John Landis turns to U.K. for backing

Ealing takes on Simon Pegg starrer 'Burke and Hare'

CANNES -- John Landis says he can't get the movies he wants to make bankrolled in Hollywood so he came to the U.K. to find one.

It worked out well for him as he is putting the final touches to "Burke and Hare," starring Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis and Isla Fisher.

Landis said his wife, the Oscar nominated costume designer Deborah Nadoolman, told him to check out British indie production companies, "because they still take risks and make interesting movies."

He was having lunch at Ealing Studios with fellow filmmaker and friend Gurinder Chadha when she suggested he go meet with Ealing chief Barnaby Thompson.

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Landis said he was amazed the film's writers -- "St Trinians" scribes Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcrofthad -- reinvented two down and dirty murdering psychopaths into wannabe rom-com heroes.

It follows the travails of two real life Irish roustabouts William Burke and William Hare who discover there's money to be made in supplying Edinburgh's doctors with fresh bodies for dissection.

"It's like they'd [Ashworth and Moorcroft] turned Charles Manson into Sydney Carton," Landis laughed.

He said he went to more than 40 production companies on the way to finding a script he wanted to do and was greeted the same way in every one. With suspicion. "What do you want with us here," Landis said was a common reaction. "We can't pay you."

He said that while shooting commercials and videos has been an exceptionally lucrative way of working in recent years, he loved making a tightly budgeted, necessarily quick shoot.

Landis and his stars Pegg and Serkis landed in Cannes to help Ealing Studios International flog the movie to buyers.

Pegg and Serkis are both at pains to highlight just how tricky a balancing act it was to portray murderous, nasty killers in a romantic comedy.

"Ah, they're my evil Laurel and Hardy," said Landis, not quite as bothered as the duo.