Grainger, Shawkat star in Sophie Hyde’s Dublin-set comedy ‘Animals’

Alia Shawkat and Holliday Grainger (Photo credit: Brocklehurst Productions)

English actress Holliday Grainger (My Cousin Rachel, Cinderella) and American Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development, Transparent) are playing the leads in Sophie Hyde’s female-driven comedy Animals.

Now shooting in Dublin, the official Irish/Australian co-production is adapted by Manchester-born writer Emma Jane Unsworth from her novel published in 2014.

Grainger and Shawkat play Laura and Tyler respectively, best friends and drinking buddies whose hedonistic existence is disrupted when Laura gets engaged to Jim, an ambitious pianist who decides to go teetotal. Emerging Irish actor Fra Fee plays Jim.

The producers are Hyde and Rebecca Summerton for Closer Productions and Sarah Brocklehurst and Cormac Fox for Vico Films.

Production investment comes from Screen Australia and the Irish Film Board (IFB), in association with the Adelaide Film Festival and the South Australian Film Corporation.

Post-production will be handled by Kojo in Adelaide. Bonsai Films will distribute in Australia and New Zealand and Cornerstone Films reps international sales.

Unsworth, Brocklehurst and Hyde started developing the project in March 2016.

“The main thing I’ve learned these past few years is that only passion really drives a project through – especially when it comes to films about women, by women,” Unsworth posted on Instagram.

“If you work with people who share your passion you are stronger than the bullshit, even in the toughest of industries. Go with your guts…and…keep going.”

Directing her second feature after 52 Tuesdays and the ABC series F***ing Adelaide, Hyde said: “Emma’s novel (and screenplay) is a celebration of a female friendship and an examination of being a modern woman, a woman with faults and longings, aspirations and competing desires.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with Holliday and Alia to bring two characters to the screen who are funny, disturbing, charming and nuanced. I am delighted to bring this Animals world to life with an exceptional team from both Ireland and Australia.”

Hyde and Summerton’s Closer Productions received Gender Matters Brilliant Careers funding from Screen Australia in 2016 to identify and support exceptional female voices.

Screen Australia head of production Sally Caplan said: “Sophie Hyde is a hugely promising talent who has demonstrated both her distinctive style and directorial agility with her captivating feature debut 52 Tuesdays and comedy series F***ing Adelaide.

“With Animals, Sophie and Rebecca have the chance to collaborate with their Irish production partners and capitalise on the immense opportunities presented by the official co-production program – a proven pathway to reaching international audiences.”

This is the first narrative feature since Australia’s co-production treaty with Ireland was signed in 1998. There have been five official co-productions – one TV miniseries, two children’s drama series, one feature-length documentary and one documentary series.

IFB CEO James Hickey said: “Led by unique and distinctive female creative filmmaking talent, we are also proud to help bring this complex and nuanced portrait of contemporary womanhood to screens around the world.”