British Indie Mad as Birds Unveils Cannes Film Market Slate (EXCLUSIVE)


Published Time: 14.05.2024 - 08:31:33 Modified Time: 14.05.2024 - 08:31:33

U.K. independent production outfit Mad as Birds (“Set Fire to the Stars,” “The Almond and the Seahorse”) has unveiled a slate spanning genres and will commence sales for them at the Cannes Film Festival market.

Welsh actor, writer and directorCelyn Jones runs the company alongside Sean Marley and Nicola Pearcey of partner company Picnik Entertainment. It’s already been a busy 2024 for Jones, with two films, “The Almond and the Seahorse,” starring Rebel Wilson and Jones and “Swede Caroline” currently in theatrical release. A third, “Chuck Chuck Baby,” is due in July, and pre-production is commencing on “Madfabulous.”

On the upcoming slate, “The Night Guest,” written and directed by Jones, is described by the filmmaker as “a contained thriller, two brilliant actresses going head-to-head in a beach house with an imaginary tiger.” Casting is under way and a Canadian co-producer is being finalized.

“Darby & Joan” is a bittersweet comedy about “an old double act coming back together at the end of their careers and forgiving each other,” Jones says. The film is written and will be directed by actor-director James D’Arcy and casting is on to find a male and female lead “that will really zing off each other,” Jones said.

Action film “Red,” currently casting for an end of year shoot, is written and directed by David Newton and Beau Fowler.The film is an expansion of the acclaimed 2020 short of the same name, directed by Newton and written by and starring Fowler. Newton is renowned for his stunt work on “Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens,” James Bond film “No Time to Die,” “Game of Thrones” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” Similarly, Fowler, who is also known for his stylish music videos, has stunt credits on “No Time to Die” and “Sparks and Embers” among many others.

“It’s a British action film that will be done with two guys who have been doing stunt performing at a huge level across their careers,” Jones said. “So the actor coming on board for that movie will almost be -

Marvel or James Bond ready, because they’re going to train them in martial arts and guns and build them up. And what they’d love to do is cast a brilliant actor and get them ready for the genre, rather than the other way around.”

Also casting is “Call Girls,” a female-fronted comedy written by Paul Coleman (“Car Share”) and Brennan Reece (“Live at the Apollo) that Jones likens to “The Full Monty,” “Kinky Boots” and “Made in Dagenham.” It is about “British northern factory workers who become premium sex chatline workers for money, but it’s really, really beautiful,” Jones said.

“Love Ireland” is a romcom co-written by Jeff Pope and Ian Puleston Davies, who collaborated successfully on “Dirty Filthy Love.” Davies will also direct.The film will follow a second generation Irish American who has run away from his wedding. He happens to land on an island off Ireland that is doing its first matchmaking festival.

Jones, writer Joe Bone, Mad As Birds and Danish filmmaker Kristoffer Nyholm previously collaborated on “The Vanishing,” starring Gerard Butler and Peter Mullan, that bowed at Sitges in 2018. They are reuniting on Western “The Corrupt,” which is currently casting. “I’m really excited – this Scandi noir director, making a traditional John Ford-style Western,” Jones said.

All the films will avail of the newly introduced U.K. Independent Film Tax Credit, a 53% expenditure credit that equates to a tax relief of approximately 40% for U.K. independent productions. “It’s a total game changer for independent film in the U.K.,” Jones says of the incentive. “And I hope all independent filmmakers in the U.K. are getting into production as quick as possible before everybody else comes and hoovers up all the crews and workers.”

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