Exclusive to Screen International for Publication Monday 05 February 2018
How to Sell a War - the fiction feature film debut of leading international documentary director Rudolph Herzog has announced start of shoot dates. 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) in co-production with Georgia’s 20 Steps.with key financing from the UK’s Quickfire and Helsinki-based IPR.VC. Shooting will begin on March 16 in Georgia.
London 2018 – In a few days time, the Piece Of Peace global charity concert is due to take place led by the vein and arrogant Irish rock star, Harry Hope and his over-confident PR consultant, Kate. When Russian 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 (The IT Crowd, The Boat That Rocked) 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.
“This is our sixth collaboration with 20 Steps in Georgia and is the sixth project that has been produced through our Dublin-based outfit since setting it up two years ago,” says Film and Music Entertainment CEO and EFA Deputy Chair Mike Downey, “and we are delighted with the results. Talent driven world cinema at its best. How To Sell a War is a movie that is rooted very much in our contemporary world. Rudolf and Tim have a killer sense of humour, and the chemistry between Katherine and Lily packs an explosive punch. It’s a Piece of Peace!”
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.
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.
“It's really exciting to be producing How to Sell a War at the present time.” says Fame’s Samantha Taylor, “Katherine and Lily, our extremely talented lead actors, play two very funny women who stick it to the bully man, news-fakers, and to celebrity bullshit in general. With Rudolph directing a blazing script from Tim Price this is going to be a brilliant comedy trip. No one is safe. To paraphrase, humour isn’t about appeasing the patriarchy but rolling over it in an armoured car. We’re also very happy to be working for the fourth time with 20 Steps in Georgia and with Windmill Lane for the first. With this, and the support of IPR.VC, Quickfire, Bankside, GNFC, we are unstoppable.”
Fame 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.
“We are thrilled to be bringing this whip-smart comedy to worldwide buyers.” Says Bankside Films Director Stephen Kelliher, “It is an incredibly timely piece which speaks to the world we live in today. We feel sure that its laugh-out-loud satire will resonate with international audiences and that the creative team will excel in bringing the ultimate story of fake news to the screen.”
Quickfire’s Jan Pace added:
“We're delighted to be working with such an accomplished creative team looking to deliver this smart, contemporary comedy. We've been following this project from an early draft, which gripped us with its irreverence and sharp instinct in highlighting our great collective political ineptitude to brilliant comedic effect. We cannot wait to see this rich cast of characters brought to life by the talented cast and the excellent Rudoph Herzog in his first comedy, and welcome working with producers as experienced and passionate as Mike and Sam on this project.”
The film will be shot by legendary German lenser 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.
Paul Ashton, Head of Film for Creative England whose Ashton’s executive producer credits at Creative England include Rachel Tunnard’s BIFA-winning feature debut Adult Life Skills, Justin Edgar’s upcoming feature The Marker and Jack Lowden-Martin McCann thriller Calibre remarked:
“It has been an absolute delight developing this project with FAME. I’ve been a fan of Tim Price’s work for a long time, and his collaboration with Rudolph Herzog has given life to an outrageously contemporary and deeply discomforting satire about war, politics, power, idealism and ‘fake news’. I cannot wait to see the finished film.”
Timo Argillander Managing Partner and Co-Founder of the IPR.VC fund added: “How to Sell a War is a perfect case for our content investment fund: a top-notch team tackles a theme so actual and important, and in a way that will reach big audiences all over the world.”
Filmed on location in in Georgia and Dublin, casting is handled in the UK by Wildman Hall. 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.