John Hannah, star of Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Mummy and Shooting for Socrates (screened at the British & Irish Film Season in 2015), is currently in the Grand Duchy for the shooting of The Toy Gun, a Luxembourg - Belgium co-production; on Friday, a press conference was held at the Hotel Melia in Kirchberg with some of the people behind the film.
The Toy Gun is produced by Jesus Gonzalez and directed by Marco Serafini who co-wrote the screenplay with Vince Villani, and is co-produced by Calach Films in Luxembourg (based at Filmland in Kehlen) and Gardner and Domm (BE) with the support of the Film Fund Luxembourg and Mollywood. The film is being shot in English.
Synopsis: A fun and gritty dark comedy about a meek young man (Ruggero) who impulsively robs a bank to prove to his ex-wife that he is courageous and masculine. A police investigation engulfs everyone except our unassuming hero who is completely ignored. Through a set of hilarious coincidences, he gets away with the robbery, while corrupt bank officials take the fall for what looks like an inside job. Fargo meets The Big Lebowski, as Ruggero discovers the crime world of loan sharks and thugs he’s gotten into.
The director, Marco Serafini, explained that the film has been three years in the making. He has shot two previous productions in Luxembourg, the Jolly Joker and the Millionaire, and he described shooting in the Grand Duchy as easy but not the least expensive. He also explained how he addressed the issue of casting for the film, with Steve Daly as casting director arranging the contacts with Federico Castelluccio, Luke Allen-Gale and John Hannah.
Jesus Gonzalez, producer, stated that the original financing was supposed to come from Italy and Australia, with a small percentage from Luxembourg, but it turned out that Luxembourg became the prime backer of the project. In total the Luxembourg Film Fund is contributing €2.7m out of a total budget of €4m.
Federico Castelluccio (The Sopranos) stated that this is his first time in Luxembourg which he described as a really intruiging city, "a mix of antiquity and ultra-modern, a wonderful experience".
Luke Allen-Gale (Wallander, The Borgias) stated "I've had a wonderful time here" and remarked on the wonderful Grund and its farmlike area which reminds him of Norfolk in England. He described Luxembourg as very clean and very pretty, with the crew representing everything that Marco (the director) is making - "a very good example of Europe at work".
John Hannah stated "everyone seems fluent in at least four languages... We can all understand each other. I am really enjoying working here".
Hana Sofia Lopes, who is Luxembourgish and has spent the last couple of years working in Portugal, explained that she was sent the script two years ago when studying in Paris - "when I first read the script I fell in love with it" - and the film is her first in English.
The shooting started in Antwerp in January, then moved to Luxembourg on 1 February, where it will end in the first week of March. In Luxembourg, scenes have been shot at Hesperange (at the former IBM building, for the police station and bank scenes), Esch-sur-Alzette (the Rue de Brill), Dommeldange and outside the Hotel Melia in Kirchberg. In Antwerp, as studio was used for shooting some indoor scenes.
The film is expected to be screened at film festivals in the autumn, possibly with a New York premier, and in screens here in early 2017.
Immediately after the press conference the production went on to a shoot in the hotel.
Photo by Geoff Thompson (L-R): Hana Sofia Lopes, actor; Federico Castelluccio, actor; Luke Allen-Gale, actor; Marco Serafini, director; Blasco Giurato, director of photography; John Hannah, actor; Jesus Gonzalez, producer.