Celluloid Dreams Prods. will team with London-based The Bureau to produce Tom Shkolnik’s comedy drama “The Letting Go,” budgeted at just E500,000 ($632,500). Bertrand Favre at The Bureau and Dan McCulloch will produce.
The Bureau will raise half of its budget via U.K. funding sources, said Panahi.
Celluloid Dreams hopes to recoup the rest by selling “Letting Go” to 10 territories at $31,000 a shot.
The minimal budget rolls off Shkolnik’s singular directorial technique and “Letting Go’s” subject matter.
Pic turns on Ben, a late-20s stand-up comedian who lacks originality and life experience.
Dumped by his longtime boyfriend, he slides into a descending spiral of alcohol and casual sex.
But as he finds a voice, delivering bits about his own lifestyle with disarming candor, he slips toward collapse.
A movie about performance, with a character and narrative arc, “Letting Go” will shoot without a script. It’s also Shkolnik’s feature debut.
Hence the minimal budget.
“$31,500 is nothing for big territories and there’s large possible upside,” Panahi told Daily Variety.
Distributors buying “Letting Go,” which Panahi is presenting at Cannes, will have a first option on Shkolnik’s second feature.
Beyond distributors, Panahi could see individuals buying into the film in foreign territories.
“It’s always important to not only adjust to the market, but take up new challenges,” Panahi said.
“I want to challenge the industry, to see if users may be more open-minded than the industry often is,” Panahi said.
“Letting Go” will be cast by Kathleen Crawford, casting director on Ken Loach’s Cannes Competition player, “Route Irish.”
Workshop rehearsals will take place in London in summer and fall, aiming for a winter shoot.
Panahi envisages “Letting Go” as her first micro-budget production, and she aims to extend the framework to other countries.
“If there are overseas producers with strong material, first- or second-time directors, and they can share the risk and profit, let’s see if we can make the movie economically, maintaining creative freedom,” Panahi said.