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The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
The Alchemyst



Written for Australian producer Mario Andreacchio and Lorenzo di Bonaventura at Paramount - an adaptation of the first book in a popular young adult franchise by Irish novelist Michael Scott.




Written for Steven Spielberg as a co-production bewteen Fox and Dreamworks, this was an original screenplay based on true events. The Bismarck was Hitlers equivalent of the Death Star - bigger, faster and more accurate than any U-boat, and capable of sinking any Allied warship that came within range. With it he aimed to close down the convoy routes across the Atlantic.


Apart from its sheer size, Bismarck's key advantage was a sort of proto-computer - which could land a shell with pinpoint accuracy on a moving enemy vessel beyond the horizon.


My heroes were the Jewish-German maths genius who operated this device, the patriotic/conflicted captain of the Bismarck and the insanely brave pilots of torpedo-carrying wire and canvas biplanes which were Britains only hope against superior German technology.      





Biopic of the Victorian Explorer, convicted "pornographer" and expert linguist Sir Richard Burton - translator of 1001 Nights, the first European to enter Mecca, and co-discoverer of the source of the Nile.


I wrote this for director Scott Hicks who grew up in Africa and has always been a fan of Burton  ... as I am.


Black Honeymoon
A Hitchcockian thriller, inspired by a trip I took to Congo Brazzaville with Paul Greengrass when we were both young and foolish.

Martin Brown and I later took a research trip to Tanzania, reckoning we could film the river boat sequences on the shores of Lake Victoria.


Ex president President Jawardene Kikwete met us and gave the project his blessing - lovely guy. 

Dirt Music
Earlier screenplay
Phil Noyce had the rights to this book for many years. Justin Monjo wrote a draft which Pip Karmel then revised.
Finally Russel Crowe was attached, but - being an accomplished musician - he wanted to play the hippy guitarist Lu Fox, rather than the tough professional fisherman who is the other part of the love traingle. Making the Lu character older and more proactive changed the dynamic of the story quite a bit and, in the end, Phil stepped away from the project.  
Jack Thorne later adapted the book with Tim Winton and the film was directed by  Gregor Jordan


The Drowner

An adaptation of the Australian goldfields novel by Robert Drewe. Comissioned by Stephen Van Mil with Fred Schepsi slated to direct.


Steve raised development money from a number of investors at the height of the Western Australian mining boom, but it's an expensive and difficult movie for a first time producer - with a large ensemble cast, a remote period setting, and a multi-stranded plot line. 


When Steve reluctantly abandoned it, the book rights reverted to Robert Drewe.


Fairweather's War



From the novel "Season of the Jew" by Maurice Shadbolt.


In 1868, former British Army officer George Fairweather resigns his commission to be a watercolourist in New Zealand.


But a violent uprising led by his one-time friend - the charismatic Maori preacher Ti Kooti - drags Fairweather back into the action, defending the settlers whom he largely despises and the Maori woman whom he and Ti Kooti both love.




A story of the Irish civil war based on "The Road to Ballyshannon" by David Martin, with the late great Kennith Trodd of BBC films producing and Pat O'Connor slated to direct.



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In Love and War

The story of a semi-fictional platoon in the gruelling desert war of 1941.


The story is framed within the remarkable wartime love story of Phil Noyce's parents. (Thats his mother in the photo). 


Phil Noyce to direct. 






Sci Fi for Alexandra Milchan at New Regency based on a graphic novel by Chuck Austen


Historical story of the aboriginal freedom fighter, written for Tim White when he worked for Fox/Icon. There was an earlier draft of this story by Steve Hawke, who went on to write the story as a play and then as an opera.  





Magical-realist story about a fractured family and the rescue of a stranded whale. Co-written with french director Philippe Muyl for Philippe to direct. 



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Just Cause 

Screenplay for a big budget action movie based on the popular video-game. Avalanche Studios and Warner Brothers . Brad Peyton was originally slated to direct.



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A Koala in Queens



Rewrite of an earlier draft by Jim Piddock and Simon Kelton.

The story is of an animal smuggler who is transformed into a koala by an irate Aboriginal magician and then exported to America. A resourceful young girl releases him from a New York zoo and undertakes to help change him back into a human .... but first she has to get a live, stolen, English-speaking  koala back through customs to Australia.

 Michael Thurmeier slated to direct .


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The Land at the End of the World 



Co-written with director Kim Morduant for producer Sylvia Wilczynski 

Disenchanted expat Soldier joins an all female team of bomb disposal experts in Angola.


Mattias Schoenarts to co-star  with Tom Hardy's production company co-producing. 


Little Dragon



Bruce Lee started out  a teenage tearaway and dance champion in 1950's Hong-Kong - a city crammed with refugees from the Chinese Communist Revolution and divided by gang warfare.


 This film about Bruce Lee's  early years got tantalisingly close to being shot with Shannon Lee coproducing and Shakhur Kapur directing, but there was an unfortunate  last- minute hiccup with the finance and the whole project went South.

One Crowded Hour 

Biopic of combat cameraman Neil Davis, co-written with director Kiim Morduant and based on the biography by Tim Bowden 



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Ocean Warriors 


The story of the early days of Greenpeace

A rewrite for the late Sammy Hadida based on the video game


An earlier draft was written by Canadian writer Lesley Krueger 


Christophe Gans was attached to direct this version and Andrew Mason to co-produce. We got as far as set design, computer generated "previz"  (pre-visualisation) and making the costumes, with Japanese financiers heavily invested, but then, as an indirect consequence of Heath Ledger's death, the European finance fell through - it happens sometimes...  




Ripley's Believe it or Not

Written for Universal, Christopher Columbus was originally slated to direct.
A story inspired by the life story of Robert Ripley, a 30's journalist and illustrator tasked by Randolph Hearst to document the bizarre and the magical, wherever in the world he could find it. 



Shores of Tripoli

Written for Jean Jacques Annaud -  the true story of William Eaton, Jefferson's ambassador to North Africa, plus Presley O'Bannon, founder of the US marine corps, and their battle against the Barbary pirates. 




Written with Vincent Perez and Karine Silla for  Vincent Perez to direct, Jeremy Thomas producing

Storm Warning

Rewrite of a script by Andy Dillon, the true story of the disasterous Sydney-Hobart yacht race in 1998, the ill-fated all-male crew of the Winston Churchill, and the female rescue-jumper who risked her life to save them.


Patrick Hughes slated to direct.




The Sixteen Pleasures

Comissioned by Jane Berliner and based, rather loosely, on the novel by Robert Hellenga. A repressed American book restorer arrives in Florence, Italy to restore flood damaged books in a nunnery.


While dismantling shelves to release the damaged, swollen manuscripts she discovers find hidden away, a 15th century illustrated erotic masterpiece called "The Sixten Pleasures" . The nuns want to disown the book and certain powerful individuals within the Vatican want it destroyed. It may be a valuable work of art, but it also depicts the love life of a former Pope. 


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The story of artist Tamara di Lempicka co-written with playwright Joanna Murray-Smith and director Vittoria Colonna

Touching the Void

A dramatisation of the classic mountaineering book by Joe Simpson, unrelated to the excellent docu-drama by Kevin MacDonald.


The movie cuts between Joe's extraordinary physical ordeal and the survivor guilt of his climbing partner Simon, who, recovering in base camp, tries to figure how he will break the news back home that he killed Joe and left his body on the mountain.


As part of the research for this, I spent time with Joe and Simon, and also took an ice-climbing course in the Torridan mountains in Scotland, discovering new and interesting things about the pyschology of fear.




I wrote this for Scottish producer Christopher Young, based on "You've Been Trumped", the excellent documentary by Anthony Baxter about Trump's attempts to create an exclusive golfcourse development on coastal farmland near  Aberdeen, regardless of the wishes of the people who lived there.

My draft was perhaps a bit too true to life. The ideal version would be be slightly more heavily fictionalised in the style of Local Hero, but having got to know all the real-life characters - including Michael Forbes, pictured - it was hard for me to re-imagine them as anything other than themselves, so I passed it on to another writer.


The Zero Game

Conspiracy thriller adapted for Gary Ross (The Hunger Games etc) at Universal.


Secret betting ring among staffers on Capitol Hill is being used to manipulate voting outcomes on key areas of policy.


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