New investors allow expansion

Irish shingle Treasure Films has expanded its operation, thanks to a 1 million euro ($912,000) discretionary fund from the Irish Film Board, Anglo Irish Bank and private investors.

New investors include James Morris, chairman of London/New York post house the Mill and Ireland’s indie TV channel, TV3; Maurice Cassidy, worldwide promoter of Riverdance; and Pearse Farrell, founder and managing partner of Farrell Grant Sparks, a Dublin-based accounting and consulting firm.

Four fund managers

Company’s Robert Walpole and Paddy Breathnach, who currently run Treasure, will be joined by writer/director Conor McPherson and ex-ICM agent Justin Moore-Lewy in managing the new fund. McPherson has also joined Treasure as a shareholder and will make his films with the company. Moore-Lewy will head the TV division and help Walpole run day-to-day operations.

New cash infusion will enable Treasure to continue developing and producing pics for Breathnach (Miramax’s “Blowdry”) and McPherson to helm, with Walpole still on tap as producer. McPherson is making Miramax-financed “The Actors,” which stars Michael Caine and Miranda Richardson. Treasure has also established relationships with scribes and helmers such as Roddy Doyle and Kirsten Sheridan, whose debut pic was “Disco Pigs.”

‘MacIntyre’ being prepped

Breathnach is prepping $15 million thriller “MacIntyre,” to begin lensing this summer from a script penned by McPherson.

Treasure’s first ani pic is “Ape,” currently in production. Rory Bresnihan penned and is helming the pic, with thesps Alfred Molina and Dom Irrera on board for the voice-overs. Gotham-set comedy tells the story of an orangutan that escapes from the Bronx Zoo, having learned to pass himself off as a man. He becomes the most famous cat show host in the world.

“Treasure has always been a talent- based company,” said Treasure Ent. CEO Walpole. “Now there’s more talent and the money and personnel to support it. Having writer-directors like Conor and Paddy inhouse is a great resource, not just in terms of the projects they generate but they also bring their talent and expertise to bear on other projects on the slate.”

Added Dublin-based Breathnach: “We have been working together for a long time and we are interested in the same sorts of films. Setting up a company together is just a way of cementing our relationship.”

Initial focus on docs

Established in 1992, Treasure focused first on docs for Irish TV. In 1996, shingle’s feature — “I Went Down” — brought the company to the attention of New Line, where Treasure signed a first-look pact.

Treasure broadened its canvas in the late ’90s, moving into international TV market and animation under the banner of Treasure Entertainment. Company recently established a new state-of-the-art 3-D ani studio in Ireland, with award-winning animator Bresnihan heading the operation.

The private investors in Treasure’s expanded shingle include James Morris, chairman of London/New York post house The Mill and Ireland’s indie channel TV3; Maurice Cassidy, worldwide promoter of Riverdance; and Pearse Farrell, founder and managing partner of Farrell Grant Sparks, an accounting and consulting firm based in Dublin.

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