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KILLER ELITE

About The Production
"Certainly it's an action film, certainly it's a thriller, but these characters are based on people who existed, and what we're interested in exploring is the humanity of the characters. I think that's what drew people like Robert De Niro, Clive Owen and Jason Statham to the film.” Director, Gary McKendry

Self-described, "World's greatest living explorer,” Sir Ranulph Fiennes, British adventurer and author, wrote the controversial novel The Feather Men in 1991. Based on events witnessed by Fiennes during his career in the British Army and the SAS, The Feather Men is a gripping and thrilling story of ex-SAS soldiers going up against the world's most elite operatives in a murderous revenge-seeking operation.

When a friend handed Gary McKendry a copy of the Fiennes book, The Feather Men, he had little idea that this would start him on a journey that would take almost seven years to come to fruition.

But the whole process started with the controversial, non-fiction Fiennes book.

THE BACKGROUND TO A CONTROVERSIAL NOVEL

THE SOURCE: The Feather Men by Sir Ranulph Fiennes

Ranulph Fiennes was born in 1944 and educated at Eton. He served with the Royal Scots Greys before joining the SAS, becoming the youngest Captain in the British Army. In 1968 he joined the Army of the Sultan of Oman and in 1970 he was awarded the Sultan's Bravery Medal. Since 1969 Ranulph Fiennes has been at the forefront of many expeditions. Dubbed the 'World's Greatest Living Explorer' by the Guinness Book of Records, he has worked to raise significant amounts for various charities, and in 1993 Sir Ranulph Fiennes was awarded an OBE for Human Endeavour and Charitable Services.

Delving deeply into the grisly aspects of one of Britain's dirtiest little wars and the repercussions of the assassinations and political scandal that followed, the book also detailed the existence of a secret society of powerful ex-SAS officers whose charter was to go to any lengths necessary to protect their fellow SAS soldiers, past and present.

Fiennes, who served in the SAS, vouched for the authenticity of the events portrayed in the book. But his contention was that the elite Feather Men had covered up the contract killing of the SAS soldiers by making them appear as accidental deaths; and since all details of the SAS' role in the Omani war are still highly classified by the British government, there has been no way to totally authenticate many of the events portrayed as facts in the book.

With no way to confirm fact versus fiction, Australian Writer Matt Sherring and Director Gary McKendry collaborated closely to make a film based on known factual events but dramatized and condensed for the big screen.

McKendry notes, "We don't know if every part of this happened or not. But I do know it's a fantastic story. And we set out to make a great film.

THE SCREENPLAY: KILLER ELITE by Matt Sherring

The shadowy and complex nature of the story based on the events in Fiennes' book led director Gary McKendry and writer Matt Sherring to begin their rethinking of the book with, of all things, the ending.

Sherring explains: "When you read the book, Fiennes doesn't tell you what happened to Danny or to Spike in the end. Where they went, what they did just wasn't finalized. We felt you couldn't get to the end of the film and say ‘Well, we don't know what happened to these people we've been following for two hours.'”

Adapting such a complex storyline for the screen brought its own difficulties. Sherring says: "It's quite a long, complex book, with a time-span of seventeen years, so we really had to condense it.” McKendry adds that it was a matter of "trimming down the number of characters, the number of locations, the number of victims, and the number of incidents. It really was about simplification while keeping the excitement of a very complicated story.”

Being a part of a films with a dramatic story was important to Jason Statham, who adds, "A lot of the films we see now in the movie theaters are just pure fantas. It's all about the explosions and the action and there are no characters in them that you care about. This is about real people doing real things and trying to overcome a situation. I think there's a lot to be said for that and if you can tie that kind of dramatic situation with action, then I think you've got a great movie.”

THE INTERNATIONAL STORY BECOMES AN AUSTRALIAN FILM

Enter Omnilab Media, Australia and New Zealand's largest independently owned media company. Having already produced a string of successful films, they were developing a roster of new international films when KILLER ELITE came to their attention through producers Joni Sighvatsson and Steve Chasman. Omnilab Executive Producers Christopher Mapp and Matthew Street were impressed with the passion of the producers and the creative take on the material by McKendry. Omnilab had also worked successfully before with Chasman and Jason Statham, so everything just felt right about this project from the beginning. Executive Producer Christopher Mapp says: "Having had such a success with Jason Statham and Steve Chasman on the film The Bank Job, we were looking for another great film to do together. We were excited about Gary's passion and vision for the film, and when Jason confirmed he was committed to playing Danny we then began looking at securing the best actors to play the roles of Spike and Hunter, which turned out to be Clive Owen and Robert De Niro.”

After securing the rights to the project, Omnilab's production arm, Ambience Entertainment, brought on Australian Producers Michael Boughen and Tony Winley.

Much of the casting came from the Australian talent pool, with Dominic Purcell, Yvonne Strahovski, Ben Mendelsohn, Aden Young, and up-and-coming talent Firass Dirani all taking key roles.

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