10 Producers to Watch

Duncan Jones, director of low-budget sci-fi hit “Moon,” is reluctant to discuss his producing partner Stuart Fenegan.

“I would rather not say too much about just how good Stuart is at his job, as good producers are like gold dust, and he’s mine! Hands off!” he warns.

Jones and Fenegan met when they were making commercials, and launched Liberty Films together in 2005. Both deliberately entered the advertising business as a platform for careers in films, and it served them well.

They continued to make commercials through Liberty while they developed their ideas for a debut feature. Jones had already written a futuristic script called “Mute,” but Fenegan decided it wasn’t right. “It was too ambitious for a first feature,” he explains.

But Sam Rockwell had shown some interest, and that led Jones to construct “Moon” as a vehicle for Rockwell that could be made on a tight budget.

“We commissioned Nathan Parker to write a first draft from Duncan’s treatment in May 2007, shot in January ’08 and locked in May,” Fenegan says. “A year from commission to picture lock, that’s a good example of how focused Duncan and I were.”

He raised the $5 million budget from private equity and a deal with Sony. Cut-price f/x and post deals, combined with the skill of Jones in melding CG with live action, enabled them to create a convincing moon base and lunar landscape on a shoestring.

“I’m a producer who works with the writer and director all the way from the kernel of an idea to the final edit,” says Fenegan. “I love helping talented people with a vision bring that out onto the page and onto the screen. And I like doing deals. My byword as a producer is ‘mutually beneficial.’ I don’t want any party to feel exploited.”

Fenegan and Jones are now returning to “Mute,” which they plan to shoot in Berlin next year for $15 million-$25 million, depending on cast.

Liberty also is developing projects with other helmers: Niall Johnson’s romantic comedy “The Gatecrasher” and a couple of other first-time features with commercials directors. “Having produced ‘Moon,’ people might be more willing to take a risk on us,” Fenegan says.

P.O.V.

AGE: 32

HOME BASE: London

INSPIRED BY: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” “I saw it when I was 10 and I knew what I wanted to do. I spent the whole summer holiday watching that film every day. It’s the best example I know of really talented people collaborating to create something extraordinary, and that score is still the most played on my iPod.”

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more