REPORT: Frontières@Brussels 2015
by David González
A report on the projects that were pitched at Frontières 2015, the international co-production market for genre films in Europe
The Frontières International Co-Production Market is the first and only co‐production market to connect North America with Europe in an environment specifically focused on genre-film production and financing. The event marks its return to Brussels with an expanded Frontières line‐up that has allowed more projects to participate in live pitching sessions, as well as specialised spotlights (the Market Spotlight and the Seeking Director Spotlight projects) that have brought together the best in genre-film projects and industry initiatives from around the world.
Alexandre O Philippe's 78/52 (photo)
Fifty years after its initial release, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho still remains one of the biggest landmarks in film history and, especially, in horror film history. The master's masterpiece is the subject of investigation in Philippe's documentary 78/52, which, remarkably, will focus only on the most famous shower scene in the film. Kerry Deignan Roy, from US-based Exhibit A Pictures, is producing the film, which will include exhaustive research into the film's production and direction decisions, as well as interviews with film-related celebrities. The movie, budgeted at $500,000, is scheduled to start production in the summer, to be ready for 2016's festival circuit, and will attempt to follow in the footsteps of meta-documentaries such as Room 237 and Jodorowsky's Dune. Already partnered with Kinosmith, the project was looking for co-producers, financiers and distributors across European territories.
Giovanni Bufalini's Beware of the Dog
Italian filmmaker Bufalini is at the development stage for his project Beware of the Dog. The film recounts the journey of two American girls on holiday in Italy, as they meet two young Italian brothers in Umbria, and then come across a couple of country psychos burnt by the sun and lusting for blood. The film will adopt the style of the teenage horror movies, tinged with survival stories, and is inspired by other titles such as Hostel, Deliverance and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The film is budgeted at €415,000 (€185,000 is already in place) and is looking forward to going into production in September, in order to be ready for next year's markets (namely, Berlin's EFM). Video post-production company Grande Mela is already on board, and producers Mario Lanti and Alan Vele, from Italian outfit Al One Srl, were looking for partners, co-producers and financiers.
Jean-Luc Herbulot's Döner (photo)
An action flick, a romance film and a thriller all in one - this is what French director Herbulot wants to shoot in his new project, Döner. The filmmaker behind Dealer is now focusing on a story that takes place in a kebab restaurant, over just one night, where regular people get trapped as they are surrounded by a criminal-gang battle. The film, heavily influenced by 1980s-style action/gore flicks, is attempting to make a pun on the usual “diner” setting in the American imaginary, by replacing it with a “döner”. Herbulot and his producer, Alexis Perrin, from French-based Rumble Fish Productions, have budgeted their film (which will include a huge character massacre) at €1,750,000, and are now at the financing stage. Döner was looking for co-producers from Belgium or Luxembourg, as well as partners at every stage of the making of the film, which will include a multicultural (French, Albanian, Chinese) cast.
Johnny Kevorkian's Georgie (photo)
Georgie has recurring dreams of a terrible event from her childhood, and when her grandmother dies, she is left alone to deal with her trauma. This is the log line for Kevorkian's new film, after he wrote, produced and directed his feature film The Disappeared. This highly cinematic film, in his own words, will tackle genre the way other films such as Let the Right One In did. The British filmmaker is teaming up with producer Gerry Maguire of Pins & Needles Media, and the film already finds itself at the development stage. Budgeted at £1,100,000, the team was seeking to identify European or North American co-production partners to bring 20% of the financing scheme, a Canadian production partner and sales agents.
Eugene Garcia's Jessie's Demons
Canadian director Garcia ventures into a more genre-tinged film style with this project, Jessie's Demons. His gritty style was already shown off in his previous films (such as 2012's Uncontrollable), and now he plans on shooting his take on the story of a girl whose penchant for taking things too far leads to murder and madness. With inspirations ranging from Repulsion to Silent House, and a lead actress (Tiio Horn) already cast, Garcia and producer Anne-Marie Gélinas (of EMAFilms, which premiered its latest film, Turbo Kid, at Sundance 2015 after taking it to the Montréal Frontières market in 2012 - read the interview) plan on shooting the title at the end of the summer. Budgeted at $600,000, the film has already got 75% confirmed, and is looking for partners in Canada and pre-sales to complete the packaging.
Érik Canuel's On the Threshold
Canuel is one of the most relevant film directors from Québec. Having made his first feature film in 2001 (The Pig's Law), he achieved great success with his Bon Cop Bad Cop in 2006 (the highest grossing Canadian film of all time, for which he received 10 Genie nominations and 12 Jutra nominations), and is now about to start filming his new project, On the Threshold. The movie is a remake of his fellow countryman Éric Tessier's Sur le seuil, adapted from Patrick Senécal's bestselling novel, a dark film following the obsession of a doctor and his daughter with a horror novelist. The title, budgeted at $11,870,000 CAD, is at the financing stage and was hoping to find European co-production. The producer behind Canuel's film is Nicole Robert, of Montréal-based Go Films.
Tricia Lee's One Drop
One Drop tells the story of a single mother who overdoses and later finds out that everyone is dead - and she's nine months pregnant. A survival story focusing on the struggle against both the world of the dead and the world of the living, Lee's new film following 2014's psychological horror drama, Clean Break, is at its packaging and financing stage. Lee, also a producer with her own outfit, A Film Monkey Production, has already partnered with a Canadian distributor (LevelFilm) and executive producers Briggite Kingsley and Michael Baker, and has some cast members in place. The budget of the film is $750,000 CAD, while around $250,000 has already been raised by equity. The film was looking for financiers, co-producers, distributors and sales agents.
Léo Médard's Orphea
A contemporary and fantastic reinterpretation of the famous myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, Belgian filmmaker Médard's first feature, Orphea, comes in the wake of a series of short films. Basing his work on a script by Dick Tomasovic, adapting the myth to a psychological horror story about a couple struggling with fear and mysteries, the Liège-born filmmaker cites film references such as Jacob's Ladder. Budgeted at €2,000,000, the movie is produced by Nicholas George of Les Films du Carré, a new company based in the Pôle Image de Liège that has produced films like Fara Sene's Être. Orphea was looking for international buyers and national and international partners in co-production, with the aim of becoming a French-Luxembourgish-Belgian co-production. The film is at the development stage.
Steven Sheil's Sinners
British filmmaker Sheil's new project, Sinners, focuses on a damaged young woman from a Christian fundamentalist cult (a kind of Scottish version of the Westboro Church) who meets a mysterious stranger with whom she goes on a killing spree targeting modern-day sinners. A modern reworking of the 19th-century classic novel The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg, which inspired The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Sheil's psychological horror film was aiming to find a French co-production partner on the project, as well as a sales agent, distributor and interested financiers. David Murdoch, also co-writer of the film, is producing for Glasgow-based Sinner Films. The budget of Sinners is £600,000, and it has already cast Rosie Daly (The Seasoning House).
Casey Walker's Skin and Bones
The genre of historical horror has not yet been explored to its full potential, as Toronto-based Walker wants to demonstrate with his fresh take on it. Skin and Bones will tackle the story of an American mercenary during the decline of the fur-trade era (late 18th century and early 19th century), who must survive the change by struggling and fighting against an ancient evil. This supernatural force, responsible for causing carnage in a Native village, follows him and his trading party to unexpected places. The film is written and produced by Walker himself for his own US-based outfit Cave Painting Pictures. The budget is $2,400,000 CAD, and some of it has already been invested as development funds by Telefilm Canada. Walker is looking for around $800,000, and also for European co-production partners.
Kevan Tucker's Spare (photo)
The world of modelling can be both a place for beauty and a place for horror. In Spare, US writer-director Tucker delves into this world through the character of a struggling model who discovers she has a more successful doppelganger, only to kidnap her and begin using her body for spare parts. The creepy story could be seen as a follow-up to Tucker’s recent short film, Ideal, set in the same world. The project, budgeted at $1,355,000, is produced by Andrew Corkin (of Martha Marcy May Marlene fame, among others), for US-based Uncorked Productions, as well as by attached producers Tim O’Neill, Jared Parsons and Bryan Reisberg. The movie's script is already at the late development stage, and the team is looking forward to starting production in spring 2016, to release it on the festival circuit in 2017.
Dominique Rocher's The Night Devoured the World
After going to a party where he starts to feel bad, a young man sinks into a deep sleep, only to wake up some time later to find that all the party-goers (and everyone else on Earth) have turned into zombies. French filmmaker Rocher tells this story in his first feature, The Night Devoured the World, after having directed a series of short films. Carole Scotta (who has already produced other genre outings such as French TV series The Returned - read the interview) is producing for Haut et Court, the French production company behind hits such as Coco Before Chanel and the Palme d’Or winner The Class. The distribution branch of the company has already stepped in as a partner for this movie budgeted at €4,304,224, which is presently at the financing stage. The project was looking for partners from French-speaking countries such as Belgium and Canada.
Andrew Desmond's The Sonata (photo)
The Sonata tells the story of a young virtuoso violinist who is informed of the sudden death of her long-lost composer father, after which she inherits an old mansion in France in which he used to live, only to trigger dark forces that reach beyond her imagination… The film is the first feature by London-born Desmond, already known for his multi-awarded sci-fi short film Entity. Produced by Laurent Fumeron and Rodolphe Sanzé for Paris-based company The Project, the film has already got co-producers on board, such as Russia’s CTB Film Company (through Daniel Goroshko), and a number of others are in talks, including firms in the UK. The film is budgeted at €2,000,000 and is completing financing right now, while hoping to shoot in early 2016 in order to be ready by late 2016. The project was looking for additional European partners.
John Harrison's Ubu
Ubu Roi, the infamous 1896 theatrical play by Alfred Jarry, was presented in Paris to a riotous response in the audience because of its boundary-pushing and surrealist nature. Centuries later, a young expatriate American in Paris wants to stage a revival of the play, entering a tailspin that leads him to lose his main actress, see cast members injured and even be committed to a sanatorium. Veteran filmmaker Harrison, who began his career collaborating with famed horror director George A Romero, wishes to shoot his new film (while he develops the TV series Residue, a Netflix original mini-series) in the French capital. The film is budgeted at $7-9,000,000 and is being produced by Wojtek Jerzowski, for Polish-based outfit Black Rabbit. The movie, which already has a completed screenplay, was looking for financing and production partners.
Moritz Mohr's Viva Berlin!
Not a lot of films are tagged as “party horror drama”. Viva Berlin! certainly is, and it’s a very accurate tag - it’s described as Trainspotting meets 28 Days Later. The film tells the story of a group of international young dropouts partying hard in Berlin, until they have to cope with a dangerous new infection that turns the infected into mindless, crazy freaks. German director Mohr is adapting his movie from his previous 40-minute mini-series that satirically depicted the Berlin party generation. The film’s budget is $5,000,000, will be filmed in English and is produced by Benjamin Munz for Germany’s Rat Pack Filmproduktion, with producer Christian Becker also attached. The team wants to start production in late 2016, in order to complete the film in one year, and for this, they were looking for co-production, financing and sales partners.
Lorcan Finnegan's Vivarium
Irish director Finnegan’s second feature film, following Without Name and a raft of short films, is Vivarium. In it, a young couple find themselves trapped in a vast housing estate and are forced to take up residence in a sick simulacrum of suburban living, until the mockery of family life is stretched to breaking point and the chain of events that follows reveals the horrific truth beneath the vivarium. The director wants to portray the domestic horrors of the new, environmentally conscious society. The film, produced by Brendan McCarthy and Deirdre Levins for Fantastic Films (Last Days on Mars, recent genre hit Let Us Prey), and with John McDonnel as an attached producer, is budgeted at €2,000,000 and is at the pre-financing stage. The title was looking for co-production partners and financiers.
As mentioned above, this year, Frontières also included two specialised spotlights. One of them, the MARKET SPOTLIGHT, was created in partnership with the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival's European Genre Forum and Ventana Sur's Blood Window, and selected four projects: Santiago Alvarado's Fuck the World, Raphael Hernandez's Ickerman, David Muñoz and Adrián Cardona's Once Upon a Time in Jerusalem, and Akseli Tuomivaara's White Point. In the meantime, the other focus, the SEEKING DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT, presented three projects: Phanta Film's Damnation Island, Six Island Productions' The Hag and Tailored Films' The Lodgers.