EXCLUSIVE: David Kerr, the comedy director whose credits include Johnny English Strikes Again and Inside No. 9, has signed to helm Irish Christmas story Joy To The World.
Script comes from Irish scribe Ronan Blaney, who wrote the 2014 Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning short Boogaloo And Graham. Blaney has also penned three produced features: 2012 comedy-horror Love Bite, 2018 mystery feature Don’t Go, which was released in the U.S. by IFC Films, and 2019 crime thriller A Good Woman Is Hard To Find, which closed this year’s FrightFest.
In coming-of-age pic Joy To The World, after a bank robber dressed as Santa Claus holds up a bank, a child disillusioned with Christmas encounters a man in the woods who, also dressed as Santa, claims to have fallen out of his sleigh. The pair strike up a friendship and go on an adventure.
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Producers are Kate McColgan for Irish outfit Calico Pictures and Vivien Muller-Rommel and Michael Lehmann for Studio Hamburg UK. The project’s development has been supported by the Irish Film Board, Northern Ireland Screen, and the BFI.
Casting is now underway. Kerr is doing a director’s pass of the script and shoot is provisionally set up for autumn 2020. The team are looking at filming in Northern Ireland but other options are being considered.
Screenwriter Blaney said the project was inspired by his part-time teaching work in Northern Ireland.
“Christmas is a really difficult time of the year for some people. I wished the kids a happy Christmas and one of them, 12 years old, said, ‘Christmas is shite’. I knew there were some problems at home, no money in the family,” Blaney told Deadline.
“This is a Christmas adventure story with a darker edge. It’s about austerity, poverty at Christmas, how difficult that is for some people. It’s not quite Ken Loach at Christmas, it’s funnier than that.”
Blaney said the awards success of Boogaloo And Graham gave him a “burst of confidence”, and revealed that he has several further projects in the works.
They include a feature film based on Jan-Hinrik Drevs’ 2007 German comedy Underdogs, which follows a group of prisoners who learn to train guide dogs for the blind. The pic is set up at CrossDay Productions and Northern Ireland Screen.
He is also writing series The Little Angel, about a group of kids that come across a girl who has escaped from a trafficking ring and believe she’s an angel, for Wall To Wall and the BBC.
Blaney also confirms that a feature version of Boogaloo And Graham could still happen with the short’s director Michael Lennox, who is going into production on the third series of hit Northern Irish comedy series Derry Girls in spring next year.
After cutting his teeth on critically-acclaimed UK comedy series such as Inside No.9, That Mitchell And Webb Look, and Fresh Meat, David Kerr helmed the third entry in the Rowan Atkinson-starring spy caper series Johnny English, which grossed more than $150m globally.
Kerr and Blaney are represented in the UK by Casarotto Ramsay & Associates.
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