×

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.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Great Outdoor documentary series about

    Farm to Picture: Documentary Series 'The Great Outdoor' Chronicles a Life Gone to Pot

    Cannabis cultivation in the Emerald Triangle, the area in Northern California that has long been a go-to for growers, has a starring role in a new documentary series called “The Great Outdoor.” Funded by Flow Kana, one of the state’s leading cannabis flower brands, filmed by David Zlutnick, and executive-produced by Flow Kana co-founder Flavia [...]

  • 1982 El Gouna Festival

    Egypt's El Gouna Film Festival Puts Arab Helmers at Center Stage

    The upbeat state of Arab cinema will be on the screen and in the balmy air at Egypt’s El Gouna Film Festival (Sept. 19-27), which is steadily gaining traction in its stated ambition to become a key platform and solid driver for Middle-East producers. “This year was one the best for Arab cinema,” says Intishal [...]

  • Star Skipper Paramount Animation

    Meet Star Skipper, Paramount Animation's Magical New Trademark Logo Character

    Studio logos are powerful signals to audiences.  Multiple generations of moviegoers flipping through channels or scanning streaming titles have frozen at the sight of a desk lamp hopping across the screen, because it means a Pixar movie is about to play. Likewise, when a young boy lounging inside a crescent moon casts his fishing line into [...]

  • Sybil

    Cannes Competition Movie 'Sibyl' Finds North American Home With Music Box (EXCLUSIVE)

    Music Box Films has acquired the U.S. and Canadian rights to Justine Triet’s darkly comic drama “Sibyl,” which competed at Cannes and had its North American premiere at Toronto in the Special Presentation section. Represented in international markets by mk2, the film follows the ambiguous relationship between Sibyl, a jaded psychotherapist (Virginie Efira, “An Impossible [...]

  • Kent Jones Directs 'Diane'

    Kent Jones to Exit New York Film Festival (EXCLUSIVE)

    In a surprise move, New York Film Festival’s director and selection committee chair of seven years Kent Jones will step down following this year’s 57th edition, which runs Sept. 27-Oct. 13. The departure comes as Jones’ feature filmmaking career is taking off. Issues of potential conflicts of interest have arisen as his work has moved [...]

  • Ava-Mark-Split

    Ava DuVernay, Mark Ruffalo Selected for SAG-AFTRA Foundation Honors

    Ava DuVernay and Mark Ruffalo have been selected by the SAG-AFTRA Foundation for its fourth Annual Patron of the Artists Awards. The awards will be presented on Nov. 7 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. The show benefits the nonprofit SAG-AFTRA Foundation and is not televised. Previous SAG-AFTRA Foundation Patron of the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content