Gilliam to godfather ‘1884’

Tim Ollive to helm retro sci-fi fantasy

Terry Gilliam is godfathering “1884,” to be co-produced by U.K.’s Steam Driven Films and France’s 2d3D Animations.

A retro sci-fi fantasy, pic will be helmed by Tim Ollive, a Brit digital animation specialist who’s collaborated with Gilliam before. dating back decades to 1979’s “The Life of Brian” and 1983’s “The Meaning of Life” and run through “The Fisher King” and “The Brothers Grimm.”

Bankside Films has acquired international rights.

Pic will be produced by Peculiar Pictures’ John Needham, 2d3D’s Malika Brahmi, Gilliam, officially named “a creative adviser”; and vfx and miniatures specialist Steve Begg. 2d3D’s Florent Mounier will exec produce.

Former members of the Monty Python team will feature in the Brit voice cast, Needham said, although he would not disclose names yet.

A four-minute teaser of “1884” was presented by Gilliam, Needham and Mounier on Wednesday at Paris FX, a two-day special effects and animation forum organized in the French capital by the Ile de France Film Commission.

Budgeted at 6 million ($8 million), Mounier said, “1884” imagines a film made in 1848 with steam power, narrating a tale of laughable imperialist derring-do and espionage set in a futuristic 1884, when Europe is at war, steam-powered cars fly in the sky and man has landed on the moon.

Pic will look like animation but in fact mix live-action puppets with CGI heads and actors’ filmed eyes and mouths. Backgrounds will feature collages of miniatures, film, graphics and period photography.

Ollive made a test for “1884” in his bathroom.

“I thought, Finally a bathroom has been put to proper use,” Gilliam said in Paris.

He added: “The quality of the work is amazing: It’s not slick and sleek CG work, such as studios in L.A. particularly produce. It looks crafted by an artisan, and the scale and design are spectacular.”

Screenplay is by Ollive and graphic/production designer Dennis de Groot, another longtime Gilliam collaborator.

Pic is in the final stages of financing, with 75% to be put up by Steam Driven Films, Needham said.

2d3D co-produced “The Triplets of Belleville” and the upcoming “Pinocchio.”