26 September 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network

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Cannes 2021: Producer Laura McNicholas discusses bringing Irish feature Spilt Milk to Cannes Co-Production Market
21 Jul 2021 : Nathan Griffin
Spilt Milk
Producer Laura McNicholas of 925 Productions spoke with IFTN about her experience at this year’s Cannes Co-Production Market where her project Spilt Milk was one of seven projects selected as a spotlight feature under the Tallinn Black Night Film Festival banner.

This was the first time that Tallinn had hosted a special showcase for projects seeking co-production partners at the Cannes Market.

The Industry@Tallinn and Baltic Event Co-Production Market spotlighted Split Milk at the Marché de Film’s Co-Production Day earlier this month, where projects in development who are looking for co-producers and financiers were presented with one-to-one meetings

Spilt Milk is being developed and produced by Irish producer Laura McNicholas, who represented the project at Cannes (virtually) under her banner 925 Productions.

“Having our feature Spilt Milk selected for the Co Pro Spotlight at the Marche du Film was brilliant as it introduced the project to a greater range of potential partners,” McNicholas told IFTN. “Usually these meetings are one to one in Cannes but its 2021 so unfortunately I was at home… it was still brilliant though as its Cannes and being a focus project means you get the opportunity to pitch to some very exciting sales agents and producers.”

Although this year’s edition was virtual, McNicholas felt it was very much a successful endeavour. “I had twenty meetings in ten hours so fairly intense but lots of fun. Every market - every meeting is as much about finding partners for projects you are working on now as well as projects that will happen down the road,” Laura explained.

Spilt Milk is written by Cara Loftus, directed by Brian Durnin and will be produced by Laura McNicholas for 925 Productions, with Cormac Fox of Vico Films as the executive producer. 

“Being associated with Cannes, even being in the co pro market is pretty cool, it means the project is good,” said McNicholas. “The writer Cara Loftus is an incredible talent, a collaborative writer who is going to do great things and we have an amazing director in Brian Durnin who will bring an intense visual sense and a huge amount of empathy to the film." 

“Cormac Fox of Vico Films is the executive producer so it's a great team. We developed the project with the support of Screen Ireland and development has been relatively fast,  so we’re excited to now to shoot the film and share the story,” added McNicholas.

“We are setting Spilt Milk up as an Irish/Scottish/Belgian co-pro and are now financing so a lot of my meetings were sales focused and I spoke with some distributors also - hopefully we will close finance by the new year and shoot in Spring 2022 so these meetings were key,” added McNicholas.

The project was previously selected for the Baltic Event Co Pro Market at the virtual Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival in Estonia last November, which is where the opportunity for inclusion at the Cannes Co-Production Market originated. “They really liked the project so when they were selecting projects for the Baltic Event at Cannes they asked me if I wanted to submit Spilt Milk,” McNicholas recounted. 

“Black Nights and Cannes are connected as both are FIAPF festivals. I had attended Black Nights in 2019 as part of their Irish Focus with Screen Ireland, and had an incredible experience there,” Laura added. 

As a producer, McNicholas has also taken part in a number of coveted European production courses such as the TorinoFilmLab and Rotterdam IFF Producers Lab, which she credits to progression in the industry and understanding the world of EU co-production. “The Labs are so important. I actually met the Scottish producer we have on Spilt Milk at Rotterdam in 2018 so now 3 years later we’re going to work together,” McNicholas told IFTN. 

“Attending festivals and markets is about networking but that’s not a frivolous thing - its about being in the room with people and trusting them and essentially going into business together,” the producer added. “It will be great when travel is easier so that we can all meet up again.”

Spilt Milk follows eleven-year-old Bobby O’Brien, a precocious and energetic boy obsessed with becoming a great detective like his hero television sensation Kojak. Set against the backdrop of 1980’s, working class, inner-city Dublin, Bobby and his pal Nell torment their family, friends, and neighbours as they set up their own private investigation enterprise. But when Bobby’s brother Oisin disappears, this story of innocence and adventure stumbles into the murky world of criminality and addiction.

The production is targeting a September 2022 release date for the film.

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