Writer-director Kieran Darcy-Smith is juggling three projects to follow his debut feature Wish You Were Here; he just wishes he knew which will be the first to fall into place.
Darcy-Smith has cast Oscar Isaac and Max Minghella to play troubled Hispanic brothers in the 1980s-set crime drama Memorial Day, which he hopes to shoot in Florida next year. He's attached to direct By Way of Helena, the saga of a Texas Ranger and his Mexican bride who investigate a series of mysterious deaths in a frontier town. Also on his slate is a romance, title under wraps, for the Mark Gordon Co., the powerhouse American producer whose credits include Source Code, 2012, The Messenger and TV's Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice and Criminal Minds.
Beyond that, he's keen to direct a psychological thriller written by his wife, writer-actress Felicity Price, with whom he collaborated on Wish You Were Here. Also, he's completed the screenplay of the sequel to Tomorrow, When the War Began, based on the second and third of John Marsden's novels, for producer Andrew Mason and OmniLab Media, but he won't direct that.
“I'm trying to be patient about all of this,” Darcy-Smith tells SBS Film. “Which of these three projects becomes my second movie is an unknown. The second movie is really important and as it will be my first American film, I just want to get it right. ”
Eminent US producer Ted Hope and Aquarius Films' Angie Fielder will produce Memorial Day, Darcy-Smith's tale of two brothers who struggle to redress the fallout from a family tragedy. “It's got great cast attached already and we need a third cast member of significant status to get it over the line financially,” he says.
Mandeville Films' David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman hired Darcy-Smith to direct By Way of Helena, scripted by Matt Cook. “I've had meetings with incredible [potential] cast and we're still trying to determine who'll be in the movie to get it financed,” he says. “The reality is it needs a couple of A-list actors to get it over the line.”
He's reluctant to discuss the project set up at the Gordon Co. except to say, “It's a first-rate original screenplay, one of the best I've read and unlike anything else I've ever read. It's out to cast and it's good to go. There's a tonne of people that are interested in throwing money
The filmmaker who moved to Hollywood earlier this year has discovered one major difference between the US and Australian film industries. “In the US most directors have anywhere from three to eight projects that they are currently attached to,” he observes, asking rhetorically, “How do you say to one company, 'Sorry, that project that we've been working on for the last year or so I have to put aside for the next year while I make something where the elements fell into place more quickly?' That's a really hard thing to get my head around, the way the system works over there. I have limited myself to three, which is reasonable; I don't want to let anyone down.”
Felicity has completed the first draft of her screenplay, which he describes as a two-hander that is quite dark and confronting in tone, similar to the films of Michael Haneke and Dutch director George Sluizer's The Vanishing. She's approached a number of LA-based companies seeking funds to write a second draft. “She's had some amazing feedback from huge companies,” he says. “She'll find a development home and we'll take it from there.”
Darcy-Smith was one of many directors who signed on to direct segments of Sydney Unplugged, an ode to the city via a collection of short stories, which would mark the feature directing debuts of Russell Crowe, Toni Collette and Anthony LaPaglia.
Production was delayed after a French producer sued the Australian producers claiming their project infringes the copyright of his Cities of Love franchise. SBS understands the case will be heard in a French court this week.