"Heaven and earth" delayed

Filming of Cape drama delayed by cash crisis

By Bronwynne Jooste

A funding crisis is threatening to scupper one of the biggest film projects being undertaken in Cape Town this year - Heaven and Earth, starring Hollywood star Pierce Brosnan.

Producers of the multi-million- rand feature film, based on the life of the Cape Colony's medical inspector James Barry, are putting their faith in bridging finance while they wait for promised funds to arrive.

Pre-production has already started in the city, with significant expenses already incurred.

The finance promised by a backer from Britain has been delayed several times.

Brosnan has already arrived in the city to start shooting. He plays Cape governor Lord Charles Somerset, believed to have been Barry's lover.

The drama tells of a secret love affair between Somerset and James Miranda Barry, who was a woman posing as a man. Some of the film is set to be shot at The Castle.

Filming was scheduled to start on Thursday, but was delayed on account of the cashflow problems.

It is now scheduled to start tomorrow, but it is not clear whether funding will come through.

The film is being produced by British production company Focus Films. It approached Spier Films, which has offices both in Cape Town and London, to be the official South African co-producer but the deal will only become official once all legal and financial documentation is signed.

Until then, Focus Films will be the lead producer, and has already pumped millions into the project since pre-production started in December.

Spier Films also produced the award-winning musical, U-Carmen eKhayelitsha.

Michael Auret, the joint managing director of Spier Films, said although Focus Films had been sourcing bridging finance, they had "met all their financial obligations" to this point.

"Prior to the closing of the financial agreements, Focus Films have been responsible for the pre-production of the film and have to date invested more than R10-million on preparing this wonderful project."

He said they expected legal agreements to be signed before shooting was scheduled to start on Sunday, although pre-production has already begun.

Auret said a range of factors was holding up the process.

These included negotiations with lawyers, adding that it was "not unusual" for these agreements to be finalised long after shooting had commenced.

"The legal agreements have not closed as yet, but we believe this will happen soon and that shooting will start as scheduled.

"Focus Films have been meeting their financial obligations in the pre-production period, as far as we are aware, and will continue to do so via bridging loans until the legal agreements are finalised and the rest of the finance flows into the production."

David Pupkewitz, the film's executive producer with Focus Films, was unavailable for comment but the Focus Films website states that Heaven and Earth has a $15m budget

source ; http://piercebrosnan.bbforum.be

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