'Chemical' reaction

Film is new science for scriptwriter

Flying commer- cial Boeing 757s, fronting the iconic heavy-metal band Iron Maiden and hosting radio shows means Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson has taken a long time to get a script made into a film.

Dickinson, described in the All Music Guide as "the most acclaimed and instantly recognizable vocalist to emerge from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement of the early-'80s," has waited a long time for his movie voice to be heard.

After umpteen drafts, the Dickinson-penned, $5 million-budgeted film "Chemical Wedding," based on major Edwardian figure and scandalous character Aleister Crowley, is finally being made.

While the film details some of the more infamous details of Crowley — a mad Cambridge professor famous for devil worship, sexual shenanagins and once dubbed "the most evil man in Britain" by the press — it is no biopic.

It is being directed by Julian Doyle, a Monty Python veteran second unit director who Dickinson met when Doyle shot the video for "Can I Play With Madness."

The plans for financing the movie also got a huge shot in the arm when sought-after character actor Simon Callow heard about the script.

"(Callow) had tried to get a project for television off the ground a few years ago about Crowley," Dickinson says. "He's such a good actor and has a personal interest in the subject matter. He brings a wonderful eccentricity to the part."

The movie, which finished a six-week shoot in early September, is billed as "where Kubrick meets Monty Python," according to the producers.

At one time, Dickinson and Doyle's "Chemical" project was also to be the first movie out of a start-up movie production label named Messiah Pictures, launched amid fanfare in London in 2000.

The brainchild of former Monty Python member Terry Jones, the company died on the vine, but label Bill and Ben Prods. — of which the Bill of Bill and Ben happens to be Jones' son — kept the script under a desk.

The movie also stars Doyle's son and small British screen regular Jud Charlton, who plays opposite Callow in much of the movie and is the computer programmer who inadvertently brings Crowley back to life.

British-based Focus Films' David Pupkewitz and Malcolm Kohll are producing together with Ben Timlett and Justin Peyton of Bill and Ben Prods. and Duellist Film Production in association with Motion FX and E-Motion.

Andy Taylor, Rod Smallwood, Paul Astrom Andrews and Peter Dale are executive producing.

The film has been sold to Warner Music for U.K. and Ireland rights, with a guaranteed theatrical rollout, producers say.

As to flying jumbo jets? "It pays the school fees, and my dad always told me to have a trade to fall back on," Dickinson laughs.
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