McKee, Urrutia Link on ‘Madness’

Colombian director to helm Mckee ‘white-knuckle thriller’ screemplay

BOGOTA – Bogota-based director-producer Miguel Urrutia (“Wake Up and Die,” “The Game of the Hangman”) is attached to direct “Madness,” from a screenplay by Robert McKee, one of the world’s best-known screenwriting lecturers.

Project is set up at Urrutia’s Enmente Group production shingle.

Set at an isolated hospital in the Amazon, “Madness” turns on a psychiatrist couple: She’s a practitioner, he’s a researcher. With the help of a tribesman, the wife discovers a miraculous Amazonian plant which provides a cure for madness. The battle to control the discovery, its billions worth of money, is however, just a MacGuffin, McKee said.

“Madness” is not an art film but a white-knuckle thriller, a double-cross, triple-cross, nothing-is-what-it-seems, peeling-the -onion kind of story that has “a powerful reveal,” he added, saying that “Madness” explores psychology, motives, the limits of what people are willing and able to do to satisfy very dark desires.”

McKee is currently transferring the story from its original high-tech Boston setting to the Amazon.

Once the screenplay is finished it will be put out to cast, including high-profile Hollywood names for the psychiatrist and his much younger wife.

“Madness” has been optioned “three or four times” but hasn’t got made because it’s “too dark,” McKee said.

“Some might say: ‘Why would McKee, a classical storyteller, take his work to an art movie director in Colombia?’ McKee said.

But “There are magnificent films that come out of Argentina that are always classically told, in three or four or five acts,” Mckee argued pointing to Juan Jose Campanella’s “The Secret In Their Eyes.”

The McKee-Urrutia is also just one of multiple creative and production partnerships now being forged between the U.S. and Colombia, a country which has shrugged off the stigma of violence, boasts a generation of new directors and, Urrutia said, “highly important incentives” for local and international film productions.

These include both a 2003 cinema law which offers tax credits to local productions and new additional regs giving shoots rebates on spend in Colombia up to 50%.

Urrutia broke through with his debut, “Wake Up And Die,” a time-loop thriller driven by the evolving relationship between a killer and his victim, trapped in a bedroom.

Urrutia commented: “Beyond the interesting and intricate plot of ‘Madness,’ and the screenplay’s hugely arresting premise, for me what’s most important about ‘Madness’ is a dramatic staging where what is ultimately key is the characters’ internal world, something which has trapped me totally in this screenplay.”

The “Madness” pact with Urrutia is McKee’s twenty-first deal on a screenplay that has not gone into production.

That, however, is not uncommon, McKee argued.

“The Writers’ Guild says that of every 20 deals that get serious money, only one gets made. So it’s my time, I guess, since I’ve had twenty deals.”

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