EXCLUSIVE: British producer Fired Up Films and Entertainment One (eOne) are developing a pair of scripted projects – a boxing drama written by Once Upon A Time star Victoria Smurfit and a serial killer thriller based on a book by Oscar Pistorius’ aunt.
The indie, which was set up by former Kowalski Media chief Simon Howley and Million Dollar Car Hunters producer Jon-Barrie Waddell last year, and the Designated Survivor studio are developing The Box, written by Once Upon A Time and The Mentalist star Victoria Smurfit.
Working with funding agency, Northern Ireland Screen, the series is a comedy drama set on the North Coast of Ireland based around a female boxing gym. The series is about the unlikely friendships of a group of “odd ducks” in the rain soaked, coastal town of Portstewart.
“We’ve been working with Victoria in LA on a factual series and she shared the idea for The Box,” said Howley. We loved it and have been developing it with her for over a year. She’s a great writer, we are so pleased to be working with her. We want to make positive, feel-good films about life in Northern Ireland, and prove great real-life drama can be set here – and that it’s not just a world of fantasy and cops.”
The drama is based on Pistorius’ autobiography and documents the turbulent six years the author spent tracking down and profiling South Africa’s most feared killers. Set against a backdrop of rising crime and mass murder, the series focuses on the life of the newly qualified forensic psychologist as she enters service as a member of the South African Police Force.
“In the mid 90’s the world saw no more of South Africa than the hope of Mandela and the world of Invictus, but this series goes well beyond the headlines. There were more serial killers in South Africa than anywhere else in the World, and it’s a psychologically dark thriller dealing with this hunt for serial killers, but also with the internal politics within the rapidly changing South African Police Force. As soon as the book came to us we knew we had it to it,” Howley told Deadline.
Fired Up Films has a first-look deal with eOne and also produces docs and factual entertainment projects as well as factual drama. “We both come from a factual programming background and it’s a natural step for Fired Up Films to exploit that in the burgeoning scripted space – we already have a series in development with the BBC which initially came about from a true crime documentary we were developing,” said Howley.