Producer talks of 'Father,' 'Friends'

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LONDON -- Producer-director Stephen Woolley is explaining why he wants to make a ghost story as his second outing in the director's chair while buying underwear at Heathrow airport.

The busy producer is having to snag some smalls after a rushed packing job between a trip to India and a flight to begin the casting process on the upcoming comedy "How to Lose Friends & Alienate People" left him sans undies.

With mission accomplished, Woolley turns his attention to what to direct next. "I know the things I like and I would love to take on a supernatural film -- something in that realm but not a horror," Woolley says. "I love horror as a genre but I want to do a more spine-tingling film, a ghost story or something."

The indie producer, who works with wife and partner Elizabeth Karlsen under the production banner Number 9 Films, is very busy and will have to wait before picking up a camera again.

Woolley is currently producing "Alienate," directed by Robert B. Weide ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") and adapted from Toby Young's novel. Woolley describes Weide as a genius at directing comedy and says "he understands the embarrassment of situations so well" that it made the process of choosing him much easier.

Woolley has just finished Anand Tucker's "And When Did You Last See Your Father?" a tearjerker starring Jim Broadbent and Colin Firth adapted from poet Blake Morrison's best-selling memoir about his relationship with his dad.

Both titles are generating buzz ahead of next month's European Film Market in Berlin for financing and sales house Intandem Films.

The genesis of both projects predate Woolley's directorial debut, "Stoned," about the death of founding Rolling Stones member Brian Jones. He says his reasons for not pushing to direct either is mainly because he found the perfect helmers. "When we chose Bob (Weide) for 'Alienate,' we just knew he would do a great job on it. I wouldn't put myself up to direct something like that. Comedy is a fine art," he says. Likewise "Father," which Woolley says Tucker was made to direct.

"But there is no question in my mind. I really enjoyed (directing) and want to continue," Woolley insists. "I love working with Liz and have done so for a long time now. We enjoy really good relationships with key partners such as Intandem, (U.K. broadcaster Channel 4's movie unit) Film4 and the Irish Film Board and we also have an ongoing relationship with Killer Films in New York."

So, what's up next for Woolley? Number 9 and Killer are collaborating to develop the Julian Schnabel project "The Lonely Doll," being adapted by Caroline Thompson.
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