Mark Strong in ‘Deep State.’
After spending five months in Morocco and London directing Fox Networks’ espionage thriller Deep State, Robert Connolly plans to shoot a movie in another exotic location.
Connolly is attached to direct Jamaica, a comedy based on a Malcolm Knox novel which follows four wealthy Australians who travel to the Caribbean island to compete in a marathon relay swim.
English-based producer Rachel Connors is developing the project scripted by Melissa Bubnic with Connolly, with support from Screen Australia.
The plot takes a twist when there is a massive leak of files in the vein of the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers.
Connolly sees the film as completing the trilogy which started with The Bank in 2001 and continued with Three Dollars in 2005 and dealt with financial corruption and personal ethics respectively.
“Malcolm Knox’s book is an excellent satirical look into the heart of this world we live in where the 1 per cent are so rich but have lost their moral compass and are shaping the world,” he tells IF.
Connolly and Connors are working on a financing plan with the aim of moving into production quite soon.
The first original drama production from Fox Networks Group Europe and Africa, Deep State stars Mark Strong as Max Easton, a retired Secret Service operative and member of an elite British/American team called The Section.
He’s coaxed back into action to try to shut down an Iranian missile program. Game of Thrones’ Joe Dempsie plays Max’s estranged son Harry, who followed his father into the espionage world.
Connolly directed the first four episodes and co-creator/showrunner Matthew Parkhill directed the second lot of four. He read the script during a stopover in London. His agents at the UK-based Casarotto Marsh sent his 2009 political drama Balibo to Parkhill, he met Parkhill, was approved by Fox and within a week flew to Morocco.
“Set throughout the Middle East, the show is so of the moment, so political,” Connolly tells IF. “It has an interesting and complex point of view deep within the British and American military industrial complex. I think it will really surprise people in terms of its politics.”
Morocco doubled for Beirut, Tehran and France while the London shoot covered the British and Washington scenes. Connolly was delighted to work with a highly experienced crew whose key people had worked on shows such as The Night Manager, American Sniper and Green Zone.
The director admits he was a bit nervous before he met Strong but soon felt at ease, observing: “He has given an incredible performance and he’s a delightful man.”
The cast includes Karima McAdams (Fearless, Vikings) as Leyla Toumi, a smart and uncompromising intelligence operative.
Fox Networks Group Content Distribution controls the worldwide rights and the series may premiere on free-to-air broadcasters in some markets; an Australian deal is pending.
Also on his slate is The Dry a thriller scripted by Harry Cripps based on Jane Harper’s debut novel which centres on two murders 20 years apart in a small town in drought-stricken rural Australia. Connolly is developing that with producer Bruna Papandrea.
Yet another project in the works is Blueback, Connolly’s follow-up to Paper Planes which he is writing, adapted from the Tim Winton novel about a boy who befriends a giant groper. Winton has described the tome as a fable about saving the world’s oceans.
The prolific filmmaker is also developing a live-action/animated omnibus movie based on Alison Lester’s classic children’s novel Magic Beach. In an innovative approach, each of the 10 segments will be created by a different animator, yet to be named, a kind of toon counterpart to Tim Winton’s The Turning.