The New Zealand Film Commission and the Film Fund announced today that they are investing in a co-production to be shot in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Three UK investors are providing the majority of the financing. The principal investor is Aramid Entertainment, with Lipsync Productions and Screen East’s content investment fund.
The film, titled Dean Spanley, is to be produced by Aucklander Matthew Metcalfe, whose production credits include Nemesis Game and The Ferryman, and London-based New Zealander Alan Harris, who co-produced The Ferryman. There will be two executive producers: expatriate New Zealander Finola Dwyer (Starlight Hotel, Backbeat), and David Parfitt whose production Shakespeare in Love won an Academy Award.
Dean Spanley will be the second feature for New Zealand director Toa Fraser, whose first feature No. 2 has been sold to more than 20 countries by the NZFC’s sales agency NZ Film. This feature was praised by Time Magazine as “a richly-detailed post-colonial riff, mixing the simplicity of its sentiment with … a surprisingly sophisticated cinematic eye.” No. 2 won the Audience Prize at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Set in Edwardian England where men from the Colonies are not entirely to be trusted, Dean Spanley reveals just how deep the Englishman’s love for his dog can go. Fisk Senior has little time and less affection for his adult son but when the pair attend a lecture hosted by a cricket mad Indian Nawab they begin a strange journey that will eventually allow the old man to find his heart.
The title role will be played by Sam Neill, with Peter O’Toole and Jeremy Northam as the father and son, and Bryan Brown as the man from the Colonies.
The cinematographer will be Leon Narbey, who has photographed more than a dozen New Zealand feature films including the international hit Whale Rider. Production designer will be New Zealander Andrew McAlpine whose credits include Jane Campion’s The Piano and Roger Donaldson’s The Recruit.
The film’s editor will be Chris Plummer whose most recent credits are Black Sheep, No 2, and In My Father’s Den. The composer is to be Don McGlashan, whose music has featured in Out Of The Blue, An Angel At My Table, and Footrot Flats.
Dean Spanley has been written by Alan Sharp, a Scottish-born New Zealand resident whose credits include the 1995 British feature Rob Roy directed by Michael Caton-Jones, and the 1972 Hollywood feature Ulzana’s Raid directed by Robert Aldrich.
International sales will be handed by the NZFC’s sales agency NZ Film.