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Sleeper Films sets up in UK, Ireland with investment from MediaNet Partners

Sleeper founders (LR) Wilf Varvill, Lee Magiday and Rory Gilmartin

A London- and Dublin-based prodco has launched with investment from a private asset management firm that usually operates in Latin America and Cyprus-based prodco Sampsonic Media.

Sleeper Films has been set up by Lee Magiday (The Favourite, The Lobster), Rory Gilmartin (Herself, Frank of Ireland) and Wilf Varvill.

Details of the investment in Sleeper Films were not disclosed but the company said the backing from MediaNet Partners and Sampsonic Media would allow for a “significant ramping up” of its activities.

The film and TV company is developing supernatural thriller Corballymore House, described as a returnable television series and being coproduced with Ben Grass of Pure Grass Films.

Declan De Barra (Netflix’s The Witcher – Blood Origin and The Witcher) will showrun the series, with Diane Ademu-John (HBO Max’s Dune: The Sisterhood) onboard as creative consultant and executive producer.

Created by De Barra and inspired by stories from his own family history, Corballymore House is set just prior to the First World War and follows the Doyle family as they inherit a remote manor house while recovering from the loss of their baby and failed business.

It is also already attached to projects including mystery thriller series The Ruín, an adaptation of Dervla McTiernan’s novel of the same name.

The show is in development with Screen Ireland and Sleeper is producing with Colin Farrell and Claudine Farrell of Chapel Place Productions, Troy Lum and Andrew Mason at Brouhaha and Sophie Gardiner at Chapter One.

Sleeper is also on board the feature film In the Shadows, with Film4, about the UK-Somalian women’s boxing phenomenon Ramla Ali and to be directed by Anthony Wonke.

MediaNet Partners is focused on investing in companies with distinctive talent in the media and entertainment industry. Its interests include AGC Studios, Ray Pictures, El Estudio, iGeneration Studios and Lantica Media, which operates Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios.

Sampsonic Media, meanwhile, is led by Nicolas D Sampson and Arno Hazebroek. It executive produced titles including Hope Gap, Show Me The Picture: The Story of Jim Marshall, Vita & Virginia and Adventures of a Mathematician.

Magiday has previously worked in-house at various studios and production companies, including heading Focus Features’ European offices as VP of acquisitions and production and director of acquisitions at PolyGram Filmed Entertainment and Universal Pictures International.

As an independent producer, Gilmartin most recently produced Channel 4/Amazon Studios’ Frank of Ireland for Merman, created by and starring Domhnall Gleeson and Brian Gleeson.

He was previously in-house producer at Element Pictures while other positions have included project manager at Screen Ireland, where he was an executive producer on more than 30 films, including The Lobster and Brooklyn, and head of development at Independent Talent’s Brilliant Films and Impact Pictures.

Varvill has worked at a leading film and TV completion guarantor where he was involved with the financial and legal closing of more than 50 projects, with budgets ranging from £1.5m (US$2m) to £45m.

Prior to this, he worked in acquisitions at Focus Features and Universal Pictures International and produced award-winning shorts including Londongrad.

“Our new partners share our passion for compelling storytelling from distinctive talent – stories that have something unique to say about the human condition; stories that can push boundaries and genres,” said Magiday, Gilmartin and Varvill in a joint statement.

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