Film Constellation, the London-based company behind Cannes’ Un Certain Regard highlights “Joyland” and “Harka,” is set to ramp up its production pipeline with the launch of a dedicated banner in Paris and a raft of ambitious new projects.
Named Constellation Productions, the new outfit is on board to co-produce Quebecois director Jeremy Comte’s debut “Paradise” and Carmen Chaplin’s documentary feature “Charlie Chaplin: A Man of the World.”
Created by Fabien Westerhoff in 2016, Film Constellation kicked off its production activities two years ago and is now taking it to the next level to invest on more promising talents, as well as develop original projects. Edward Parodi, head of acquisitions at Film Constellation, will be working across acquisition and development for the sales and production outfits.
“The new production house is another step in that direction to develop original projects with historical talent relationships, and take an active part in international co-productions,” said Westerhoff, an industry veteran who previously headed the sales division at WestEnd Films and HanWay Film. “We are always on the lookout for exciting new talent to launch into the marketplace, regardless of language and country or origin,” added the French-German executive who is fluent in multiple languages.
Comte’s follow up to his Oscar-nominated short film “Fauve,” “Paradise” follows the story of two boys from distant continents who are trying to find the truth about their lost father. Set to shoot in Quebec and Africa in 2023, “Paradise” is being co-developed and co-produced by Westerhoff at Constellation Film, Julie Viez (“Harka”), and the topnotch American producers Sara Murphy (“Licorice Pizza”) and Ryan Zacharias (“A Chiara”), as well as Christina Piovesan for Elevation in Canada.
“Jeremy is a perfect example of the type of raw talent that we get excited about,” said Westerhoff. “He is the most singular new voice to come out of Canada in years, and we are thrilled to contribute to the film’s development and financing alongside such wonderful and esteemed partners,” said the exec.
“Chaplin: A Man of the World,” meanwhile, will shed light on Chaplin’s hidden gypsy roots and will weave some animation created by Submarine, the Dutch banner behind Richard Linklater’s “Apollo 10 ½.” Now filming in the South of France, the documentary is being co-produced by Nano Arrieta at Spain-based Atlantika Films, Westerhoff’s Constellation Productions and Femke Wolting at Submarine, with contributions from Tony Gatlif and Emir Kusturica, among others. “Chaplin: A Man of the World” is expected to hit the festival circuit during the first quarter of 2023.
“These exciting developments are the natural outcome of what we have been building as a tight-knit team over the years, which is to be very calibered and selective in our approach, exceeding targets and helping to launch new voices into the market,” said Parodi, a French-British executive who previously worked at Hanway and has been at Constellation Film since its launch. “Every film is the result of our shared ambition and passion to be at the intersection where art and commerce meets,” added Parodi.
Film Constellation is also upping its activities in packaging and financing, and particularly interested in investing more on genre and animation movies, for instance “The Last Dinosaur,” Ben Smith’s $10-million CGI adventure film co-produced by Red Star Entertainment, the company behind Sky Studios’s The Amazing Maurice. Parodi said “The Last Dinosaur” was a Disney-style animated feature for family audiences around the world. “There is an increased demand from international distributors for upscale theatrical family entertainment such as ‘The Last Dinosaur,” said Parodi.
Westerhoff is also set to executive produce the animated film “They Shot The Piano Player,” Fernando Trueba’s anticipated follow up to his Oscar-nominated “Chica & Rita” which was sold around the world by Constellation Films. “They Shot the Piano Player,” produced by Cristina Huete and Nano Arrieta, Les Films D’ici in France and Submarine in the Netherlands. The voice cast includes Jeff Goldblum who plays a New York music journalist investigating the tragic disappearance of young Brazilian piano virtuoso.
On the genre front, Constellation Films recently assembled the financing for and executive produced Taneli Mustonen’s English language haunted house movie “The Twin”. Produced by Aleksi Hivarinen’s Don Films in Finland, the movie is currently playing in more than 40 countries, including in the U.S. were it was released by RLJ/Shudder. This is Film Constellation’s econd collaboration with Don Films following the South by Southwest hit “Lake Bloom” in 2016. “‘The Twin’ enjoyed renewed success during the pandemic with US box office horror hit,” pointed out Westerhoff.
Back in London, the banner will also be expanding its executive producing and packaging operations. Westerhoff said “it was written into the company’s DNA to outgrow the classic sales model and provide our producers with in-house gap financing solutions combined with executive production packaging services.”
The executive said Film Constellation was now “playing an active role in getting films into production on most of the projects we board, increasingly assembling financing and packaging the films from script stage.”
Film Constellation has also been championing emerging filmmakers, for instance Saim Sadiq with “Joyland” which plays at Un Certain Regard, and Jamie Dack, a Cannes Cinefondation alumni, who won best director at Sundance with “Palm Trees and Power Lines.”
The company’s slate of packaged British projects going into production include “The Tutor,” Alice Troughton’s (“Baghdad Central,” “Doctor Who”)’s feature directorial debut which will star Oscar-nominated Richard E. Grant (“Gosford Park”), Julie Delpy (“Before Midnight”) and Daryl McCormack (“Peaky Blinders”). The movie was just bought by Bleecker Street for the U.S. and Focus Features for the rest of the world.
Another project set to start shooting this summer is “Dance First,” the anticipated Samuel Beckett biopic which will be directed by James Marsh (“The Theory of Everything”), and starring Gabriel Byrne (“Hereditary”), Aidan Gillen (“Game of Throne”), Fionn O’Shea (“Normal People”) and French actress Sandrine Bonnaire.
Parodi signed the project at script stage in early 2021 before any cast or financing was attached, and worked with British producer Michael Livingstone to set up the talent package. Film Constellation structured a U.K.-Hungary-Belgium co-production with established partners Proton and Umedia in Europe. The company pre-sold the film to Sky Originals in the U.K. and other leading distributors, as well as provided the gap financing.
“Co-productions between the U.K. and other European countries are indeed possible, especially when the IP has been developed out of the U.K.,” said Parodi, adding that “Constellation is a British company with a profoundly European DNA, uniquely positioned to propel our filmmakers onto the world stage.”