Dream Horse, starring Toni Collette and Damien Lewis, gears up for spring shoot

Film4, Ingenious Media, Ffilm Cymru Wales present a RAW production; Warner Bros to distribute in the UK and Cornerstone Films will handle international sales and distribution


Channel 4

DREAM HORSE is the true story of one woman’s extraordinary dream to breed and raise a champion racehorse on the allotment of her forgotten Welsh village - and of how she brings her entire community with her.

Toni Collette (Hereditary, Velvet Buzzsaw, About A Boy) will take the role of Jan. Damian Lewis (the upcoming Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Billions, Homeland) will play Howard Davies, the local accountant she persuades to join her in running the racing syndicate. Toni Collette is represented by CAA, Finley Management, Jackoway Austen Tyerman Law and United Management in Australia. Damian Lewis is represented by United Talent Agency and Jackoway Austen Tyerman Law in the US and Markham, Froggatt and Irwin in the UK.

Jan Vokes, a middle-aged barmaid at a working men’s club, recruits her initially reluctant husband Brian and local accountant Howard Davies to help her bring together a syndicate of local people to breed a foal - which they name Dream Alliance. On the racetrack, he proves himself to be more than a match for the multi-million pound racehorses he comes up against – a true working-class champion, taking on the establishment at their own game. But much more than this, Dream begins to alter the lives of everyone in the syndicate, not least Jan’s. He is everything to her: friend, confidant and an escape from a life of always putting other people’s needs first.

DREAM HORSE is a classic story of triumph against adversity, and a tale of how a woman strives to make her dream a reality in a place where hope is thin on the ground.

Euros Lyn (Bafta award-winning director of Happy Valley, Kiri, Damilola Our Loved Boy, Sherlock and Black Mirror), will direct DREAM HORSE. Euros said ‘I grew up in the Welsh valleys where everyone knows this story - it’s a local legend. The moment I read Neil’s brilliant script I knew I had to direct this funny and moving film. Casting Toni Collette as Jan Vokes, our extraordinary heroine and Damian Lewis as Howard Davies, her intriguingly conflicted accomplice is my own dream come true. They’re the perfect actors to tell this true story of how against all the odds, an ordinary woman inspires her community to go on the ride of a lifetime and rediscover a sense of hope.’

The film has been written by BAFTA winning writer Neil McKay (The Moorside, Mo, Appropriate Adult) and was developed with Film4. Film4, Ingenious Media, Ffilm Cymru Wales are funding the film, which is also being supported by the Welsh Government. They are joined by Warner Bros UK who will release in the UK. Cornerstone Films will handle international sales and distribution.

The film will be produced by RAW, whose most recent films were documentary feature Three Identical Strangers and American Animals, and will shoot in Wales. Katherine Butler (American Animals, The Imposter, Frank, Starred Up) will produce with Tracy O’Riordan (The Selfish Giant, Dark River, The Arbor). Executive Producers are Piers Vellacott for Raw, Daniel Battsek and Ollie Madden for Film4, Peter Touche and Stephen Dailey for Ingenious Media, Pauline Burt for Ffilm Cymru Wales

The true story behind the film was previously told in the documentary Dark Horse, produced by Judith Dawson and directed by Louise Osmond, also backed by Film4. It won the World Cinema Audience Award at Sundance before being released by Picturehouse in the UK and Sony Pictures Classics in the US.

Producer Katherine Butler said ‘I fell in love with this story when I first heard about Louise Osmond’s documentary - and when I met the real people involved, I was hugely inspired by both their steely determination and their joyous outlook on life. Our brilliant writer Neil McKay spent hours with many of the people whose story this is to craft an exciting, moving and often hilarious script. And Euros Lyn’s immediate and passionate response to the script completely convinced us that he was born to direct this film. We couldn’t be more thrilled with our dream casting of Toni Collette and Damian Lewis, and together with the support of all our financiers, the local welsh cast and crew and the horse racing community, we are off to the races!’

Notes to Editors

RAW is an independent TV & Film production company based in London. Established by Dimitri Doganis in 2001, it is now part of the All3Media group. It has enjoyed a string of successful series and one-offs in the U.K. and U.S., originally in unscripted documentary and reality genres. RAW moved into drama in 2014 following the appointment of Katherine Butler to head the Scripted Film and Television Department.

RAW’s first narrative feature film, BIFA winner American Animals, directed by Bart Layton, premiered at Sundance in 2018 alongside Tim Wardle’s BAFTA nominated documentary feature Three Identical Strangers, winner of the Festival's Special Jury Award. Scripted credits also include the award-winning feature documentary The Imposter, the critically acclaimed Cyberbully (C4) in the U.K., and the highly successful mini-series Harley and the Davidsons (Discovery) in the U.S. RAW currently has three films scheduled for production this year and nine more in funded development, including the narrative adaptation of Three Identical Strangers, Bart Layton’s next film Ravens and BAFTA winner Michael Pearce’s second film Invasion.

RAW also produces Discovery’s most successful long-running TV series Gold Rush and Locked Up Abroad now in its twelfth season (National Geographic Channel). For CNN, RAW has produced The Kennedys and the current series The Bush Years, as well as the recent Presidents at War for History Channel. Recent U.K. TV credits include the award-winning Chris Packham: Asperger’s and Me, Drowning in Plastic and the forthcoming Surrogacy with Tom Daley and Nadiya on Anxiety (BBC).


Warner Bros. Entertainment UK is a fully integrated, broad-based entertainment company and a leader in the creation, production, distribution, licensing and marketing of all forms of entertainment and their related businesses. A WarnerMedia Company, the fully integrated, broad-based Studio is home to one of the most successful collections of brands in the world and stands at the forefront of every aspect of the entertainment industry from feature film, television and home entertainment production and worldwide distribution to DVD and Blu-ray, digital distribution, animation, comic books, video games, product and brand licensing, and broadcasting. WBEUK, led by Josh Berger, is based in Warner House, Holborn, London (with a small regional office in Dublin, Ireland) and has the broadest footprint of businesses outside of the US, including; Warner Bros. Television Production UK (formerly Shed Media), Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, TT Games, Rocksteady Studios and WB De Lane Lea


Founded in 2015 by Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder, Cornerstone Films is a London/LA based production, sales and financing company with a focus on feature films of enduring quality and distinctive story-telling. Working closely with our German partners, X-Filme and Beta Cinema, the Cornerstone team is passionately committed to curating a diverse range of films that reflect the world around us, ranging from authored, intimate film-making, to commercial wide release films. We immerse ourselves in every stage of a film’s journey collaborating closely with our partners from inception through to exploitation.

Cornerstone’s current slate includes: Bart Freundlich’s remake of Susanne Bier’s After the Wedding starring Academy Award Winner Julianne Moore and Golden Globe Winner, Michelle Williams, BAFTA Nominee, Gurinder Chadha’s Blinded by the Light featuring music from Bruce Springsteen, Sophie Hyde’s Animals, starring Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat, Mirrah Foulkes’ feature film directorial debut, Judy and Punch starring Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s directorial debut The Boy who Harnessed the Wind, which all screened at the Sundance Film Festival; Gregor Jordan’s Dirt Music starring Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominee Kelly Macdonald, Garrett Hedlund and David Wenham, Two-time Academy Award-nominee Dan Krauss’s The Kill Team starring Golden Globe winner Alexander Skarsgard and Nat Wolff, BAFTA Winner Mike Leigh’s British historical drama Peterloo which had its world premiere, screening in Competition, at the Venice Film Festival, Academy Award Nominee Henry-Alex Rubin’s crime-thriller Semper Fi starring Nat Wolff and Jai Courtney; Shirley written by Sarah Gubbins to be directed by Josephine Decker starring Golden Globe winner Elizabeth Moss and Golden Globe nominee, Michael Stuhlbarg and Academy Award Winner Christoph Waltz’s directorial debut Georgetown starring Christoph Waltz, Academy Award Winner, Vanessa Redgrave, and Academy Award Nominee, Annette Bening. For more information, please visit https://cornerstonefilm.com/


For 20 years, Ingenious has been at the forefront of investing in the global creative economy and in that time has raised and deployed over $10 billion. Ingenious has been involved in the production of a diverse slate of films, including the award-winning Life of Pi, Avatar, Oscar-nominated Carol, Brooklyn and Selma, five films in the successful X-Men franchise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, breakout British hits Suffragette and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, as well as acclaimed television programmes such as The Fall, Dr. Foster and The Honourable Woman. Titles currently in production include Judy starring Renée Zellweger, Pete Cattaneo’s Military Wives starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan, Benedict Andrews’s Against All Enemies starring Kristen Stewart and Jack O’Connell, Honest Thief starring Liam Neeson and Kate Walsh, and Misbehaviour starring Keira Knightley. Recent titles include Sundance Film Festival crowd-pleaser Blinded by the Light featuring the music of Bruce Springsteen, which was acquired by New Line Cinema.


Film4 is Channel 4 Television’s feature film division. Film4 develops and co-finances films and is known for working with the most distinctive and innovative talent in UK and international filmmaking, both new and established.

Film4 has developed and co-financed many of the most successful UK films of recent years, Academy Award®-winners such as Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, Asif Kapadia’s box office record breaking documentary Amy, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire and Phyllida Lloyd’s The Iron Lady, in addition to critically-acclaimed award-winners such as Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War, Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not a Witch, Chris Morris’s Four Lions, Shane Meadows’ This is England, Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin and Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years.

Film4’s recent releases include Stephen Merchant’s Fighting With My Family, Sebastián Lelio’s Disobedience, Steve McQueen’s Widows, Mike Leigh’s Peterloo, Tinge Krishnan’s Been So Long, Bart Layton’s American Animals, Clio Barnard’s Dark River and Michael Pearce’s Beast. Forthcoming releases include Tom Harper’s Wild Rose, Chris Morris’s The Day Shall Come and Asif Kapadia’s Diego Maradona. Films in production include Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield, Michael Winterbottom’s Greed, Sarah Gavron’s ‘Untitled Girls Film’, Nick Rowland’s Calm With Horses, Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang, Coky Giedroyc’s adaptation of Caitlin Moran’s How To Build a Girl, Gregor Jordan’s Dirt Music, Ben Sharrock’s Limbo, Cathy Brady’s Wildfire, Rose Glass’s Saint Maud and Chaplin from Peter Middleton and James Spinney.

For further information please visit www.film4productions.com.


Ffilm Cymru Wales is the development agency for Welsh film. We support film development, film production, film education, film exhibition, film business development and filmmaker career progression; we offer training and advice for those aspiring to be in or already in the film sector, and advocate for Welsh filmmakers and film policy that works for the people of Wales.


Source Channel 4

March 14, 2019 8:27am ET by Channel 4  


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