Johnny Depp has signed on as a producer for a feature documentary called “Shane” about the lead singer of punk band The Pogues, Shane MacGowan. The news was announced Wednesday by HanWay Films, which acquired the worldwide sales rights.
Julien Temple, director of “Glastonbury,” “The Filth and the Fury” and “London: The Modern Babylon,” is directing the documentary that examines MacGowan and his ability to write lyrics to hits like “Fairytale of New York” that captured Ireland’s spirit while he was on his very own personal voyage into the heart of darkness.
Temple will produce through Nitrate Film together with Depp and Stephen Deuters (“Minamata”) through Depp’s production entity Infinitum Nihil and Stephen Malit. HanWay Films has acquired worldwide sales rights and will introduce the project at the upcoming European Film Market, where the company will screen footage for the first time. Altitude Films will distribute the film in the U.K. and Ireland and it will be broadcast on BBC Four at a later date.
“It’s not the easiest thing to make a film about Shane MacGowan. The nearest thing I can think of is one of those David Attenborough films,” Temple said in a statement. “You set the camera traps. You wait and you wait, in the hope that one day the snow leopard will trigger them. Then when you do actually capture the unique force of Shane’s personality, even for a moment on screen, you realize it was all worthwhile.”
“Knowing Shane for 30 years, I am honored to be producing the definitive film on both my friend and one of the most important artists and beloved poets of the twentieth century,” Depp added.
“Shane had a dream to bring Irish music to the next generation and to the world. In that he was truly successful and a purpose very much full-filled. Woven into his documentary Temple movingly manages to bring Shane’s lyrics to life and connects you to the man who has encapsulated the soul of the Irish worldwide,” HanWay Films MD Gabrielle Stewart said.
“Shane” will blend animation with unseen footage from Temple’s own archives, as well as other contributions from collaborators, artists and MacGowan’s own family. The film aims to reveal MacGowan’s true punk and poetic nature, culminating in his sixtieth birthday celebration where singers, movie stars and rock ‘n roll outlaws gathered for a knees-up to remember. Here’s the full synopsis:
No one has bared their soul quite like Irish poet and musician Shane MacGowan. In pursuing the visceral emotional truth demanded by his own personal trials and tribulations growing up in a culture of strong anti-Irish sentiment in Britain, he has lived life to the hilt and beyond, putting every atom of his humanity on the line. For in a world where music has become increasingly sanitized and unable to venture beneath the surface clichés of human emotion, Shane’s songs stand out in ever greater relief. His work is raw, unflinching and unashamed. Reflecting all the many places Shane inhabits – the invisible world, hedonism, alcoholism, God, redemption and romance, in all their respective grit and glory, this film will weave his story in and out of the music as we journey in non-linear fashion from childhood to the present day.
Johnny Depp presents “Shane” in association with BBC Music, Warner Music Entertainment and HanWay Films, a Nitrate Film and Infinitum Nihil Production of a Julien Temple Film. Jan Younghusband, Head of Music Commissioning, is executive producer for BBC Music, Steven Lappin for Warner Music Entertainment together with Jeremy Thomas of Recorded Picture Company, Gerry O’Boyle, Manish Patel and Sam Sarkar. Victoria Clarke is associate producer.
Welsh illustrator Ralph Steadman, well known for his collaborations with American writer Hunter S. Thompson, is providing artworks for animator Jonny Halifax to bring to life.