Canning & Sherman: Transcontinental duo sees global possibilities

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For two guys who work on opposite sides of the world, Iain Canning and Emile Sherman of See-Saw Films consider themselves inseparable.

“Because we are so geographically distant, it’s all the more important that people know we are across all of our projects collectively,” says Canning, who’s based in London, while Sherman operates from Sydney.

It’s apt that Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech” was their first film together. The relationship between an Australian speech therapist and the British king, directed by a helmer with an Aussie mother and an English father, was a perfect fit.

“It’s a very personal film,” Canning says. “For us, it’s always about matching a director who’s passionate about the subject matter.”

The pair met when Canning handled Sherman’s film “Candy” at Renaissance.

Canning next worked in sales and acquisitions for Australia’s Becker group in London, where he exec produced two prize-winning debuts, Anton Corbijn’s “Control” and Steve McQueen’s “Hunger.”

That success led him and Sherman to set up See-Saw, which has a cross-shareholding with Aussie distrib Transmission, for whom Canning also acts as a buyer. Canning is now producing McQueen’s “Shame” in New York, while Sherman steers the Jane Campion TV series “Top of the Lake” in New Zealand, though Canning points out they are working as a tag team across both sets.

Canning says his own strength is bringing his experience as a buyer and seller into the creative process. “Having been to AFM and seen films go well or not in the marketplace, you can feed that information back to directors in the development stage so everyone has their eyes open about what the audience is and what the budget should be,” he says. “We want to find audiences.

Age: 31
Provenance: Bristol, England.
Inspired by: Good Machine