US producer plans two more films in Oz

09 May, 2014 by Don Groves

Shooting his first film in Australia, fantasy/adventure The Moon and the Sun, US producer Bill Mechanic is so rapt with the Australian crew he’s keen to work with them again.

That may happen later this year as Mechanic plans to team again with LA-based Australian producer Paul Currie on 2:22, a thriller about an air traffic controller who investigates a mysterious flash of light. Currie will direct from a screenplay based on an original concept by Todd Stein and Nathan Parker.


And Mechanic hopes to shoot another film, WW2 drama Hacksaw Ridge, in Australia next year.

The Moon and the Sun stars Pierce Brosnan, William Hurt, Fan Bing Bing, Kaya Scodelario, Benjamin Walker, Ben Lloyd-Hughes and Pablo Schreiber, directed by Sean McNamara (Soul Surfer, Bratz, Raise Your Voice).

The $40 million film is shooting at the Docklands after two weeks at the Palace of Versailles in France, where the filmmakers were granted rare access to areas such as the Hall of Mirrors and the chapel.

Most of the crew is Australian including costume designer Lizzy Gardiner, production designer Michelle McGahey and hair and make-up designer Shane Thomas. Melbourne-based Luma is handling the visual effects.

“The Australian crew is world class; I would work with these people again on any film, not just ones shot in Australia, “ says Mechanic, a former CEO and chairman of Fox Studios and producer of Coraline.

Mechanic is producing with Currie, James Pang (Painted Skin 2) and Wei Han. Based on Vonda McIntyre’s fantasy novel, the screenplay is by Mechanic, Ron Bass (an Oscar winner for Rain Man), James Schamus (Brokeback Mountain, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Barry Berman (Benny & Joon) and Laura Harrington.

Brosnan plays King Louis XIV, who is determined to protect the future of France by reigning for all eternity. His search for immortality leads him to capture and steal the life force from a mermaid but his 18-year-old illegitimate daughter (Scodelario) discovers the mystical creature and strikes up a friendship with her.

Fan Bing Bing voices the mermaid, a Gollum-type digital creation in her likeness designed by the VFX team at Currie’s Lightstream Pictures.

Focus Features will release in the US. International sales agent Good Universe will show footage to prospective buyers at this month's Cannes Film Market. He envisions a US release next spring and a near-simultaneous roll-out in the rest of the world.

Mechanic says, ”This is an ambitious movie which we think will surprise people. We will let the movie do the talking. If a major studio had made it they would have spent $100 million.”

William Hurt, who replaced the originally cast Bill Nighy after the latter got the funding to produce and star in David Hare’s play Skylight with Carey Mulligan in London, plays the King’s spiritual advisor. “He has such gravitas,” says Currie. “He is tracking the story in every single element and he’s a great counter-point to Pierce’s King.”

Currie aims to start shooting 2:22 before the end of this year, probably with the backing of Good Universe.

Randall Wallace is writing the screenplay of Hacksaw Ridge, which chronicles the battle for Okinawa's Maeda Escarpment and the heroic actions of aid-man Private First Class Desmond Doss, for which he was decorated with the Medal of Honour.

Mechanic is in the process of lining up the director. Originally he was looking to shoot it in either Victoria, Queensland or New Zealand. After his happy experience with The Moon and the Sun, he says, “It’s a strong vote for Australia.”