Deadpan Pictures, the Ireland based independent production company behind Moone Boy and Can’t Cope Won’t Cope, has appointed three development executives as part of its company expansion.

Sam Atwell, Aisling Kiely and Eleanor White join as head of Development, Development producer and Development executive, respectively. All are in position with immediate effect and are based at the production company’s office in Dublin.

Deadpan Pictures is currently in production on new Dublin-set drama Northern Lights, as lead producers, with Belgian coproducers Potemkino and Lionsgate handling international rights. Deadpan Pictures were recently awarded company support through the Screen Ireland Creative Future Fund as part of their investment into Irish film and television production.

Deadpan Pictures was founded in 2014 by producers Paul Donovan and Ailish McElmeel.The three newly created roles will support Donovan and McElmeel to grow their development slate, with a focus on high-end drama with a distinctly Irish comedic twist.

Sam Atwell, in the role of head of Development joins from RTÉ, where he was responsible for new series for RTÉ’s drama slate, working on the dramas Hidden Assets, North Sea Connection, Smother and executive producing Storyland. With a background in acting, directing, writing, and producing, Atwell honed his craft working in theatre and returning drama series, including Seven Network’s hit Australian series Home & Away. Moving to Ireland in 2014 saw Atwell take up positions as series consultant and director on RTÉ’s long-running drama Fair City, as story editor for Jam Media, in which he worked editorially across the development slate to create and build a bedrock of scripts and stories across multiple programmes, and as an executive producer at Liberty Video, where his credits include short films The Wall and Forever Hold Your Peace.

Development producer Aisling Kiely joins Deadpan Pictures with experience in UK and international development and script consultation, with series credits across BBC, ITV, NBC, and Sky, through positions held within Roughcut TV, Working Title Television, Twelve Town and Endor Productions. Kiely’s credits include Bloods series 2 for Sky, You, Me and the Apocalypse for Sky 1 & NBC, Midsomer Murders for ITV and BBC’s long-running drama Casualty.

Eleanor White completes the new hires trio, as Development executive. With an extensive background in theatre across multiple territories (US, UK and Ireland), White joins the production company in her first television role. Coming from the Traverse Theatre where she was literary manager, White drove all aspects of the commissioning process and the development of new writers of all levels. She has worked as a script consultant with the Abbey Theatre, Druid Theatre Company, Landmark Productions, Signature Theatre Company and Irish Arts Center in New York, and her theatre credits include Wilf by James Ley, Still by Frances Poet, Crocodile Fever by Meghan Tyler, and The Saviour by Deirdre Kinahan.

Paul Donovan and Ailish McElmeel, co-founders of Deadpan Pictures said of the appointments:
“It’s a really exciting time for Deadpan Pictures as our team expands to support the growth of our business. We’ve assembled this talented development team in Sam, Aisling and Eleanor who share – and will also challenge and broaden – our taste, and we look forward to bringing more Deadpan drama to market.”

Sam Atwell said: “Off the back of producing the very exciting Northern Lights, I’m thrilled to join the wonderful team at Deadpan in this capacity to continue to develop our unique brand of heartfelt and ground-breaking television by working with the very best Irish and International talent.”

Aisling Kiely said: “It’s an honour to join Deadpan Pictures, given their track record at identifying and promoting world-class new writing talent. For me, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to work with Ailish and Paul, and the talented team they have gathered, back in Dublin. I’m looking forward to the next stage as we propel the company forward, bringing stand-out Irish drama, with a comedy edge, to new international audiences.”

Eleanor White said: “It’s a thrill to be joining the brilliant Deadpan team at this very exciting time for the company. I’m looking forward to supporting the development of ambitious, forward-looking, big-hearted television with a uniquely Irish voice.”

Based in Dublin, Deadpan Pictures launched in 2014, under the helm of producers Paul Donovan and Ailish McElmeel with an ambition to create drama with a comedic tone and a distinct Irish flavour to appeal to international audiences. Their award-winning and critically acclaimed television and film slate includes season 2 of hit US show Departure (Global / Sky), Sharon Horgan and Lorna Martin’s Women on the Verge (UKTV), Dead Still (RTÉ / Acorn TV), Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope (Netflix/ BBC), the ratings hit The South Westerlies (RTÉ/ Acorn TV), drama series Nowhere Fast (RTÉ2), The Last Right (Eone), Halal Daddy (Global Screen) and hit family film Four Kids and It for Sky, working with on-screen talent including Michael Caine, Sharon Horgan, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, Russell Brand, Paula Patton, Orla Brady, Michael Smiley, Nina Sosanya, Colm Meaney, Art Malik, Michiel Huisman, Aisling Bea and Chris O’Dowd.

Prior to Deadpan Pictures, Donovan co-founded Grand Pictures, under which he and McElmeel executive produced 3 seasons of the International Emmy-award winning series Moone Boy for Sky, and two seasons of Golden Nymph-nominated series Trivia for RTÉ. With a drive to focus on television production in addition to film, Donovan and McElmeel created Deadpan Pictures to pursue this area of growth.

Deadpan Pictures recently announced it is in production on Irish-Belgian drama Northern Lights , alongside Belgian production company Potemkino. The six-part darkly humorous drama series tells the story of two grieving strangers whose worlds collide on a rainy night in Dublin and is for TG4 in Ireland and Streamz in Belgian, in association with Screen Ireland. The series is distributed globally (except for Ireland) by Lionsgate Television.


Pippa Considine

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