Sometime in April Scott Ferguson discovered that someone had dropped the ball with regard to John Nichols at Allied Artists, who after waiting six months to hear about the development of DEATH OF A SHINING STAR had put his available funding into another project and would no longer be able to fund half the film. That was the first time we considered ending our association with ShadowHawk; we would have done so if it hadn’t been for Frank Cmero and his supposed development money for GO WEST, YOU IDIOT!.
Naturally, everyone at ShadowHawk started to flail around and blame one another for what had happened, but in the end it would be Brian Eustace, the veteran filmmaker who was now in a weakened condition due to a severe injury from a car accident who would take the blame.
I had this letter from Cathal Byrne at the beginning of May:
I have been looking for information regarding the development of DEATH OF A SHINING STAR and have found very little available. I understand there has been a lot of communication, however the information has not been distributed accurately, and this can cause confusion as we all attempt to gain a key structure of security with the investors. Anthony Whelan and Brian Eustace are producing as ShadowHawk Films & Realt Entertainment will be the production companies for the project. Therefore any and all information or emails regarding the development of DEATH OF A SHINING STAR should be copied to Anthony, Brian, Debora, Scott, Amanda and myself. Please ensure that everybody is kept up to date on all information, as only working together as a team, and with the right information can we succeed. Thank you for your time with this matter.
Cathal Byrne, Chief Executive
So, think about this – two production companies with no capital were planning to produce a 20 million u.s. feature film. Scott was still trying desperately to get John Nichols to either re-commit to the film or make some kind of statement. On the 13th of May he sent us this letter;
I’m likely a step behind Anthony on this task, but I sent a brief message to John Nichols today and requested he send us his office number. And, just a thought really (as I don’t know the details or truth of this) but, it may be that Nichols is somehow focused on what I understand to be the new re-start of Allied Artists’ Monogram Pictures division under Allied Entertainment Group. It could account for his current position.
The same day Cathal Byrne sent this letter:
I have been informed by Anthony Whelan that we have lost the investment from Allied Artists, the main investor in the DEATH OF A SHINING STAR contract. I put this down to “Lack of Communications” between the production team. Anthony Whelan is going to contact John Nichols at Allied Artists, and hopes we can re-establish some sort of business agreement regarding the financing of the script. I have now assessed the matter, and I am issuing the following as of immediate effect (this was followed by yet another re-assignment of duties to a dozen people, none of whom were being paid, to my knowledge).
So what could have been stranger than to receive, a week later, an offer to become part of ShadowHawk Films and place all our scripts with them? This is the letter we received on the 19th of May:
OK Gang, here is the news:
Cathal Byrne and myself were discussing Lost Myths Ink on Tuesday. As you are all Consultants of the company, ShadowHawk Films would like to offer full agency representation on all scripts. This means we will accept all scripts under two teams:
Finance of Production: We’re financing it Sale of Production: We’re co-producing with other investors. If Lost Myths Ink agrees, I will begin a week-to-week submission request. Alan McNamara has managed to secure a second acquisition agreement with Columbia Tri-Star. This means all new submissions will be considered by the UK and US acquisition offices. If you accept this offer, ShadowHawk will have full management control over your scripts as your production company. If you have any further questions, please contact me.
Regards, Anthony Whelan
OK, this was the point, in May of 2004, when I look back and realize we should have cut our losses and run. There are excuses for why we didn’t – Frank Cmero was promising the development money for GO WEST, YOU IDIOT!, and it was tied into the production of the script by ShadowHawk. And we reasoned that Anthony Whelan was too smart to acquire so many scripts if he had no resources or sources for production. But Anthony Whelan was too much of a dreamer and believed himself to be a much bigger fish in an international ocean than he really was.
Lost Myths Ink was incorporated in April; by the end of May we were awaiting daily news of the development money for GO WEST, YOU IDIOT!. The last communication of the month was from me to Anthony Whelan, who wrote to me that morning to tell me their computer systems and phone/fax lines would be down for 48-hours for updating. My letter to him appears, looking back after years, to be hopeful but confused.
I see new people on the cc list; who are Derek Furlong and David Kiernan? When you guys are functional again we’d like an update on how the new deal with Columbia is progressing – will you be submitting our first three scripts to them for American financing?
We’re waiting for the new agreement to arrive; I’ve already prepped Peter Landes (our entertainment attorney at the time) and he’s ready to review. I should have word this week on when Frank C. Is picking up the development money – I know he’s planning to be in California sometime in June. We are hoping to receive a year’s money in advance – this would mean Tom can quit his present job and work as Sandra’s assistant. We’re going to have a lot of work to do on that project; Brian, Scott and Frank have decided to make it into a mini-series, so we’ll be writing another whole script around the first one. And the novel...we’re ready!
In June there were clues that ShadowHawk didn’t have any...clues, that is. Scott wrote to me on the 9th of the month to say that there were some problems with the all-inclusive contract they’d offered us for our work. It pointed out the most obvious flaws in the contract.
Just a few initial thoughts on the ShadowHawk agreement. It does not specify each of the project titles covered by the agreement. It odes not include the signatures of all collaborators on those projects with shared interests (myself on THE DANGER CLUB and FRUIT OF THE POISON TREE, and myself/Frank on GO WEST, YOU IDIOT!) Or the requirement of an attachment with those signatures. And too, there exists White Tiger’s obligation to represent, under our collaboration agreements, THE DANGER CLUB, FRUIT OF THE POISON TREE and GO WEST, YOU IDIOT!. Also, the ShadowHawk contract might well impact the planning/direction of GO WEST particularly now if Frank gains funding an dif Brian should join us in exploring a mini-series.
ShadowHawk wanted to option GO WEST so, that would be yet another question and does the contract pose a possible conflict of interest because of each of our alignments with ShadowHawk.
Just my observations at this point. Scott
Nobody ever said Scott Ferguson didn’t always have his angle at the fore-front of his mind. The fact that he constantly reminded us of his interests made me realize that he had no real interest in the rest of our work, because he would only receive the normal agent percentage of 15-20%. He owned a third each of THE DANGER CLUB and FRUIT OF THE POISON TREE and a quarter of GO WEST, YOU IDIOT! And was obviously only concerned with those scripts.
However, Scott’s concerns were minor compared with those of our attorney. Peter telephoned me the morning I received that note from Scott, and nixed the entire contract. Too vague, no terms, no projects mentioned, etc. Frank Cmero had already accepted ShadowHawk optioning GO WEST, but there would need to be some language added to the contract concerning the breakdown of shares in that particular film.
Peter Landes was put in charge of drawing up a new agreement, which meant that Lost Myths would be paying for it. Frank Cmero managed to up our investment in GO WEST, YOU IDIOT! That month by asking for a written contract between us for the division and use of the development money. And Tom left his job and came to work for us; that hadn’t been planned, but his company downsized and it seemed like fate had stepped in to tell us the path to take. So we had two employees besides us, and we still hadn’t received any funding. But at the time, that seemed like a short-term problem. Very short-term, according to our business partners.
It was also in June that we started to view the enormous crack developing in the relationship between Brian Eustace and Anthony Whelan. Over the course of the past year, Anthony and I had become close friends, despite the age difference. Amanda and Anthony were becoming close as well, although I wasn’t certain just what kinds of feelings they had for another. I realized that Amanda was falling in love with a man thousands of miles away, but I couldn’t tell how he felt.
On the 16th of the month we received a copy of a letter Anthony wrote to Brian, and it was then we realized that their relationship started to suffer with the loss of the Allied Artists funding, and had rapidly deteriorated from there. It was a strange letter, though, and especially confusing to us, as we were so far away and unable to understand what was really going on over on that little, green island.
First off I hope you’re well, and that all is well? After last Thursday’s remarks about ShadowHawk Films, I have decided that I will no longer tolerate the attitude and smart comments I have been receiving over the past few months. ShadowHawk Films is a professional business, and I expect any business associate to threat (I believe he meant treat, but there you are...no spell-check?) It as such. My staff is well-trained and our titles are not for show, but are given to the person as they deal in that area.
I have spoken to Debora Hill and told her I will no longer take this sort of attack. I have also consulted with Cathal Byrne in relation to the matter. You know I respect you and your business at the upmost, and I believe it is comment (common?) Courteous (courtesy?) To do the same. I also know that you are a well-experienced man and your insight to the business is vast, and we are thankful to have you as a member of the team, but it is a team, and rules are in place.
In order to move forward I am requesting the following. 1. That these personal attacks on ShadowHawk Films stop at once. Any flaws you feel the company has, please be more pleasant about. 2. Alan McNamara is the Head of Television & Motion Picture Development. As such Alan will decide who produces the scripts. For DEATH OF A SHINING STAR, Alan has chosen you and I, and we have decided you shall direct it. But at ALL times Alan controls the contract and continues flow of information (not sure what he meant to say, here...) Is required in order to move forward.
Ms. Debora Hill is a client, and as such we are committed. Cathal Byrne is at present discussing a contract which will see ShadowHawk Films in control of all script distributions. We have a number of major buyers in the wings, and we are hoping they will open a financial door for us.
There will be a weekly development from Monday the 28th on. I have spoken to all members and they are aware of their responsibilities. I have just outlined yours. For the good everyone I now wish/request to move forward with the hope of succeeding. I thank you for your time with this matter. If you have any questions regarding please contact me. Talk (take?) Care and many blessings to you and your family.
Anthony Whelan, Managing Director
Sometime between that letter and the 21st of that month, Brian and Anthony imploded and stopped speaking to one another, much less making any progress on our business. The problem with working with people in another country is the lack of communication; you would think with telephones and email there would be instant communication regarding important matters at all times; alas, many times that isn’t true. And this was definitely one of those times. On the 21st I received this letter from Cathal Byrne:
Until further notice Brian Eustace is not to receive any emails regarding the development of United Film Productions International. This includes ShadowHawk and Lost Myths Ink business. Brian is refusing to comply with our procedures. Should anyone have any problems regarding this matter, contact Alan or myself. Thank you.
Cathal Byrne, Chief Executive
I replied the same day, feeling our sand-castle crumbling around me.
Here’s the problem. I am still in communication with Brian: he will be telephoning me sometime today. Also, he is in communication with Frank Cmero, the principal in Go West, You Idiot! As you probably know, Frank is in Europe arranging for the development money, which he will be sending to the states at the end of the month. We will be holding the money in the Lost Myths Ink account until he arrives, sometime during the last two weeks of July.
While Scott has authorized us to include Go West in the new ShadowHawk agreement, Frank has not yet done so. He said he would be reading the contract today and addressing all his emails, so I hope to hear from him regarding the authorization tonight. But...we are walking a fine line, here. If Frank refuses authorization because you no longer want to work with Brian but he does...that script cannot be included in the agreement. You see my dilemma? Please advise...
Debora and the Lost Myths Ink team
That started my attempts to keep Brian and Anthony working together. It didn’t work, needles to say, and it wasn’t until more than two years later that I discovered Brian was right. His take on the situation was that Anthony Whelan was mentally ill; he had incredible dreams and delusions of grandeur far beyond his experience or abilities. While I had always enjoyed a good relationship with Anthony, even at the time I thought he was behaving like a man who had already made a number of films and won awards for them, rather than a very young man only a few years out of college, who hadn’t ever made a feature. His next letter to Brian Eustace showed he was still hoping to keep him in the fold, but only on his terms.
The subject of last week’s email was business dealings between ShadowHawk Films and Realt Entertainment, and not my personal health. For the record, however, I would like to point out that I do not suffer from stress. I did have this problem in the past; however I have now taken steps to a more relaxing and stress-free life. I thank you for your concern, however, I will continue to outline the business problem until the matter is addressed.
As you know, Realt Entertainment is an Associate of ShadowHawk films, and both companies are divisions of United Film Productions International. Lost Myths Ink is a client of ShadowHawk Films, and therefore we have their best interests at heart. Once ShadowHawk Films agrees to take on a script it is optioned to us; this means we are in control of the development and distribution of that script. We then work through our network of connections in order to gain the finance and professional personnel needed to produce the script. While we remind the client none of this is guaranteed, they have our insurance (assurance?) That ShadowHawk Films will give it there (their) best.
In regards to Death of a Shining Star and other scripts under the title of “Lost Myths Ink” ShadowHawk Films has chosen to include you as a member/director of these scripts. Nevertheless, the control and final decision of these scripts remain that of ShadowHawk Films.
At this point Realt Entertainment has failed to keep us informed of developments regarding (what, exactly???). I now request that all information and developments made by Realt Entertainment on behalf of ShadowHawk Films for Lost Myths Ink be reported to Alan McNamara. As I said, we have the client’s best interest at heart and ONLY if the right steps are taking (taken) and people are kept informed will we succeed as a team and everyone will gain. Please now insure (ensure) that these procedures are kept.
I thank you again for your time with this matter and wish you and your family the best, and hope you are all well. If you have any questions regarding this email, please contact me. Thank you.
Anthony Whelan, Managing Director
That same day I received a reply from Cathal Byrne to my letter regarding the issues of Brian Eustace and Go West, You Idiot! Basically, this was when they started to attempt to control our business, even though they had never paid us anything to be a part of their company, and they had not yet raised any funding for our films.
We will deal with the bridge when we come to it. In relation to Brian and Frank, my biggest problem is that Brian has refused to give us any information. He has also refused to call us. He is going over our heads, which is something he can’t and I won’t allow him to do. Therefore, until Brian has decided what his future is with UFPI I will request that he not be copied in any emails, called by phone, or receive faxes and further documents regarding (what???). I understand this is a hard request, but it is a request I need followed. If he emails, no response, and only speak to him by phone when he calls and I urge you to give away as little information as possible. ShadowHawk is here for you, and as your reprehensive (I know this was a typo, but how Freudian can it get?) We want to give you all the best we can in producing these scripts. I feel Brian is here for himself, and his attitude towards Anthony and the company shows that. So until further notice, please stick to my request. Any questions please contact me. Thank you.
That was the first example of Anthony Whelan and Cathal Byrne’s complete inability to play well with others – over the course of the next two years, we would have many more instances of this. On the 28th of June we signed the all-inclusive contract with ShadowHawk that our attorney, Peter Landes, rewrote and they approved. The day they accepted the revised contract I received a copy of a letter Cathal Byrne wrote to Brian Eustace:
It has come to my understanding that you believe you are entitled to an apology from us over recent events? I do not agree, and feel if anyone deserves an apology it is Anthony Whelan and ShadowHawk Films. At this stage we have maintained a professional level and struggled to reach a decision that would allow us all to continue as co-workers. Despite our best efforts, you still believe you have the right to dictate terms to us regarding the development and management of our business.
Under the terms of our agreement the leading party involved controls the decisions of the contract. Therefore was we have complied with your terms when we worked for you, we expect the same when working for us. You have withheld information and refused to keep us informed of the developments of our production, and when we kindly and professional(ly) tried to clam (???) The matter you again dictate your terms.
This sort of behavior will not be accepted by us, and we have clients who expect results. Therefore, as the Chief Executive of ShadowHawk Films and United Film Productions International, I am now informing you that all your business with us has been discontinued as of today, Monday the 28th of June, 2004. This includes all contracts with ShadowHawk Films, PETKOV Graphics, Lost Myths Ink and White Tiger Entertainment.
I am sorry it had to come to this, and Anthony and myself with you and yours the best for the future. Thank you for your time with this email, and I believe that concludes our business.
Cathal Byrne, Chief Executive
I wouldn’t speak to Brian Eustace for more than two years, and during the interim he nearly died from cancer and was hospitalized for an extended period of time. But on that same day in June of 2004, Anthony Whelan wrote us a letter as well – it was a busy day.
Deb, I’m just going to waffle on here and you can fill them all in, regarding our earlier conversation. Right people – this is how it goes. We are setting up to except (accept) all your scripts. At the moment we have just confirmed that “Death of a Shining Star” is ready for Distribution. This script is now under the control of Alan McNamara. Alan has issued the following: Golden Rule – not one more copy of this script or any script is to be released without his approval. This is to track script development. Should you wish to send someone a copy you must make a request by email. If approved, you fill in the form attached. At the end of every month, post all forms.
The Production Team for Shining Star is:
Executive Producer: Cathal Byrne (the financial officer?)
Producers: Anthony Whelan and Alan McNamara
Associate Producer: Debora Hill
In regards to development, every Thursday there will be a report released regarding development, starting Thursday the 9th. Questions regarding these reports must be addressed to Alan McNamara and only Alan. Any additional questions or information are to be emailed to Alan and copied to Anthony or vice versa. I will ring Debora to explain this further.
Anthony Whelan, Managing Director
It was after this letter that Anthony Whelan decided I was his confidante and new best friend. I’m not sure what triggered this; we had been working with ShadowHawk for two years before I ever talked to him on the telephone. Now it was surprising if a day went by without a call from him, and usually a lengthy one. It was obvious that Anthony and Amanda were becoming close friends as well; they were both shy, but close to the same age, and our business was a chance for them to get to know one another without taking any risks.
At the same time, Anthony became obsessed with forms and categories, titles and departments, as if he could make up for the defection of his mentor by compartmentalizing everything that happened. On the 29th this letter arrived; Anthony was working overtime to confuse everyone involved.
In regards to our conversation, please find Acquisition Forms attached (at this point we were dealing with something like a dozen different forms Anthony Whelan wanted to use).
Form I: “Submission Guidelines”. If anyone wishes to submit a script to you please have them read over the submission guidelines first. (One of Anthony’s half-baked ideas was for Tom Brandenburg to handle scripts by other writers, for submission to ShadowHawk – which seemed ridiculous even then, since they had been unable to finance anything to-date).
Form 2: “Release Form” & “Script Submission Application”. All script submissions must have these two forms attached.
Form 3: “Release Form” Ideas/Synopsis must have a release form and an approval code from you. I.E. Lost Myths Ink LMI0001 (we never did this, pretty much ignored it).
Form 4: “Notice of Return”. If submissions do not contain the correct forms, return with the notice and tick the required box.
Form 5: “Executive Report”. While reading a script, take notes and complete your report at the end.
In regards Form 2: If forms are correct, read the script and make a decision. If approved, send script go Geraldine in Dublin.
In regards Form 3: If forms are correct, read the idea/synopsis and make a decision. If approved, send script to Geraldine in Dublin.
In regards Form 5: When completed your report, apply your opinion was to weather (whether) it should be a ‘Finance of Production’ ShadowHawk makes or ‘Sale of Production’ ShadowHawk co-produces in the acquisition part of your form.
Keep receipts of all scripts sent to Dublin and at the end of the year ShadowHawk will return the cost. Any questions regarding any of the above, please contact me. Thank you.
That same day began the long and fruitless campaign on the part of Alan McNamara to retrieve the work done on DEATH OF A SHINING STAR, including the budget we had never seen. His first letter read thus:
Since your business has been ceased with us, I am now requesting that you please forward all documentation you have regarding DEATH OF A SHINING STAR. The matter has been discussed with Lost Myths Ink personnel. I would gratefully appreciate if you could forward them to me at the ShadowHawk address. If you would like the postage cost please contact me and I will issue you the amount immediately. Thank you for your time – any questions please contact me.
General Manager, Television & Motion Picture Group
Of course, there was never a response from Brian. We sent Alan what Amanda and I did on our end; there was quite a bit, but without that budget or the other things he worked up, we were left with a huge hole. The next day was when Frank Cmero’s project took center stage in our lives, and became entwined with ShadowHawk.