UK Indie Mad As Birds Lands Seven-Figure Private Investment And Heads To Cannes Market With Multi-Picture Slate

EXCLUSIVE: UK production company Mad As Birds (MAB) — best known for pics such as Six Minutes to Midnight, POMS, The Vanishing, and The Almond And The Seahorse — has landed a major cash injection from a private investor as it sets out a diverse slate of projects for the Cannes market.

We understand the investment is around the seven-figure mark. The investor, whose identity has been kept private, approached the UK-based indie headed by Celyn Jones, Andy Evans, and Sean Marley with the unique deal, which is set to supercharge the company’s work across film and TV, with several MAB projects heading to the Cannes market this week.

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New MAB film projects hitting the market include:

  • Call Girls
    Directed by veteran British filmmaker Catherine Morshead (Downton Abbey series, Lockwood & Co.), the film comes from a screenplay by writers Paul Coleman and Brennan Reece. Coleman is the BAFTA-winning writer behind the BBC comedy Car Share, starring Peter Kay. Call Girls is Coleman’s first feature credit. The film has been described as a “female-fronted British comedy feature.”
  • Grange Hill: The Movie
    Deadline reported last month that Sir Phil Redmond is moving forward with his Grange Hill film adaption, and filmmaker Sara Sugarman (Save the Cinema) has signed on to direct a story in part based on the character she played in the hit BBC kids show. Producers have described Redmond’s script as British IP, which is “perfect for young people” and will bridge the gap between education and the industry while discovering new talent.
  • In The Grey
    Oscar-winner Gary Unger (Pinocchio, Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities) approached MAB with the project, which has been described as a “contained psychological thriller” in the vein of Michael Mann’s Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx-starrer Collateral. Talent and director have yet to be attached.
  • The Six Loves Of Billy Binns
    Actor and writer Richard Lumsden has adapted his own book of the same name for the screen. The book, which was released in 2019, follows the 101-year-old Billy Binns, who embarks on a journey to complete his final life wish: to remember what love feels like one last time. MAB is producing, with veteran British actor Sir Tom Courtenay (Doctor Zhivago, The Railway Children Return) signed on to star. Courtenay previously lent his voice to an adaptation of the novel by Lumsden for BBC radio.
  • The Night Guest
    An adaptation of Australian author Fiona McFarlane’s 2013 novel of the same name, the pic is currently casting, with Arclight Films on sales and financing. McFarlane’s novel follows Ruth, a widow who wakes one day and believes a tiger has been in her seaside home. Later that day, a formidable woman called Frida arrives, looking as if she’s blown in from the sea. In fact, she’s come to care for Ruth. Frida and the tiger are both here to stay, and Ruth must decide who she can trust. MAB’s Celyn Jones will write and direct.
  • MadFabulous
    Billed as an “LGBTQ+ extravaganza,” producers have attached filmmaker Lee Haven Jones (The Feast) to direct the pic from a screenplay written by Lisa Baker.

Away from the big screen, MAB are also moving forward with an international TV series titled Minotaur, with French-Moroccan actor Assaad Bouab (Call My Agent, The Pursuit Of Love, Bad Sisters) attached to lead. The series has been described as a “heightened thriller” and will feature six parts. The series will be English language, with some French, and will be set between Paris and North Wales. The series was created by MAB’s Jones.

We understand MAB are also near to closing contracts with a UK distributor to bring their last pic, The Almond and the Seahorse, starring Rebel Wilson and Charlotte Gainsbourg, to UK cinemas. The UK-set film debuted at Zurich last September and was released in North America by IFC Films on 16 December. The film will land on UK screens this year. MAB will also set an expansion of its post-production services and launch a full post facility in North West England. 

Speaking with Deadline about the new investment and their expansion plans, Jones and Marley said their previous pace of growth was “limited by resources not ambition.” With the new injection, the pair said they “can now make more than one project at a time.” 

Executive Producer Nicola Pearcey will work with MAB across the slate through her production vehicle Picnik Entertainment.

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