News from our alums is something we share with great pride here at Short of the Week, whether’s it’s new releases that you can watch now, or announcements of upcoming projects in the pipeline, we’re always eager to forward these developments to our audience. In this latest article looking at work in development from our previously featured filmmakers we bring you news of big-screen Shakespeare adaptations, collaborations with Steven Soderbergh and a whole bunch of animated series’ set for our screens.
Trailer released for Dan Trachtenberg’s Predator movie Prey
The fifth film in the Predator franchise, Prey, sees Dan Trachtenberg (Portal: No Escape) take on the role of director after impressing on the Cloverfield franchise, with his entry 10 Cloverfield Lane. It’s been over six years since that film was released and in the meantime Trachtenberg has worked on a number of TV shows, including Black Mirror and The Boys, but we’re eager to see him back in the world of features with what looks like an interesting take on this race of predatory aliens. Prey is coming to Hulu (US) and Disney+ (UK) on August 5th.
Moin Hussain’s debut feature Birchanger Green in Post Production.
Having finally featured Moin Hussain’s excellent third short Naptha on our site and having become quite familiar with his filmmaking over the last few years, it comes as now real surprise to hear that the director’s debut feature is currently in post-production. The story of a man who becomes convinced he’s descended from an alien race, Birchanger Green sounds like a premise developed from that aforementioned short film, but according to the director it wasn’t planned that way.
“The short then was really great to show what the vibe and tone of the film might be”
“I made the short without any intention on making a feature that was any was in any way related”, Hussain explains as we discuss his feature. “It was only after I’d given up writing another project a few months after I’d finished the short that the seed of Birchanger came to me pretty fulled formed. The short then was really great to show what the vibe and tone of the film might be”. From there it was just a case of developing the style of the film and the director once again used his short as a starting point. “I think thematically it very much is a sci-fi”, he admits. “Stylistically the film leans into that side of things more as the film progresses but I do like to keep things as ‘real’ and as grounded possible otherwise I lose interest”.
Oscar-winning duo Aneil Karia & Riz Ahmed team-up again for Hamlet adaptation
Having won the Oscar for Best Short Film (Live Action) in 2022, with their music-video/narrative hybrid The Long Goodbye, Aneil Karia (Beat, Work) and Riz Ahmed are working together again, this time on a contemporary take of Hamlet. Describing their Hamlet as “an outsider in a wealthy British Indian family”, their film will see him moving from London’s elite to the city’s underground as he seeks revenge for his father’s murder.
Production starts on Kibwe Tavares’ debut feature The Kitchen
Previously featured on our site three times, with Robots of Brixton, Jonah and Robot & Scarecrow, Factory Fifteen director Kibwe Tavares finally makes the step to feature films with his debut The Kitchen. Co-written by Daniel Kaluuya and Joe Murtagh (who also wrote Nick Rowland’s debut feature Calm with Horses) the film is set in a future version of London where the gap between rich and poor has been stretched to its limits.
Eddie Alcazar teams with Steven Soderbergh on new feature project that will use his “metascope” technique from The Vandal
Having recently blown us away with his “metascope” technique, which blends stop-motion and live-action, Eddie Alacazar is bringing his novel approach to the world of features with Divinity. Explaining that the style will be “more elevated” than in his short The Vandal, his feature is the story of a couple of otherworldly brothers who set out to stop a mogul unearthing the secrets of immortality and sees Alcazar team up with Steven Soderbergh again, after their 2018 collab Perfect.
Details of next Rod Blackhurst project, Blood for Dust, released.
Recently featured on our site with his one-take proof-of-concept short Hysteric, Rod Blackhurst’s next project sees him enlist the likes of Scoot McNairy and Kit Harington to star in action thriller Blood for Dust. Describing his elation to be working with actors of this quality, Blackhurst admits to be “giddy” with excitement at the prospect.
Speaking to the director about the plot of his film, he revealed it was a “parable set in Texas 1993” before expanding on the premise: “It’s about a traveling salesman named Cliff realizing that the ‘American Dream’ is a myth as he struggles to provide for his family. To make ends meet Cliff decides to move some drugs around Texas before soon realizing that he’s found himself caught up in a game where nobody gets out clean, or at all”.
“This is also a huge opportunity for me to show people something different”
Having witnessed Blackhurst turn his hand to a number of different approaches and styles, since we first featured him back in 2011 with Early Innings, we’re eager to see the director turn his hand to a genre he describes as a “first love”, the mystery thriller. “While I’m going to do my best ‘Denis-Villeneuve-on-a-budget’ with Blood for Dust, this is also a huge opportunity for me to show people something different”, says Blackhurst, “something that hopefully steers my career towards the type of projects and collaborations that I want. And frankly, the type of storytelling that I’m best at!”
Joe Bennett and Charles Huettner to adapt Scavengers short into series for HBO Max
A real favorite around these part, the recent news that animators Joe Bennett (Derecho, Odin’s Afterbirth) and Charles Huettner (The Jump – Late Night Work Club) were working on a series adaption of their short Scavengers, was met with much excitement from the S/W Team. Set for release in 2023, Scavengers Reign follows the stranded crew of a space freighter as they struggle to survive on a beautiful but unforgiving planet. Fellow S/W alum Sean Buckelew (Another, Lovestreams) will also be involved as a co-executive producer.
Passion Pictures working on animated series’ with S/W alums Anna Mantzaris and Maryka Laudet & Quentin Camus
With the news of Scavengers Reign announced at Annecy, more plans for animated series’ were unveiled at the festival as Passion Pictures announced details of two shows, both directed by S/W alums. Greetings from the Apocalypse will be directed by Maryka Laudet and Quentin Camus, who were part of the team behind Wild Love, is a CG animation set in a futuristic wasteland and follows two women who try to survive in it. While Love by Anna Mantzaris will see the director use her trademark stop-motion skills to explore unconventional relationships, sexual kinks, and modern romance.
“The simplicity of the style will allow us to push things without making it feel like a parody”
Speaking to director Mantzaris, she explained that her series will consist of 3 x 30min episodes focused on “how we go about finding it in today’s world?”. Taking a detour from conventional storytelling, the filmmaker revealed how Love will follow a format similar to that of her short Enough and will employ her “gentle stop-motion animation style” for its aesthetic.
“The small human puppets, in their simplicity and naivety will express something very relatable and vulnerable”, says Mantzaris. “The simplicity of the style will allow us to push things without making it feel like a parody, and the softness of the character will allow us to go darker while still having an overall soft and human tone. They will in a more honest way express what is hidden inside all of us”.