Stepping into the director’s chair is a natural progression for any screenwriter, John Collee firmly believes.
The Scottish-born writer, who penned George Miller’s Happy Feet and Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, says it’s really the only way to control the material and make sure your vision comes out on the silver screen.
“The good thing about making films is it’s very collaborative, but the bad thing is you’re always, on some levels, always compromising,” Collee says from his Sydney home.
The Hopscotch Features co-founder is set to direct his first feature film, Black Honeymoon, as first reported by IF. He finished writing the script last year.
However he says it could be either months or even years away, depending on financing.
It’s a film that’s close to Collee’s heart, after the idea for the “kind of old-style Hitchcock thriller set in Africa” came about after a trip up the Congo River about a decade ago.
The plot follows a newlywed couple, who are pulled from Paris and then thrust deep into Congo where they are both in danger…especially from each other's darkest secrets.
Produced by Stephen Van Mil and Martin Brown through Impian Films and Martin Brown Films, the $10 million project is set to be filmed in Paris, France and Congo, Central Africa.
This is the film he wants to direct because it’s an original idea.
“It’s completely owned by me which is a rare and wonderful thing,” explains Collee.
“Because often in this business, you’re sort of writing from existing material that someone else owns and controls so it’s quite rare that you’ve generated it yourself.
“And that obviously is the way to go but you’ve got to have a punt…”
He says he's been wanting to direct for years but it's a hard ask because "ultimately you’re looking for someone to invest several millions of dollars in your vision of things. And as we know, most films make a loss, so that’s why it's difficult".
Collee has a number of projects currently on the go, including the $65 million feature Walking With Dinosaurs 3D, which is based on the popular BBC series. A co-production between BBC Earth and Reliance Big Entertainment, the film will be distributed by Fox. The animation and visual effects work will be carried out by Sydney's Animal Logic and it's set to be released in 2013.
He is also involved in another Impian Films project, which is also currently in development: The Drowner. Its proposed cast includes Cate Blanchett (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada), Liam Neeson (Unknown), James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class) and Barry Humphries (Finding Nemo). The budget is estimated between $50-60 million and Mad Max star Mel Gibson is set to be one of the producers. Based on a Robert Drewe novel of the same name, it's set to be filmed in Western Australia and the UK.