The making of a collapsed sci-fi film starring Bond girl Eva Green became a “Shakespearean farce”, the film’s producer told the High Court.
Casino Royale actress Ms. Green was set to play the lead in the dystopian thriller A Patriot, but the production was dropped in October 2019.
The 42-year-old is now suing production company White Lantern Film, claiming she is entitled to her million-dollar (£810,000) fee for the project despite its cancellation.
White Lantern Film filed a countersuit against the French actress, alleging that she undermined the production of the independent film, made “excessive creative and financial demands” and had expectations “incompatible” with the film’s budget.
The production company’s Max Mallin KC has claimed that a “plan” was devised between actress/writer/director Dan Pringle and producer Adam Merrifield, reportedly described by the latter as “Operation Fake It!” – to secure your fee and make a separate film without the involvement of the project lender.
However, on Thursday, the High Court in London heard from Merrifield, who denied any plans to undermine the production, saying his comment was a joke.
He said: “We had weeks and weeks of going to Black Hangar [the studios] and try to make this movie work.”
The producer said there was a plan to move to a new production structure, with Merrifield leaving the film, but it was unclear if it had been implemented.
“At this point, it had become a bit of a Shakespearean farce,” he said, later adding: “There was really nothing to undermine.”
The court previously heard that while the film was originally to be shot in Ireland, filming later moved to Black Hangar Studios outside London.
On Thursday, Harry Boyd, the project’s first assistant director who later resigned, said he visited the Hampshire studios about six weeks before filming began.
He told the court: “It was like a morgue. He should have been busier than this courtroom, with a lot of people running around.”
In his written evidence, Boyd, who has worked on projects including the 2021 Oscar-winning film Dune, said he had only seen three or four members of the team, who were working on another project.
“It was a leaky airplane hangar with no soundproofing,” he said, adding in his written evidence that he was “shocked” by the facility.
Boyd continued: “I had no doubt that Black Hangar was unfit for the purpose of making a great movie. The facilities (locker room, makeup, dressing rooms, etc.) were not at an adequate level or size so that no team could work”.
Mallin told Boyd that he did not visit the studio again and did not know if the soundproofing had been done.
Boyd responded: “It would be a difficult thing to do in four weeks and very, very expensive.”
The assistant director said the amount of work required to prepare the production would have taken “eight weeks, all at once”, adding: “You can build a house in four weeks, but it could collapse after two.”
Testifying Tuesday, Ms Green said she did not want to work with executive producer Jake Seal and his team, but would not have broken her contract.
In the texts used in the White Lantern Film claim, Ms. Green referred to Mr. Seal as “evil”, a “devious psychopath”, “pure vomit” and “a liar and a madman”.
Boyd, who has worked in film and television since 1990, told the court: “Having dealt with Mr. Seal…I found him quite devious. I’ve been doing this for a long time and you can smell the rats, if you will.
“I felt like he wasn’t doing his job the way you’d expect him to.”
The trial is expected to hear evidence from Ms Green’s agent on Friday, with a ruling in the case expected at a later date.