New Zealand rugby icon Jonah Lomu and former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel will be the subjects of two new documentaries from UK-based sales agent and distributor Dogwoof and Sylver Entertainment.
The companies previously collaborated on “McEnroe,” a documentary about the tennis great John McEnroe, which was released in UK cinemas in July and premiered on Showtime on Sept. 2.
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As development financiers and executive producers on both projects, Dogwoof will be presenting the projects to buyers at the Toronto International Film Festival this week.
“Lomu” is centered on the late Jonah Lomu, one of the greatest rugby players of all time. Lomu was a Tongan/Kiwi warrior who could run 100 meters in under 11 seconds. He was the youngest All Black to put on the jersey and still holds the record for the most tries scored in World Cup history. The film about his life is being made with the cooperation of his family, and will trace Lomu’s humble beginnings to playing for the National Team to his battle with failing health.
A co-production between Sylver Entertainment and New Zealand-based Tahi Productions, the film will be directed by Gavin FitzGerald and co-directed by Vea Mafile’o.
FitzGerald is an award-winning director whose credits include “Conor McGregor: Notorious” (2017), the highest grossing Irish documentary of all time, and “Liam Gallagher: As It Was” (2019), while Mafile’o is an award- winning director-producer whose feature documentary “For My Father’s Kingdom” had its world premiere at the Berlinale in 2019 alongside her short film documentary “Toa`ipuapuaga.”
“Lomu” is produced by Victoria Barrell and Simon Lazenby for Sylver Entertainment, as well as Victoria Dabbs and Emma Slade for Tahi.
The pic is expected to deliver in Q3 of 2023, in time for next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Meanwhile, “Schmeichel” tells the story of the best goalkeeper of all time, Peter Schmeichel. In a professional career spanning 22 years, Schmeichel is the most decorated goalkeeper in Premier League history, was part of the Danish football team that won the European Championship against all odds in 1992 and captained Manchester United in the Champions League final victory that clinched the treble. in 1999.
The project is directed by Owen Davies who, working closely with director Jonny Owen, has cut such features as “I Believe in Miracles,” “The Three Kings” and the BAFTA Cymru-nominated “Don’t Take Me Home.”
The doc is produced by Barrell and Lazenby for Sylver Entertainment, and is executive produced by Owen. The film has just completed development and is expected to deliver in 2024.
“Lomu” and “Schmeichel” are the latest sporting additions to Dogwoof’s slate, which in addition to “McEnroe” (2022), also includes “Shane” (2022), about late cricketer Shane Warner, which is now on Prime Video; and “Citizen Ashe” (2021), about tennis player Arthur Ashe, which sold to CNN/HBO Max.
Oli Harbottle, in his newly promoted role as chief content officer for Dogwoof, said: “As we continue to identify strategic production partners, Sylver Entertainment was an obvious choice after our collaboration on ‘McEnroe.’ With their determination to make premium sports documentaries which dig deeper than most, we are hugely excited to be bringing the untold definitive stories of two sporting legends to the world.”
Barrell and Lazenby of Sylver Entertainment added: “Both Jonah Lomu and Peter Schmeichel were icons of their chosen sports and although their stories are very different, at their core they have a humanity that will appeal to a much broader audience than simply sports fans.”
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