I am helping research a film script for Tigerlily Films and they have asked me to find out what the legal implications would be to the questions that I asked so that the script writer can write up the scenario in a truthful / authentic way.
Below is an overview of the plot and the shoot will happen in 3 weeks, hence the rush.
REMAINDER: About the Film
Remainder is a contemporary psychological thriller set in the UK, based on the cult novel by Tom McCarthy which has been translated into 14 languages and appeared on the Los Angeles Times Best Seller list. Zadie Smith called it ‘one of the great novels of the last ten years’. The novel has been adapted by Omer Fast, a renowned artist whose work has been shown at major art museums around the world. Omer will also direct. The script was developed with support from the BFI and from Film 4, and will shoot early 2014 in the UK and Germany.
Remainder sits in the vein of such successful films as Steve McQueen’s SHAME and Christopher Nolan’s INCEPTION. When promoting the film, we will focus on the strong combination of the story itself that already has a loyal following through the novel, and Omer Fast’s distinctive visual style and storytelling. Additionally with the casting of Tom Sturridge (FAR FOM THE MADDING CROWD, UNTITLED TERRENCE MALICK, ON THE ROAD) in the leading role, the film should reach out to a wide audience and garner great press interest.
Remainder will be produced through an SPV set up for the purposes of the production. Lead producer will be Natasha Dack of Tigerlily Films, London. Co producer in Germany will be Malte Grunert of Amusement Park Films. The Match Factory will represent the film for international sales, and Soda will distribute the film in the UK. Arte/ZDF have prebought the film for German TV, and Pfiffle will distribute the film in German cinemas. We are in discussion with Mongrel for Canadian distribution, and Haut et Court for French distribution.
Drama / Thriller
Based on the bestselling cult novel by Tom McCarthy, it’s the story of a man reconstructing his past out of lost memories. This is helped by a large financial settlement for an accident he cannot remember for medical reasons and cannot talk about for legal reasons, but neither his friends nor his own self are wholly reliable witnesses, aides or confidantes as he tries to make sense of what’s happening to him.
Writer/Director: Omer Fast
, Producer: Natasha Dack, Tigerlily Films, Producer: Malte Grunert, Amusement Park, Executive Producer: XXXXX XXXXX, Cast: Tom Sturridge (“Tom”)
Director of Photography: Lukas Strebel, Production Designer: AdrXXXXX XXXXX,
Composer: Max Richter,
Editor: Andrew Bird
Preproduction: March – April 2014 Production: April – May 2014 Projected completion: October 2014
Tom waits anxiously at a busy street crossing in London. He’s thirty-years old, dressed in a business suit and has a black trolley suitcase behind him. Police cars whiz by. As the light changes, Tom starts to cross when a young woman suddenly appears behind him, waving and screaming for him to stop. Tom stops in the middle of the street, realizing he’s left the suitcase on the pavement. Just then, a freak accident happens: Tom looks up just as something large and mechanical falls down from the sky and crushes him. After a long process of rehabilitation, Tom ends up alone, unemployed and exceptionally wealthy – an unwitting beneficiary of millions of pounds in legal compensation. He goes back to a life he’s got no memory of and finds Catherine on his doorstep, a seductive American who seems to know a lot about him. There is also Greg, a smooth-talking dandy who claims to be a childhood friend. While both seem devoted and helpful, they also try to influence what Tom does with his money and increasingly appear to conspire against him.
As his suspicions grow, Tom starts losing touch with reality. He is increasingly haunted by visions from his past: There are mundane memories of his childhood home but there are also disturbing visions of a boy crying over a dead parent, a suitcase full of money and hands probing gunshot wounds in a body. Against the advice of his friends, Tom decides to investigate his past by having it recreated. He acquires a large tenement building and expensively renovates it to match the one he remembers. He then fills it with perform- ers who are paid to simulate his former neighbors. Although their activities seem pointless at first, they increasingly infiltrate Tom’s flashbacks and, more uncannily, they appear unexpectedly outside of the house. Growing more paranoid, Tom begins restaging events as soon as they happen to him, as if he’d understand the present better by reenacting it.
The trail of reenactments leads back to Tom’s bank, which was robbed right before he suffered his accident. Using his remaining wealth, Tom builds a theatrical replica of the bank and then hires a retired gangster to teach his ensemble how to rob it. The actors rehearse until they become experts. The set is refined until it is indistinguishable from the real bank. In a final attempt to reconcile his foundering inner world with a treacherous outside reality, Tom takes his unwitting actors to his bank. They jump out of the bank and run in. The real place looks just like the replica. But there’s one minor difference: A little kink in the carpet triggers a chain of events that ends in catastrophe. There is a shootout. The robbers die, one by one. Tom tries to run and bumps into a child crying over a dead parent. Tom reaches down, probes the gunshot wound, sees the suitcase full of money, and realizes the memories that have haunted him originate here, in this moment, and not in his past. He flees the bloody scene on foot, disoriented and paranoid, dressed in a suit and carrying the suitcase. He stops at a busy street crossing nearby, anxiously waiting for the light to change, trying to blend in. Police cars whiz by. As the light changes, Tom starts to cross when a young woman suddenly appears behind him, waving and screaming for him to stop. It’s Catherine. Tom pauses, confused, realizing he’s left the suitcase on the pavement behind. Has he done this before? Is this also a performance? Just then, a shadow envelops him: Tom looks up. The loop is complete. Something large and mechanical falls down from the sky and crushes him.
Like a never-ending Möbius Strip, Remainder begins and ends in the same moment. What’s shown in between is a slice of life: A young man tries to understand himself by obsessively delving into his fragmented past until he’s completely swallowed by it. Who is this young man? When we first see Tom, he’s anxiously waiting to cross a busy London street on a sunny day. Dressed in a sharp business suit, towing a trolley suitcase and brandishing the latest smartphone, this young man could be the star of an advert. He’s the archetype of our age: perpetually moving, always connected, ready to conquer space and time, but stuck in traffic, waiting for a damned traffic light to change. In fact, Tom will never make it across that street. In the next ninety minutes, he will literally move mountains – he’ll buy and sell millions in stocks and real-estate, he’ll direct increasingly elaborate and dangerous performances, he’ll discover and lose his true love and consort with all sorts of crooks and prostitutes, he’ll even rob a bank and murder his colleagues – but he will never cross the street. Ever.
Why should we care? Remainder’s subject is my generation’s ambivalent relationship with reality: We have all the technical means of capturing it in moving pixels and sound. We can record it and play it back. We can blog about it and find an instant stage and a global audience online. But as we master reality and package it into ever accessible wandering bits, we actually spend less and less time in it. We lose touch with it. I, for one, spend most of each day in front of a computer. When I go on holiday, the first thing I do as the plane touches down is check my email. For someone addicted to the non-linear space of computing and the internet, with their cut- and-paste logic, instant links and infinite levels of undo, the physical world can be obscure, isolating and unforgiving. The worst thing about Tom’s accident is how it leaves him stranded and disconnected in this world – with lots of money but no tools to cope. Wherever he goes, he carries along his smashed and useless smart phone, a transitional object and relic, like an overgrown child clutching his teddy bear. As several specialists he encounters assure him, he’s got everything he needs to thrive: He’s got tons of money, a beautiful girlfriend and a loyal best mate. But he can’t connect the dots. Or rather he gets obsessed by the dots and misses out the connections.
The psychiatrist Jacques Lacan talks about trauma as an encounter with the real which denies signification: when words fail and we’re stuck with an event that forever induces anxiety without being able to rationalize it. While researching for a recent film, I interviewed U.S army drone pilots in Las Vegas. These young men spend up to ten hours a day sitting in front of a computer and participat- ing in combat missions half a world away. Through cutting-edge surveillance technology mounted on the drones they control, these virtual pilots are able to spot the brand of shoes a person is wearing from a height of five-thousand feet. They can follow this unfortunate person for hours, without being seen or heard, until they receive a command to extinguish this person, which they can do at a push of a button. In all respects, they are given super-human powers and are completely safe in their drab, air-conditioned office environment. And yet many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and “virtual stress.” They talk about nightmares involving beings they can’t control. More incredibly, to relax in the little time they have away from the job, many elect to play video games for hours on end.
In the simplest sense, Remainder is a psychological thriller about a person whose past catches up with him when he’s most vulner- able: In absolute control. It shares an almost classical obsession with the story of Oedipus: With enlightenment comes punishment. Those who truly understand the past are condemned to repeat it. Admittedly, that’s a pretty heavy message. But the there is lots of comedy to mine out of Tom’s undoing as he retreats into a private recreated world that often clashes with the contrived rules of our contemporary public one. The film also has social overtones. Set in Brixton, a historically black and immigrant community, Tom’s actions amount to gentrification and the impact of outside power and capital in this space. It’s not incidental that the people who have to move out to make space for him are black, as is the person who is framed by the police for committing his crime. By the time Tom leaves his victims and demons at the bank, he finally accepts that the physical world is both redemptive and inauthentic. He dies a happy man. And like a latter-day phoenix, or a video game avatar, he’s reborn for our pleasure.
The Production Team
Writer & Director: Omer Fast
Omer is a contemporary video artist. He was the recipient of the 2009 Preis der Nationalgalerie für Junge Kunst and the 2008 Bucksbaum Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art, among other honours. Fast has had solo exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus (2012), the Power Plant Toronto (2012), Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2010), Berkeley Art Museum (2009), Museum of Modern Art, Vienna (2007), Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh (2005), Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2004), and the Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt (2003). His work has also been featured in dOCUMENTA (13) (2012) and the Venice Biennale (2011) and has been acquired for international collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Guggenheim Museum of Art, Hamburger Bahnhof, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Museum of Modern Art, Vienna. Omer was recently awarded the Special Jury prize for the German Film Academy for his film 5000 Feet is Best – which also screened on German TV channel 3Sat. His most recent film All Things That Rise Must Converge will premier at the 2014 Berlinale.
New York Times
“Is it Reality or Fantasy? Omer Fast”
“Art in the Drone Age”
New York Magazine “The Truth is Out There”
“documenta — Looking Back and Ahead”
The Production Team
Producer: Natasha Dack, Tigerlily Films
Tigerlily Films was established in 2000 by Natasha Dack and Nikki Parrott. It is an award winning UK based production company, working across feature films, television, and radio, whose output screens and sells around the world. Recent feature films include the Locarno Golden Leopard wining feature film SHE, A CHINESE (wr/dir Xiaolu Guo), JADOO (wr/dir Amit Gupta, Berlinale 2013) currently on release in the UK, and THE MARKET (wr/dir Ben Hopkins). Their feature docs include 37 USES FOR A DEAD SHEEP (BBC/Arte), DOLCE VITA AFRICANA (BBC/Arte), ONLY WHEN I DANCE (C4/ Arte/HBO Latin America), GOTH CRUISE (Independent Film Chanel), ALEXIS ARQUETTE: SHE’S MY BROTHER (A&E Indie) and BLACK POWER SALUTE (BBC). Natasha also produced Fast’s NOSTALGIA, as well as several music related projects, including most recently a series of films with rap legends the Last Poets for C4, and a BBC documentary about the story behind the multi million selling 1973 album Tubular Bells.
Producer: Malte Grunert, Amusement Park
Amusement Park was founded in 2009 by Malte who had previously headed up the feature division at Studio Hamburg. Malte has produced and co-produced films such as PERFECT SENSE, starring Ewan McGregor and Eva Green and directed by David Mackenzie who also directed YOU INSTEAD, another film co-produced by Malte Grunert. Most recently Malte produced A MOST WANTED MAN, based on the John le Carré novel, directed by Anton Corbijn star- ring Philip Seymour Hoffmann, Willem Dafoe and Rachel McAdams. The current development slate at Amusement Park includes new projects from directors David Mackenzie (Hallam Foe) and Lone Scherfig (One Day) as well as writers Purvis & Wade (Skyfall).
Director of Photography: Lukas Strebel
Lukas is a RTS and Emmy award winning and BAFTA nominated DOP. Most recently he worked with Michael Mann (HEAT) and Dustin Hoffman on the HBO series LUCK.
Production Designer: AdrXXXXX XXXXX
Adrian’s impressive list of film credits includes THE WARRIOR, BRONSON, RESISTANCE and JADOO. His TV work includes LUTHER, THE FEAR, SHAMELESS, and the BAFTA design winning HISTORY OF MR POLLY.
Composer: Max Richter
Max Richter is based in Berlin, and has composed scores for a number of films, including Ari Folman’s WALTZ WITH BASHIR and THE CONGRESS, Cate Shortland’s LORE, and David Mackenzie’s PERFECT SENSE.
Editor: Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird is based in Hamburg and has edited all of Fatih Akin’s films, including SOUL KITCHEN, EDGE OF HEAVEN and HEAD ON, Xiaolu Guo’s SHE, A CHINESE, Miranda July’s THE FUTURE, and Julie Delphy’s THE COUNTESS.
Lead Actor: Tom Sturridge
Tom has just finished working on Thomas Vinterberg’s FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, in the lead role opposite Carey Mulligan, he also worked on the most recent Terence Malick film. In the last few years he has appeared in ON THE ROAD, EFFIE GREY and THE BOAT THAT ROCKED, as well as acclaimed theatre performances on Broadway opposite Alec Baldwin in ORPHANS (nominated for a Tony Award) and at the Lyric Hammersmith in PUNK ROCK (won Critics Circle Award and was nominated for Evening Standard’s Best Newcomer Award) and at the Royal Court, London in Polly Steynham’s latest play NO QUARTER.