A new film is to be made about the adventures of Captain Pugwash, according to Isabel Ryan who I spoke to on the penultimate day of her father, John Ryan’s retrospective exhibition at the Rye Art Gallery. John Ryan wrote and illustrated the popular children’s books and TV programmes about the hapless pirate.
With her was film director and writer John Hay who is working with Elliot Jenkins, the Emmy-award winning producer (Skins and Lost Christmas) based in Brighton at the British film studio, Atticus Pictures. Currently completing a film about author Roald Dahl, featuring Hugh Bonneville in the main role, they have now acquired option rights from the Ryan family for their new Pugwash project.
Their choice of subject derives from their reading of the Pugwash stories at a younger age, and a desire to share their delight with the next generation. Coupled with this is an awareness of the market for much-loved children’s books that also appeal to grown-ups, with the recent success of the Paddington films as an example.
This will be a biographical film, telling the story of how Pugwash became a pirate following a successful mutiny during his passage of transportation as a con artist to Botany Bay in Australia. The film explores the character of that most cowardly and gentlemanly of pirates in an amalgam of adventures. Nick Frost plays Pugwash. To be shot partly in and around Rye and partly in South Africa with real sailing ships, filming is expected to start in the Autumn this year and is scheduled to take six months to complete.
Reversing the technique of animation this film draws on an animated cartoon base to create a live action film, although computer graphics are also employed. This is a $30 million production, that is designed to appeal also to international audiences, particularly in the USA and China – with Chinese investment backers, there are Chinese pirates amongst the motley crew.
Photo: Isabel Ryan