U.K. filmmaker Amma Asante has revealed she plans to start principal photography on long-gestating project “The Billion Dollar Spy” in 12 months. Production is currently on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Adapted by Benjamin August (“Remember”) from David E. Hoffman’s bestselling book of the same name, the Walden Media and Weed Road Pictures production will recount the true story of a man who became the Pentagon’s most valuable spy during the last years of the Cold War. Akiva Goldsman is set to produce.
“You know the aesthetic I wanted, it needs to be covered in snow and as much real snow as possible and that does restrict the time of year,” said Asante. “I think it will be within the next 12 months.”
Asante was in conversation with Scottish radio DJ and TV presenter Edith Bowman, as part of a virtual BAFTA masterclass during which she discussed her award-winning career, which includes two BAFTAs as well as gongs at the London Film Festival and San Sebastian. Asante’s film credits include “A Way of Life,” “Belle,” “A United Kingdom” and “Where Hands Touch.” Television credits include episodes of “A Handmaid’s Tale” and “Mrs America.”
Asante spoke frankly about the obstacles she faced within the industry despite winning the Carl Foreman award in 2005 for the most promising newcomer at the BAFTAs for her debut feature “A Way of Life.”
“I want to say that when I won my BAFTA, it was 10 years before I made another film, and there are those directors who are not Black and who are not female who won the same BAFTA — which is for a debut, director, producer, or writer — and in the time it took me to make one more film, made so many more films than I did,” Asante said.
“You get into a situation where the industry says, ‘We need experienced people.’ Well, of course people are going to be more experienced if they have more opportunity, and you have less,” Asante continued. “So we’re in that Catch-22 situation in the industry setup; it’s structured to limit many of us who look like me from getting the experience we need while giving so much opportunity to people who are no more talented, frankly, than we are, but who are more likely to be able to get to make award-worthy movies and work with bigger actors [and] bigger names simply because they have been able to hone their craft.”
“We have got to keep pushing hard and changing, and one of the ways in which I do it, although it does frustrate me, is that for each film that I’m in control of, I ensure that I have at least one emerging female filmmaker shadowing me on that film,” Asante said. “On my last film, as most people know, I had four.”