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.
This is an original story - 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.
President Jawardene Kikwete met us and gave the project his blessing - lovely guy.
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.
Russell and I had more success with "The Water Diviner" which I exec produced from a script by Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios. Dirt Music has never been filmed, despite being one of Tim Winton's most accomplished and popular novels.
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.
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.
I wrote this with Justin Monjo at the suggestion of Cate Blanchett.
Mary Evans - a young Australian stranded in 1930's India, takes a job as a dancer on a film set, and goes on to become Bollywood's first action heroine.
There's a biography by Dorothee Werner if you want to read the true story.
Ours is more of a fantasy based on true events.
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.
This is a Sci Fi - based on the graphic novel Flywires by Chuck Austen.
It was commissioned by Alexandra Milchan at New Regency and co-funded by Brett Rattner.
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.
Screenplay for producer Uberto Pasolini who came up with the brilliant insight that The Odyssey is basically the Clint Eastwood movie "Unforgiven". Forget all the seafaring tales of monsters and godesses, the pitch is: "Retired hero comes home after a long absence and throws out the trash."
We had various tantalising false starts with this. Ralph Fiennes was at one point attached to star and direct. I think Uberto saw it as a more serious story, like Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood" while I was thinking more "Robin Hood Prince of Theives".
A rewrite for Sammy Hadida.
An earlier draft was written by Lesley Krueger based on the video game.
Christophe Gans was attached to direct this version and Andrew Mason to co-produce. We got as far as set design, computer previz 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.
This was my homage to Indiana Jones, 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.
The working title is nothing to do with Mr Crowe. I think the title refers to the sound of the wind through gum leaves. I rewrote it for Martin Brown, producer of Moulin Rouge etc, based on 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 change him back into a human .... but first she has to get a live, stolen, exciteable koala back through customs to Australia.
In development with Martin Brown Films.
Sea Shepherd One
The early days of Paul Watson, from his violent falling-out with Greenpeace via the purchase of his first ship to the ramming of the pirate whaling vessel Sierra.
Comissioned by Jonathan Vangar with Pieter Kroonenburg and Jamie Hilton co-producing. Pierre Morel of "Taken" fame remains attached to direct.
During the writing of this, Paul Watson was most co-operative. We'd have long conversations about his story, by sattelite phone from a secret location, as he was on the run from the German police at the time.
His first wife Starlet Lum was also incredibly helpful, providing a useful and amusing counterpoint to Paul's endearing tendency to self-mythologize.
Jonathan wanted a harder-edged movie so had it rewritten by a couple of action writers. I always thought of it more as a character study, with a vein of absurdist comedy.
Shores of Tripoli
Written for Jean Jacques Annaud back when foreign interventionism in the Middle East still seemed like a good idea.
This is 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.