September 7, 2018 - No Comments!

Toronto Interview: Tim Sutton

From Film Comment

By Amy Taubin

I walked into a pre-Toronto screening of Donnybrook unaware that Tim Sutton—director/writer of Pavilion (2012), Memphis (2013), and Dark Night (2016)—had written and directed this one too. “Haunting,” “ephemeral,” “lyrical” were adjectives I’d used when praising Sutton’s previous films, although I also remember Dark Night as etched with unspoken dread. Donnybrook, while speaking to the beauty of rural American landscapes as Sutton’s earlier work did, is a pulverizingly violent film. In the final scene, the central character explains to his daughter that the field in which they are standing was taken by the Union army in the Civil War. The daughter asks how the North did it, and her father says, “They fought for it. That’s what people like us do. We fight.” Adapted by Sutton from a nasty novel of the same name by Frank Bill, Donnybrook is set in Ohio’s backcountry, where making and dealing meth and homebrewed opioids is the one of only ways to survive. Another is cage fighting. Ohio may be Trump country, but the people in Donnybrook are beyond politics, not to mention voting, just as Kurtz in Apocalypse Now is beyond the military. Apocalypse Now came to mind as Jarhead Earl (Jamie Bell, astonishingly transformed) is ferried up the Ohio River to Donnybrook, where three dozen or so caged men go mano a mano until only one is left standing. But before that climactic scene, others are shot or tortured for twisted pleasure or profit. The film doesn’t exploit its characters or the audience. It simply shows what is—or given the way things are going—what soon could be. [I interviewed Sutton in advance of the world premiere of Donnybrook at Toronto.]

Like Dark Night, Donnybrook is about what in the Sixties we called the war at home and how, in part, people who go to war overseas bring the fight back with them.

War has always been here. It’s what the country was built on. David Lancaster, the film’s producer, offered me the book to adapt. With that came a bigger budget, a larger canvas. I’d never done an adaptation, but I found it natural because I’m from the country and I love crime fiction. My goal was to make it less a fight film and more a soulful film. I thought I could do it because Dark Night had the threat of violence and this film has the act of violence. I thought I could get these people from A to B in a realistic, soulful, emotional manner that has to do with the things I’ve been interested in for a long time: how people exist within a specific physical and emotional landscape. Where the movie comes from for me is a combination of early Malick, the end of Taxi Driver, and Apocalypse Now. I had Jamie Bell watch Apocalypse Now many times. Donnybrook is about a trip to the end of the world. It’s utter destruction.

Why did you cast Jamie Bell?

I remember watching him in Billy Elliot. And then after a long time I saw him again in a small role in the S&M scenes in Nymphomaniac. He’s a phenomenal actor. I felt like watching someone living in front of the camera. That’s what I’ve always done. Let people live in front of the camera. I say “action” and “cut” but what they do in between is up to them. We mold it and we shape it, but I never tell people exactly what to do. I say, here’s the scene, here’s the frame. The frame is obviously very important. But I care about the truth of the 45 seconds or the five minutes of the scene. Jamie was able to take that and go much further than the people I’d worked with in earlier films who were not actors.

But you must have choreographed the Donnybrook cage fighting scene and earlier action scenes.

Yes, of course. But take Frank and Margaret in the car together. [Frank Grillo plays a serial killer and Margaret Qualley plays his opiated-addled sister.] The only direction I gave is that she should sense that something bad is going to happen to her because she’s been through it before. But what happens between them—the violence and then the hug afterwards—is up to them. What I care about is creating a sense of intimacy between the actors. There is a script but I never think about bringing it to life. It’s a platform for the actors, to get them involved and help them express their ideas so that they can bring the film to life. But I never think of bringing the script to life.

Do you rehearse?

It depends on what the actors need. But not much. I usually shoot four or five takes including the rehearsal take. And then I walk away. I don’t have the money to shoot more. But from Pavilion on, I’ve found that what you get early is most alive. I don’t do lots of coverage. I’m not trying to get something perfect. I’m trying to get something essential, and that’s more a gut feeling.

What did you shoot on?

An Alexa Mini with Arriflex lenses. We used three lenses. They were all wide. In the past I had much more depth of field and more of a painterly thing, but here I wanted the landscape to feel vast so when you get to the cage fight at the end, there’s no way out.

Who is the cinematographer?

David Ungaro. He’s French and he can do lots of different things—a Thai boxing movie, Mary Shelley. He actually taught me how to manage a set. He’s great.

I was so moved at the end to the film when Jarhead explains to his daughter that people like them have to fight for everything they need.

Yes, he may have gotten a piece of the Donnybrook prize money, but he’ll never get the whole pie. It’s always more loss than winning. I wanted to include “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the beginning of the Donnybrook fight scene, because when she sings “land of the free and the home of the brave,” you are looking at fighting in a cage. And that’s my observation about the state of things. It is a dark, angry, confused place out there that we only know part of. And I’m not making a judgment. I care for everyone in the film. But this is an angry, scary time in this country. And that’s why I wanted to show the Donnybrook. It’s out there, like Kurtz is out there in Apocalypse Now.

And is the Donnybrook real or is it allegorical?

Do Donnybrooks happen exactly like that? I did a lot of research on bareknuckle fighting. The closest to it I saw were these bareknuckle brawls in Russia. I didn’t find anything that was that big a brawl in the United States. But you accept giant Armageddon-like movies for 20 years, and then you’re shocked when someone blows up a building. And the UFC—the cage fighting on TV—is more popular than boxing, which I think is barbaric too. It’s a billion-dollar industry and some of it is cage fighting. We celebrate it on mainstream TV, just like football, which leaves all these people brain-dead. These are things that America celebrates and then we are aghast when that kind of violence leaks out into the real world.

September 6, 2018 - No Comments!

Mick Jagger Joins Heist Thriller ‘Burnt Orange Heresy’

From Variety

Mandatory Credit: Photo by PIERRE VILLARD/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock (9159615bc)
Mick Jagger
Rolling Stones in concert at U-Arena, Paris, France - 20 Oct 2017

By Dave McNary

Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger has joined Claes Bang and Elizabeth Debicki in director Giuseppe Capotondi’s thriller “The Burnt Orange Heresy.”

Jagger will portray an English art dealer-collector and patron of Jerome Debney, the reclusive J.D. Salinger of the art world.

Set in present-day Italy, “The Burnt Orange Heresy” centers on an art world scam that goes terribly wrong. Bang plays a beguiling art critic who begins a romance with an alluring American tourist, portrayed by Debicki. The new lovers travel to the lavish and opulent Lake Como estate that’s the home of Jagger’s character, who offers a seductive deal: in exchange for a career-transformative introduction to Debney, he must steal a new masterpiece from the artist’s studio.

“The Burnt Orange Heresy” is adapted by Scott B. Smith from the novel by Charles Willeford. Executive producers are Aeysha Walsh of MJZ and Stephanie Wilcox of Rumble Films. Producers are David Zander of MJZ, William Horberg of Wonderful Films and David Lancaster of Rumble Films. Production is set to start in Italy on Sept. 24.

The deal was announced Thursday, the opening day of the Toronto Intl. Film Festival. HanWay Intl. is handling sales. UTA Independent Film Group is managing the U.S. sale.

Jagger previously starred in 2001’s “The Man From Elysian Fields” alongside Andy Garcia, and also appeared in the 2008 film “The Bank Job.” He is represented by CAA.

August 8, 2018 - No Comments!

Jamie Bell Bare-Knuckle Fighting Drama ‘Donnybrook’ To Open TIFF Platform

From Screen Daily

By Jeremy Kay

The bare-knuckle fighting drama Donnybrook starring Jamie Bell and Frank Grillo will open 2018 Toronto International Film Festival’s (TIFF) Platform, while Jessica Forever from debutants Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel will close the section.

The 12 films in the festival’s fourth annual juried programme include new work from Karyn Kusama, Alex Ross Perry, Ho Wi Ding, Alejandra Márquez Abella and Carol Morley.

The line-up includes four features directed or co-directed by women, while seven feature strong female lead roles. The roster includes what TIFF director and CEO Piers Handling described as “transformative” portrayals of detectives by Nicole Kidman in Destroyer and Patricia Clarkson in Out Of Blue.

Hailing from the Americas, Europe and China, every selection in Platform except Kusama’s Destroyer and Emir Baigazin’s The River will receive their world premiere in Toronto.

“It’s a programme that’s designed to put the focus on adventurous talent,” said Handling, adding that the roster of mostly third and fourth-time filmmakers “deserve further prominence”.

“More and more sales agents have been asking us about [Platform] and want to be there,” he continued. “The curation of the programme is very strong. We feel very confident about… telling filmmakers there’s a programe that will celebrate [vision] at a time when it’s getting harder and harder for films like this to find financing.”

Platform’s three-person jury will present the winner with a CAD $25,000 award [USD $19,200] funded by Air France. Highlights from previous years include Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, Armando Iannucci’s The Death Of Stalin, Pablo Larraín’s Jackie and Lady Macbeth. TIFF runs from September 6-16.

The Platform 2018 line-up:

Angelo (Austria-Luxembourg), dir. Markus Schleinzer
World premiere

Cities Of Last Things (Taiwan-China-US-France), dir. Ho Wi Ding
World premiere

Destroyer (US), dir. Karyn Kusama
International premiere

Donnybrook (US), dir. Tim Sutton
World premiere
Platform Opening Film

The Good Girls (Las Niñas Bien, Mexico), dir. Alejandra Márquez Abella
World premiere

Her Smell (US), dir. Alex Ross Perry
World premiere

The Innocent (Switzerland-Germany), dir. Simon Jaquemet
World premiere

Jessica Forever (France), dirs. Caroline Poggi, Jonathan Vinel
World premiere
Platform Closing Film

Mademoiselle de Joncquières (France), dir. Emmanuel Mouret
World premiere

Out Of Blue (UK), dir. Carol Morley
World premiere

The River (Kazakhstan-Poland-Norway), dir. Emir Baigazin
North American premiere

Rojo (Argentina-Brazil-France-Netherlands-Germany), dir. Benjamín Naishtat
World premiere.

April 24, 2018 - No Comments!

Claes Bang To Star In ‘The Burnt Orange Heresy’ For HanWay Films

From Screen Daily

By Tom Grater

Claes Bang, the breakout star of Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or-winning The Square, will play the lead in neo-noir thriller The Burnt Orange Heresy.

Bang joins Elizabeth Debicki and Christopher Walken in the project, which is being directed by Giuseppe Capotondi (The Double Hour).

HanWay Films is handling international rights and will introduce the film to buyers in Cannes. UTA Independent Film Group is managing the US sale.

Set in Italy in 1970, The Burnt Orange Heresy follows an American art critic (Bang) who hooks up with a provocative woman who is touring Europe (Debicki). The new lovers travel to the Lake Como estate of an art collecting lawyer (a role still being cast) where the critic is offered a seductive deal – in exchange for a career-transforming introduction to Jerome Debney (Walken), the J.D. Salinger of the art world, he must steal a new masterpiece from the artist’s studio for the lawyer’s personal collection.

Scott B. Smith has written the screenplay, adapted from a novel by Charles Willeford. Producers are David Zander of MJZ (Spring Breakers), William Horberg (The Kite Runner) through his company Wonderful Films, and David Lancaster (Whiplash) through Rumble Films. Aeysha Walsh from MJZ and Stephanie Wilcox from Rumble Films are serving as executive producers.

The film is in pre-production ahead of a shoot this summer in Italy.

HanWay Films MD Gabrielle Stewart commented: “It is a luxury to get the perfect casting for a film, and even more thrilling to see a sexy pairing come together, like Elizabeth Debicki and Claes Bang. They are two of the most desirable international rising stars and pitch perfect leads for Capotondi’s Italian set thriller.”

Bang is represented by UTA, by Sharkey & Co in the UK and Ute Bergian in Germany. The actor’s upcoming roles include The Girl In The Spider’s Web alongside Claire Foy.

Also on HanWay’s Cannes slate is Lone Scherfig’s New York Project (previously known as Secrets From The Russian Tea Room), Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Sundance award winner Monsters And Men, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s Farming starring Damson Idris, Kate Beckinsale and Gugu Mbatha-Raw; and Kim Nguyen’s high-speed drama The Hummingbird Project starring Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, and Salma Hayek.

January 26, 2018 - No Comments!

‘Semper Fi’: Jai Courtney, Finn Wittrock, More Join Nat Wolff For Crime Thriller – Berlin

From Deadline

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9308459ar)
Jai Courtney poses for photographers upon arrival at the 7th annual AACTA International Awards at the Avalon, in Los Angeles
7th Annual AACTA International Awards - 05 Jan 2018

By Nancy Tartaglione

EXCLUSIVE: Suicide Squad‘s Jai Courtney has been set to star with Nat Wolff in Henry-Alex Rubin’s crime thriller Semper Fi. From Sparkhouse Media and Rumble Films, the project has further added Finn Wittrock, Beau Knapp, Arturo Castro and Leighton Meester. Principal photography starts February 1 in Louisiana. Cornerstone Films is handling international sales with UTA and CAA co-repping domestic.

RelatedSteven Soderbergh’s 'Unsane' Added to Berlin Film Festival Competition
Murderball director Rubin is helming from a script he wrote with Sean Mullin. The story sees Courtney as Cal, a by-the-book police officer who makes ends meet as a Marine Corps reservist along with his rowdy and inseparable group of childhood friends. When Cal’s younger, reckless half-brother Oyster (Wolff) accidentally kills a guy in a bar fight and tries to flee, Cal forces him to face the music.

After an unfair sentence, Oyster fights for survival in a dangerous Pennsylvania prison system while Cal and his friends are deployed to fight the lethal insurgency in Iraq. Overseas, Cal’s world is shaken, and after he barely makes it home alive, he resolves to break Oyster out of prison — no matter the cost.

American Horror Story’s Wittrock, Sand Castle’s Knapp and Narcos’ Castro are the gang that rally to his side in a bare-knuckled prison break to right the injustice.

Semper Fi is produced by Sparkhouse’s Karina Miller (To the Bone) and Oscar nominee David Lancaster (Whiplash) of Rumble Films. Sparkhouse Media is financing. Cornerstone’s Mark Gooder and Alison Thompson will be talking up the project at the EFM in Berlin next month. The project was first announced in Cannes last year with Sam Claflin attached; he later exited due to a scheduling conflict.

Additional talent lined up for Semper Fi includes cinematographer David Devlin (Monster, Madonna: Rebel Heart Tour), production designer Chris Stull (Machete) and costume designer Christina Flannery (Left Behind).

Courtney is repped by UTA, Mark Morrissey & Associates and Silver Lining Entertainment; Wittrock is with CAA and Weissenbach Management; Castro is repped by WME and Avalon Entertainment; Meester is at UTA; Knapp with CAA and Luber Roklin; and Wolff looked after by CAA, Untitled Entertainment and Definition Entertainment.

October 31, 2017 - No Comments!

Sierra / Affinity Acquires International Rights To ‘Donnybrook’

From Screen Daily

By Jeremy Kay

Sierra/Affinity has acquired international sales rights to Rumble Films and Backup Media’s drama Donnybrook to star Frank Grillo and Jamie Bell.

Nick Meyer plans a full sales launch in 2018 on the noir adaptation, styled as a backwoods version of Fight Club meets No Country For Old Men about a down-at-heel family man who enters a bare-knuckle brawl with a $100,000 purse. Margaret Qualley and James Badge Dale also star.

Rumble Films chief David Lancaster reunites with Meyer after they worked together on Drive, Nightcrawler and Whiplash while Lancaster was at Bold Films.

Principal photography is currently underway in Cincinnati on the project, which is fully financed by Paris-based Backup Media. UTA Independent Film Group represents US rights.

Writer-director Tim Sutton (Dark Night, Memphis) adapted the screenplay from Frank Bill’s 2013 novel of the same name. Lancaster produces with Stephanie Wilcox of Rumble Films, and Backup Media.

“We are delighted to be working with David again,” Sierra/Affinity CEO Meyer said. “Donnybrook is right in his producing wheelhouse of delivering high quality elevated genre films and we can’t wait to bring Tim’s vision of this muscular and gritty world to a global audience.”

October 17, 2017 - No Comments!

Frank Grillo, Jamie Bell To Star In Indie ‘Donnybrook’

From Variety


By Justin Kroll

Frank Grillo, Jamie Bell, Margaret Qualley, and James Badge Dale are set to star in the indie pic “Donnybrook.”

Tim Sutton is writing and directing.

Production starts on Oct. 23 in Cincinnati. Backup Media is fully financing the film. UTA Independent Film Group is representing North American rights.

Adapted from Frank Bill’s 2013 noir novel of the same name, the film follows a man hard up for cash and determined to support his family competes in the Donnybrook, a legendary, bare-knuckle brawl where a $100,000 prize goes to the last man standing.

The film is produced by David Lancaster along with Stephanie Wilcox of Rumble Films, together with Backup Media. This is the third feature in the last two years that the two companies have made together after Fabrice du Welz’s “Message From the King” and Evan Katz’s “Small Crimes.”

October 17, 2017 - No Comments!

Frank Grillo, Jamie Bell, Margaret Qualley To Star in ‘Donnybrook’

From Screen Daily

By Jeremy Kay

David Lancaster’s Rumble Films and Paris-based Backup Media have signed Frank Grillo, Margaret Qualley, James Badge Dale and Jamie Bell to star in Donnybrook.

Production is scheduled to begin on October 23 in Cincinnati. Backup Media is fully financing the film and reunites with Rumble after Message From The King and Small Crimes. UTA Independent Film Group represents North American rights.

Donnybrook is based on Frank Bill’s 2013 noir novel of the same name about a down-at-heel family man who enters a legendary bare-knuckle contest where the last man standing wins $100,000.

Sutton wrote and directed Sundance and Venice 2016 selection Dark Night as well as 2013’s Memphis.

Lancaster is producing with Stephanie Wilcox of Rumble Films alongside with Backup Media, whose new films this year include Submergence and Promised Land.

CAA and Management 360 represent Grillo. Qualley is handled by UTA and Management 360. CAA and MJ Management represent Dale. Bell is represented by UTA and Artists Independent Management.

October 17, 2017 - No Comments!

Frank Grillo, Jamie Bell To Topline ‘Donnybrook’

From Deadline


By Amanda N'Duka

Kingdom star Frank Grillo has been tapped to star in brawl film Donnybrook, along with Fantastic Four‘s Jamie Bell, Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers), and James Badge Dale (Only The Brave). From writer and director Tim Sutton, the film is an adaptation Frank Bill’s 2013 noir novel of the same name. Described as a backwoods version of Fight Club meets No Country For Old Men, the story follows a man, in order to support his family, competes in the Donnybrook, a legendary, bare-knuckle brawl where a $100,000 prize goes to the last man standing. David Lancaster (Whiplash) and Stephanie Wilcox of Rumble Films are producing with Paris-based Backup Media (Submergence), who is fully financing the project. UTA Independent Film Group is reps North American rights. Production commences next week. Grillo is repped by CAA and Management 360; Bell by UTA and Artists Independent Management; Qualley by UTA and Management 360; Dale by CAA and MJ Management.

May 20, 2017 - No Comments!

Nat Wolff Joins Sam Claflin In Henry-Alex Rubin’s Crime-Thriller ‘Semper Fi’

From Variety

By Leo Barraclough

Nat Wolff (“Fault in our Stars,” “Death Note”) has been cast in Academy Award-nominated director Henry-Alex Rubin’s (“Murderball”) crime-thriller “Semper Fi.”

The script was written by Rubin and Sean Mullin and will be produced by Academy Award-nominated David Lancaster (“Whiplash,” “Nightcrawler”) of Rumble Films and Karina Miller (“To the Bone”) from Sparkhouse Media. Cornerstone Films is shopping the project to buyers in Cannes and CAA co-represents the U.S. rights.

Sam Claflin (“The Hunger Games”) leads the cast as Hopper, and Wolff joins as his younger brother Oyster.

Hopper is “a straitlaced cop who fills his downtime as a sergeant in the Marine Corps reservists alongside a close-knit team of life-long friends,” according to a statement. “A rowdy but inseparable bunch of guys, they look out for each other no matter what, including keeping an eye out for Hopper’s younger, reckless brother Oyster.”

When Oyster accidentally kills a man in a bar-room brawl and tries to flee town Hopper stops him and forces him to face the music.

“Wracked with guilt at leaving his brother locked up in jail, Hopper and his buddies are deployed to Iraq,” the statement continued. “Battle-weary, he returns home to discover Oyster’s final court appeal has been rejected. No longer willing to live with his guilt, Hopper resolves to save his brother by breaking him out of prison, no matter what the cost. But he can’t do it alone. [His buddies] Jaeger, Daddy and Snowball rally to his side to set right an injustice that can no longer be ignored.”

Rubin commented: “I’ve been watching Nat’s performances over the past few years and he reminds me of young DiCaprio — he’s highly likeable yet always mischievous and unpredictable.”

Miller also noted: “Oyster is a deliciously complex character — he’s part dreamer, part rebel, part man and part boy. His emotional arc is so engaging and extreme that I can’t help but get excited by the thought of watching an actor with Nat’s talent bring this character to life.”

Wolff is represented by CAA, Untitled Entertainment and Definition Entertainment.