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CLOSING THE GAP

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Gael McLaughlin • Producer

- Cineuropa talks to UK producer Gael McLaughlin, one of the participants at the 2011 Closing the Gap Workshop

Gael McLaughlin • Producer

Cineuropa talks to UK producer Gael McLaughlin, one of the participants at the 2011 Closing the Gap Workshop, co-organised by film financing consultancy Peacefulfish.

Cineuropa: Tell us about yourself and the films you have produced?

Gael McLaughlin: I am a UK-based producer. My background is in short and documentary film making for organisations such as the BBC, the UK Film Council and Channel Four. I helped bring the finance to the UK action feature The Tournament starring Robert Carlyle and Ving Rhames, and I also worked as assistant to the producer on the thriller Harry Brown [+see also:
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 starring Sir Michael Caine. I was one of the six producers chosen for the 2010 Magic Light Producer Placement scheme, which included placements with Olswang, BBC Films, Optimum Releasing, the UK Film Council, Salt, Freud Communications, Ealing Studios and many more. I was also one of the five producers selected for the 2010 Guiding Lights mentoring scheme, my mentor was Iain Smith (Wanted, The A-Team, The Fifth Element). That is why before participating to the Closing the Gap Programme, I had already experience inproducing TV and short films and in working closely with producers on a high-profile British feature.

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In what ways did the Closing the Gap programme transform your experience?
I attended the Closing The Gap course with a project called Madam Samurai, an action-adventure story about a female samurai warrior who travels to Victorian London on a mission of vengeance. Closing The Gap helped me to fully engage with what I had already started to suspect – that grabbing hold of and developing all the IP opportunities a film or TV project offers is a smart idea for an up-and-coming producer, especially if you have a project with a Hollywood size budget. It also brought home just how accessible that has become with both the reduced price of technology and the opportunities that the internet and digital development offer us all.

What are the most important lessons you learned?
I learned how to hone my pitch down so it was very clear and easy to absorb for potential financiers. Because the sessions away in Bari and Bergen also offered opportunities forsocializing with the investment panel and industry mentors I also learned far more about the way financiers minds work and their priorities in a relaxed environment, which was really invaluable.

At what stage is Madam Samurai at now? Do you think it would be where it is without having participated in Closing the Gap?
Things are in a very interesting place right now with the project. Last year there was some strong interest from a US studio in taking the project in the direction of a TV series. However the terms were that I essentially step away from the IP in its entirety, which did not appeal to me. I am now focusing my attention on developing the project into an app and online game and building a fan base there. I’m also considering the idea of a TV series with some European partners, so we’ll see where that leads.

Would you recommend the Closing the Gap programme to other producers? What do they stand to gain from it?
I would recommend that any producers with strong transmedia elements or potential in their story consider attending Closing The Gap. I think they would stand to gain a great perspective on what’s coming next in storytelling across platforms and they’ll also get the opportunity to really focus on the detail of their business plans. Plus you get to meet fantastic colleagues from all over Europe, and be looked after verywell by the fantastic course organisers Marc Robert and Sebastien Aubert– who could ask for more?!


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