Magazine article Screen International

Paul Webster

Magazine article Screen International

Paul Webster

Article excerpt

The veteran UK producer talks about Salmon Fishing In The Yemen's audience appeal; Jason Statham's new side in Hummingbird; and Joe Wright's inventive take on Anna Karenina.

Producer Paul Webster has certainly tackled a range of topics for his latest productions: a salmon-obsessed Yemeni sheikh, Jason Statham in dramatic mode, and an adaptation of one of Tolstoy's great epics.And there's more to come -- Webster, formerly of Working Title, Miramax, Film Four and Kudos Pictures, recently set up London-based production company Shoebox Films with Guy Heeley (first AD-turned-producer) and director Joe Wright (who Webster worked with as a producer of such past films as Pride & Prejudice and Atonement)."Guy, Joe and I have complementary skills. Joe is a director, but he's also dipping his toes into the producing side of things. He's also a talent magnet. Guy is already brilliant at doing the day-to-day management on a movie and he's learning fast on everything else."Heeley, who previously served as first AD on films such as The Iron Lady, Hanna and Brighton Rock (another Webster film) gets his first feature film producing credit on Hummingbird, Shoebox's first production.The London-set drama marks the directorial debut of Steven Knight, who Webster worked previously with as the screenwriter for David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises.Hummingbird stars Jason Statham as an ex-soldier trapped in London's criminal underworld who is transformed into an avenging angel. The project shows a different side to Statham. "It's a complete departure, it's a dramatic role," Webster notes. "There's a romantic element to it, a sensitivity, it's a complex piece. There are some elements that will please the action crowd, but it's more akin to Eastern Promises than Crank or Safe." (IM Global handles international sales.)The film is finishing its eight-week shoot on May 6 and Webster is bullish on the results so far. "I'm quite excited about it. It's always nice working with a first-time director. Also, I know Stephen very well, and he's a grownup. He's taken to it [directing] like a duck to water...He brings a complete calm, he's very, very prepared. He knows the movie inside out because he wrote it. It's a big advantage working with a writer-director."After leaving Kudos/Shine (but before the Shoebox banner was set up) Webster also produced (alongside Working Title's Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner) Wright's Anna Karenina, which is now in the final stages of post for a likely autumn festival debut. [Shoebox itself also continues a close relationship with Working Title. …

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