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NOV
15
2 YEARS

Producers of Sci-Fi Thriller Scramble for Funding After Allegedly Being Duped

In a lawsuit, the filmmakers claim they were promised $22 million but first were told they had to put up $300,000.

A planned $22 million sci-fi thriller has run into trouble, with producers of Lucidity alleging they were "scammed" by individuals who held themselves out to be film financiers.

Last October, Preston Waters Corporation announced it had "green lit" the UK film described by some as Blade Runner meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, about a dystopian future where an addictive drug allows memories to be downloaded, stored, stolen and traded. Among the actors said to have been attached were James Rolfe, MacKenzie Crook and Ashley Walters.

But in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, the producers allege an unfortunately familiar situation: They were promised $22 million, but they first had to put up $300,000 to make it happen.

Lucid Motion Pictures Limited is going to court against Varicorp International and an individual named Rhett Shepard.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff entered into an investment agreement last October whereby Preston Waters agreed to advance and guarantee the $22 million sum but conditioned it upon a $300,000 payment to Varicorp.

The $300,000 payment was made, but Varicorp is charged with having "failed to acquire the financial asset, set up the collateral and investment structure, or otherwise deliver on the funding for the Picture, within twenty-one banking days from the receipt of the Origination Fees as it was obligated to do under the Invoice."

The lawsuit says that in December 2011, the producers informed Varicorp of the default and demanded the $300,000 back. The producers say they never got it. Further, the lawsuit accuses Shepard of treating Varicorp's assets as his own and committing fraud, breach of contract and conversion.

Reached for further explanation of what's happening, Lucidity producer Bart Ruspoli says, "Preston Waters and Varicorp were in business together, and they turned out to be full of shit and they didn't have resources to finance the film."

Neither Shepard nor Preston Waters CEO Nicholas Mussolini have responded to a request for comment.

At the time of the Lucidity announcement, an official at Preston Waters told Variety that it intended to fully finance 10 to 15 projects a year in the $20 to $60 million budget range. But a source close to the company says it ran into problems on the path to making that happen.

Email: eriq.gardner@thr.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner