18 June 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network

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West The Road starring Siobhan McSweeney among first films to receive funding from Heatseeker Media
17 Jan 2024 : Luke Shanahan
Siobhan McSweeney
Irish comedy West The Road is one of three projects to receive funding from new UK-based financing fund, Heatseeker Media.

First announced in May of last year, West the Road is set to be the feature directorial debut of London-based Irish writer-director Ita Fitzgerald (Doctors, Grand Designs). 

Siobhán McSweeney (Derry Girls), Imelda Staunton (The Crown), Eileen Walsh (Catastrophe) and Hannah Waddingham (Ted Lasso) are attached to star in the upcoming comedy, following a group of women brought together by the death of a childhood friend. When they learn their deceased friend was forced to give her daughter up for adoption at the age of 15, the group embarks on a journey from the west of Ireland up the Wild Atlantic coastline, accompanied by a donkey called Thatcher, in search of the child.

West The Road is one of the first three projects to receive funding from new financing fund, Heatseeker Media, recently launched by UK producers Evan Leighton-Davis and Ben Bond. Heatseeker Media is a rolling finance facility with the aim of providing funding for independent film and TV producers. Backing for the fund is coming from private investors in the UK, Europe and the US. The London-based fund is providing development funding for producers in the $100,000 to $1 million range for individual projects.

The other two projects to receive funding are period drama Monstrous Beauty and horror film The Severed Sun

Monstrous Beauty is directed by Romola Garai (Amulet), and is set to star Bella Ramsey (The Last of Us) as Barbara Field, a woman entirely covered in hair due to a rare condition. Barbara is offered a place in the luxurious court of King Charles II, and aspires to become a playwright under actress Nell (Ruth Negga), a powerful mistress to the King. 

The Severed Sun comes from UK filmmaker Dean Puckett, with Emma Stapleton (LOLA, The Witcher) starring. The synopsis is as follows: “Magpie lives in an isolated church community ruled over by her father, The Pastor. When a man is murdered, paranoia sets in and people start to whisper about a strange 'Beast' that lives in the forest.” The film wrapped in July, is currently in post and will be the first of the three projects to deliver.

Matthew James Wilkinson is producing both Monstrous Beauty and West the Road. Heatseeker aims to bankroll the development of full slates from up-and-coming indie producers, with plans to invest in six to ten film and TV producers per year.

“Heatseeker is born out of our driving passion to bring a diverse slate of the best stories to the screen,” says producer Ben Bond. “As filmmakers ourselves, we understand the process, and how vital cash-flow is for independent producers. We aim to be true collaborators and provide the right level of finance, at the right price, at the right time.”

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