Croghan on ‘Scanner’

Aussie helmer picks up sci-fi thriller for U, Jersey

Emma-Kate Croghan, the Aussie filmmaker whose debut feature “Love and Other Catastrophes” garnered critical acclaim at the major film fests last year, is set to helm an adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s 1977 sci-fi thriller “Scanner Darkly” for Universal Pictures and Jersey Films.

Drawing from Dick’s experiences with drug addiction in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and dealing with his consistent premise of altered reality, “Scanner” has been regarded as one of the sci-fi maven’s best works.

The book tells the story of a narcotics agent who, in the course of his undercover investigation, becomes hooked on drugs, making him too estranged from reality to realize he’s actually keeping himself under surveillance. He gets off drugs, after losing his job, but his brain continues to reel from the lasting effects of his abuse.

The project was brought into Universal by Jersey VP of development Matt Berenson. Jersey optioned the novel from Dick’s estate via New York literary agent Russell Galen.

In stark contrast to her first, full-length outing — the romantic comedy “Love and Other Catastrophes,” which Fox Searchlight is distributing in the U.S., after picking up the film prior to it much-balleyhooed appearance at Cannes last year — “Scanner” should allow Croghan an opportunity to showcase her directing skills and build a broader foundation for her burgeoning career.

Based on the strength of “Love,” the 25-year-old Aussie has been offered numerous directing gigs at the studios, but the majority were said to be light, romantic comedies similar to “Catastrophes.”

Croghan cut her teeth directing the award-winning shorts “Sexy Girls, Sexy Appliances” and “Desire.” She also co-directed the docu “Come As You Are.”

While Dick died in 1982 and was never able to see any of his books made into films, several projects have been based on his works, including “Blade Runner,” which stemmed from the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”; “Total Recall,” based on the short story “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale”; and “Screamers,” based on the short story “Second Variety.”

ICM agents Robert Newman and Jacqueline Fuchs brokered the deal on Croghan’s behalf. The filmmaker is also repped by her Australian agent, Siobhan Hannan of the Hilary Linstead Agency.

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