-out production Occupy starred Rhys Ifans and whose The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning won the prestigious James Tait Black prize for drama) he has brought to life an idea by Raid Sabbah which is co-produced in association with Georgia’s 20 Steps Productions, and co-funded by Georgian National Film Centre and the tax credit scheme of Enterprise Georgia.

F&ME is in an advanced stage of negotiations to confirm Sister Bliss to compose the score for the film.  As the musical force behind Faithless, world-renowned DJ and record producer Sister Bliss needs no introduction. Together with iconic front man Maxi Jazz and producer Rollo Armstrong (brother of Dido), she formed Faithless: one of the most successful electronic acts to date.  In their career spanning nearly 20 years, the group released 7 albums (two at number 1), six top 10 singles and sold in excess of 15 million records worldwide.

Sam Taylor and Mike Downey founded the UK-based independent production house Film and Music Entertainment as part of an IPO on the Frankfurt DAX. Film & Music Entertainment films have been screened at Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Venice, San Sebastian and Toronto Film festivals.  The first 18 years of F&ME’s existence saw it entering into production on 60-odd co-productions with a total budget of $ 200 million involving 132 production companies from all over Europe, Latin America and Asia. It now has a catalogue of rights in over 60 features including Academy Award Nominee and Venice Golden Lion winner Before the Rain, Academy Award Nominee Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s Venice opener The President, box office horror hit Deathwatch, Sundance South African hit Son of Man, Jason Biggs starrer Guy X and Dinard winner White Lightnin’ as well as 2012 Berlinale Audience Award Winner Parada by Srdjan Dragojevic.

How to Sell a War is a Downey/Taylor production for Film and Music Entertainment (IRE) in co-production with 20 Steps Production and in association with Quickfire Films, Bankside Films, IPR.VC fund and the Georgian National Film Centre.  Developed in association with Creative England, Film and Music Entertainment (UK), and Kinomedia.  The film is produced by Sam Taylor and Mike Downey, co-producers are Vladimer Katcharava and Radek Drabik and executive producers are James Atherton, Jan Pace, James Bierman and Aleksi Bardy.

The film is shot by legendary German DoP Peter Zeitlinger whose work with Herzog senior has included, Grizzly Man, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Rescue Dawn and Cave of Forgotten Dreams as well as Nicole Kidman starrer Queen of the Desert.  The film will be edited by Anne Sopel whose most recent work includes Whisky Galore as well as Mr Selfridge and The White Princess.

International productions coming to Georgia can, also,  benefit from the cash back incentive Film in Georgia offering 20-25% on qualified local spend.  In Ireland, the section 481 tax credit is being accessed.

Filmed on location in in Georgia and Dublin, casting is handled in the UK by Vicky Wildman. Production services in Georgia have been supplied by Caucasian Film Service, post production services and investment will come from Dublin-based Windmill Lane, where the complete edit and all post will take place.  Local accounting services supplied by Grant Thornton and legal services on behalf of the producers by Mathesons.

Next up for F&ME is the Russia/Ireland/France/Lithuania co-production of Ivan I. Tverdovsky’s Jumpman.  Best known for his films Corrections Class and Zoology the film is produced by Mila Rozanova of Moscow’s New People Film Company in partnership with Downey and Taylor of F&ME (IRE), Arizona Productions and UAB Tremora and is supported by Eurimages.  Jumpman tells the story of Denis –  young man suffering from a rare disease – complete numbness to pain – who becomes the centre of a corrupt scam, organised by a group of Russian civil servants.

Moving to Central Europe, F&ME (IRE) is also partnering with Ivan Ostrochovský and Katarina Tomkova of Bratislava’s Punkchart Films on a screenplay written by Rebecca Lenckiewicz (Academy Award and EFA for IDA) and Marek Leščák entitled The Disciple.  Ostrochovský, who made his name with art house breakout hits Velvet Terrorists and Koza directs this drama set in a Catholic seminary in Communist Slovakia which will begin shooting in March and will also do post production in Dublin.

The Disciple tells the story of 17-year-old boy best friends Michal and Juraj leave their home village of Spis in Slovakia to join a Seminary in Bratislava. Two boys fight the oppressive system, but the question is who will win? The film is a Slovak, Czech, Romania, Ireland co-production led by Ostrochovský’s Punkchart, with  Pavel Strnad’s NEGATIV s.r.o, Tudor Giurgiu’s Libra Film Productions and F&ME (IRE) as partners.

F&ME has also just come to the end of post-production on another collaboration with JaJa Film Production. Jamillah van der Hulst directs a hard hitting (literally) feature documentary Fighting for Life which is a unique look inside the South African prison Drakenstein Correctional Center and the impressive work of Dutch boxing coach Sharita in the rehabilitation program for prisoners that are serving heavy sentences.  Prior to it’s International Premiere, Fighting For Life will get its Dutch premiere during the Sport Film Festival in Rotterdam where Sharita is a Boxing Sports Coordinator for Rotterdam

Staying in Georgia and currently at the writing stage, F&ME will partner once again with Vladimer Katcharava’s 20 Steps Productions on Nene, the follow up to their previous collaboration Marian Khatchvani’s multi award winning Dede.  Nene is already blazing a trail with being selected for this year’s Cannes Cinefondation and winning the Asia-Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) development grant in December, after being unveiled among four projects from 105 initial submissions.

Other 2018 projects include: the third in the documentary series Streetkids United is Streekids United III – The Road To RussiaCassandra at the Wedding by Dorothy Baker which is currently being adapted by playwright Chloe Moss; a Czech/Ireland/Slovak production with Sarka Cimbalova’s Marlene Film of Charlatan directed by Agnieszka Holland, a version of the Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall,  and an adaptation of Arthur Machen’s legendary fantasy, Hill of Dreams adapted by Jonathan Preece.