US, Australian deals for Aussie WW1 drama

Grindstone Entertainment has acquired North American rights to Forbidden Ground, an Australian WW1 movie co-directed by Johan Earl and Adrian Powers.

Shot in Sydney and Dubbo, NSW, the self-funded movie focuses on three British soldiers who find themselves stranded in No Man's Land in 1916 France after a failed charge. The leads are played by Earl, who wrote the screenplay, Tim Pocock and Martin Copping. The supporting cast includes Denai Gracie (who also produces with Earl), Sarah Mawbey and Barry Quin.

Michael Favelle’s Odin’s Eye Entertainment, who negotiated the deal with Grindstone, will distribute the film in Australia. Grindstone has an output deal with Lionsgate Home Entertainment, which will release the action/drama on all media platforms in the US but it won’t get a cinema airing.

In Australia Favelle plans to launch Forbidden Ground in three or four capital cities and in regional areas later this year but he hasn’t firmed a date yet. Pinnacle will handle the DVD and digital rights via its output deal with Odin’s Eye.

This is Earl’s second writing and directing effort following the 1999 action-drama Theory of the Trojans (co-directed with Melanie Cavin and Michael Massen). He also wrote and starred in the 2010 thriller Perfect Life, directed by Jith Sen.

Powers makes his debut as a feature director. His short film, Scruples, which featured Johan, was selected from among 15,000 entries as a finalist for Your Film Festival, a collaboration between YouTube and Ridley Scott; it screened at the 2012 Venice International Film Festival.

Odin’s Eye pre-sold the film on the basis of a three-minute promotional video to Momentum/eOne in the UK, China Star Alliance, and Dutch FilmWorks for the Benelux territories.

At the Cannes Film Market Favelle closed deals for German-speaking Europe (Pandastorm); Scandinavia (Atlantic), Japan (Epcott), and Encore (airlines).

The low-budget film was financed partly using the profits from Earl’s pyrotechnics and explosives business Armzfx, which provided 300 kg of explosives so most of the explosions depicted are real, not created by CGI. The battle scenes were shot on a farm in Dubbo and old buildings in Sydney substituted for wartime London.

Currently Odin's Eye is distributing Du Jiayi’s Chinese/Taiwanese adventure drama One Mile Above in a limited number of Australian cinemas. The film opens today in the US in partnership with Milt Barlow's Asian Releasing.