First-time filmmaker gets closer to ‘Eden’

Jack London’s novel “Martin Eden” is rapidly coming together as a feature adaptation, with thesps like Charlie Sheen already signed on for cameos.

Sources said Sheen signed a letter of intent Wednesday after a meeting with his International Creative Management agent Bill Block. Amanda Plummer and Cary Elwes are also in the process of signing on, sources said.

Though the pic is still being packaged, it is skedded for an October shoot in Northern California’s Sonoma and Napa counties.

Rookie helmer David O’Neill, an actor who also penned the “Martin Eden” script, secured Sheen’s commitment by going through boot camp with him as a fellow grunt in the Republic Pictures release “Cadence.”

So far, the film needs only three more thesps in place before the financing can come together, which O’Neill expects will happen shortly. The makers estimate the budget at $ 6 million-$ 10 million.

The film will be produced through Danish indie producer Just Betzer’s Los Angeles-based company Panorama Film Intl.

Betzer, who also produced 1989’s foreign-language film Oscar winner “Babette’s Feast,” the Meg Tilly-starrer “The Girl in a Swing” and the Castle Hill release “A Day in October,” will produce “Eden” with Nancy Paloian.

Originally published in 1909, the semi-autobiographical story is “an answer to Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness,’ ” said O’Neill. In it, a simple sailor gets sucked into an alluring bourgeois world that ultimately disappoints him.

Like the narrator in “Darkness,” Eden is then forced to choose his own destiny. Apart from various stage and screen acting jobs, O’Neill also created the football drama short “The Longest Season,” which he financed himself by racking up credit card bills.

He played a disillusioned athlete after the 1929 stock market crash and was joined by Tina Lifford, who appeared in “Grand Canyon.” Pic was distribbed overseas by Double V Distribution.

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