China’s Huayi Brothers is teaming with electronics giant Xiaomi on a joint venture into film production. This is Xiaomi’s first foray into the movie business and according to local reports, will focus on developing writing talent. “We want to promote screenwriting, and the significance of screenwriters to film projects,” said Xiaomi co-founder Tian Yusheng. The tech company is the latest on a list of new partners for the Middle Kingdom movie biz. Alibaba’s Jack Ma and internet giant Tencent recently teamed with Huayi to develop, produce and finance English language films. Xiaomi is one of the world’s largest makers of smartphones and was co-founded in 2010. It initially announced investment in the entertainment business in October last year saying it was backing nascent film studio New Saint which is the name of this new JV.
Elsewhere Works, the LA-based agency for non-American writers and directors working in the U.S. and internationally, has signed Belgium’s Thomas Gunzig and Spain’s Crostobal Garrido and Adolfo Valor. Gunzig is the co-writer of recent Golden Globe nominee The Brand New Testament. Garrido and Valor are creators of BBC Worldwide and Atresmedia’s drama The Refugees. Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox recently acquired English-language remake rights to the pair’s comedy Ghost Graduation. Garrido’s other credits include Spanish series Velvet, Gran Reserva, Grand Hotel, and Padres. Gunzig is working on projects created for the U.S. market which include psychological thriller Sad Madness and fantasy comedy A Matter Of Dreams. Elsewhere Works, founded by David Bellini and Olga Bernal Sancho in 2011, continues to steadily build its stable of offshore talent which includes largely European writers and directors.
ITV’s six-part drama Brief Encounters has set its principal cast including Sophie Rundle, Penelope Wilton, Angela Rooney and Sharon Griffin. Created and written by Fay Rusling and Oriane Messina, Brief Encounters is produced by CPL Productions. The 1980s-set story of four unlikely female entrepreneurs is inspired by the early days of the Ann Summers Party Plan business, a concept hatched at the UK retailer specializing in sex toys and lingerie. Rundle (Peaky Blinders, Episodes) will play Steph who feels invisible until party planning comes into her life. Wilton (Downton Abbey) is Pauline who jumps in at the deep end and agrees to host a party for Steph. Griffin (Lewis) is Nita, a mix of grit and warmth, struggling to run a household with a husband whom she adores but who frequently strays to the wrong side of the law. Rooney (My Mad Fat Diary) plays Dawn, a young hairdresser with a lust for life, but who has been taken for granted by her family since her mother’s death. Peter Wight, Don Gilet, Karl Davies and Ben Bailey Smith are the men in the female quartet’s lives. Executive producers are CPL’s Arabella McGuigan and Danielle Lux alongside the writer-creators. Shooting starts at the end of the month.