Antonio Banderas’ ‘Gun Shy’ Aims to Crowdfund New Path to Success

Here’s how “Expendables 2” director Simon West tapped a “small group of bright kids” from Cambridge to help finance his new movie.


As the director of films like “Con Air” and “The Expendables 2,” Simon West has worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Nicolas Cage and Sylvester Stallone. But for his latest film, “Gun Shy,” he tapped some less-famous people: He crowdfunded.

The Saban Films comedy (based on the Mark Haskell Smith novel “Salty”) stars Antonio Banderas as an aging rock star who battles rebels in the South American jungle to rescue his kidnapped wife (Olga Kurylenko). It’s the first time a major theatrical release has been crowdfunded, setting U.K. fundraising records along the way.

But West actually started out on the traditional path, looking for equity, before one of his early investors suggested looking into the wisdom — and wallets — of the crowd.

“I didn’t really know about crowdfunding,” West told TheWrap. “I’d heard of Kickstarter and I thought in the past there were just donations from fateful followers and they got a T-shirt or pen.”

But West learned that the rules in the U.K. are different, meaning that investors who participate in crowdfunding actually receive real equity in the project. (Last May, the U.S. legalized equity crowdfunding through the adoption of Title III of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act.)

After evaluating a few potential funding platforms, West and his team decided to go with SyndicateRoom, a company developed by a “small group of bright kids” from Cambridge University.


“They were very enthusiastic about putting a film project on the platform,” he said. “I suppose for them it was a very sexy sell. Instead of a new headache tablet, it was sort of ‘Hollywood goes to the platform.’”

He collected a diverse group of 164 investors. One was a film fan who worked at Radio Shack and scrounged to come up with the minimum investment of £3,000 (about $4,000.) West also won over one skeptic, a finance guy from the City of London who came to one of the few days of shooting in the U.K. to monitor his investment.

“He came with his defenses up — what are these slick Hollywood types doing with my money?” West said. “But he ended up being so enthusiastic, I ended up putting him in the film. Giving him a line.”


West was also able to get the rights to the novel the film was based on — and more — from Smith, the writer, in a highly unorthodox fashion.

“For a bottle of tequila — a good bottle of tequila — I got the option to the book rights and the first draft of the script,” West said.

West said he was pleasantly surprised by the success he had in meeting his fundraising targets, given how many internet ventures go awry. But he positioned himself for the best shot at success.

“I tried to choose a film that modestly budgeted with very broad appeal,” he said. “To give it its best chance. I wasn’t going to make a very obscure, small film that had a very small audience. I tried to make it commercial, broad appeal action-comedy.”

And as “Gun Shy” prepares to hit screens this weekend, that investment will start bearing fruit — and at least a theater full of very loyal fans.

“They’ve got a lottery ticket in their hand,” he said. “They’re actually real shareholders. And I’ve got 164 people who are going to see the movie.”


‘Gun Shy’ Starring Antonio Banderas Lands at Saban

Olga Kurylenko also stars in the film helmed by Simon West.


Saban Films has acquired North American distribution rights to Simon West’s Gun Shy, starring Antonio Banderas and Olga Kurylenko.

The action film was written by Toby Davies and Mark Haskell Smith. West and Jib Polhemus produced under the Simon West Productions banner alongside Harry Stourton.

Adapted from the novel also written by Haskell Smith, Gun Shy (formerly titled Salty) follows Turk Henry (Banderas), an aging mid-level rock star whose supermodel wife (Kurylenko) is suddenly kidnapped while they are vacationing in Chile. Accustomed to his extravagant lifestyle and lacking basic life skills, Turk finds himself perplexed in having to navigate the back alleys of Santiago and South American jungles to save his wife from the renegades.

Gun Shy is a supremely entertaining film,” said Saban Films’ Bill Bromiley. “Our audiences will delight in Antonio Banderas’ raucous performance and director Simon West’s unique and wild vision.”

Gun Shy will be released in theaters on Sept. 8 in key cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. Ness Saban and Bromiley negotiated the deal on behalf of Saban Films, with London-based Carnaby International handling worldwide rights.

Berlin: Olga Kurylenko Talks Getting ‘Salty’ With Antonio Banderas

Leaving James Bond behind, the actress takes on comedy as a kidnapped supermodel wife of an aging rock star.


Former Bond girl (Quantum of Solace) and Terence Malick muse (To the Wonder) Olga Kurylenko turns on the laughs alongside Antonio Banderas in Simon West’s comedy Salty, about an aging rock star whose supermodel wife is kidnapped by shipless pirates. Carnaby is screening the film to buyers at the EFM.

Is this your first comedy role?

I’ve been part of other comedies before, but the roles were never that big. I think this is the biggest and also the first time I really got the taste of comedy. It’s so much fun.

How funny is Antonio Banderas?

He’s hilarious. He’s very natural. He’s Spanish, so has this fire in him. He was going pretty far with the characters.

He wasn’t just doing his Puss in Boots voice all the time?

No, although I love that! What a shame he wasn’t doing it.

Could you be the pampered wife of an aging rock god, like your character?

If I could, I would have done it already! Believe me, I had many opportunities. I was a model, and it’s quite easy to end up surrounded by people who look for those kinds of wives. So if you wanted it, you just grabbed the opportunity. But you have to want it, and I did not. I think I’d die of boredom. But never say never!

You’re also in The Death of Stalin. Is this a different sort of comedy?

It’s a satire, so it’s not that first-degree comedy. But Armando Iannucci is an amazing writer – everything he writes is brilliant. But my role there was not very funny.

Who do you play?

I play Maria Yudina, who was Stalin’s favorite pianist. She was very insolent and hated him. And despite of this, he still admired her work. She was quite a strong woman and didn’t care about the regime and didn’t want to obey.

How are your piano skills?

I had to learn lots of big pieces – Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 23” and Chopin’s preludes … so basically I’m playing a lot of piano! But I did seven years of music school when I was a kid so I know how to play and read music.

Who should play the next James Bond?

There are so many guys. We have an actor in Salty, Ben Cura, who could be a good James Bond, but maybe he’s too young. He’s only 28.

Now In-Production… first look at SALTY, from star Antonio Banderas!

Production for Salty is underway in Santiago, Chile: check out Turk Henry himself, Antonio Banderas!

Day2 on schedule … #horario #atiempo #production #chile #temprano #fabula

A photo posted by SALTY (@saltymovie) on


Olga Kurylenko joins Antonio Banderas in Simon West’s ‘Salty’

Shoot underway in Chile on crowd-funded action-comedy from Con Air director.


Olga Kurylenko (Quantum Of Solace) will star opposite Antonio Banderas in Simon West’s (Con Air) action-comedySalty, which begins principal photography today in Chile.

Kurylenko will play Sheila Enry wife of Banderas’ Turk Enry, an ageing rock star and reformed sex addict married to a supermodel who is abducted by pirates on holiday in Chile.

The partly crowd-funded film is being produced by Los Angeles and UK-based production company, Simon West Productions and is adapted from the novel by Mark Haskell Smith.

Producers are Jib Polhemus (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) and Harry Stourton (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) with screenplay by Mark Haskell Smith (TV series Star Trek Voyager) and Toby Davies (The Mitchell and Webb Look).

Director West said: “I’m delighted Olga has joined Antonio and the rest of the cast. Her talents in both action and comedy make her the perfect ‘Sheila’. I’m excited about the prospect of shooting in Chile, I’ve been very impressed by what I’ve found here in terms of talent and wonderful locations – I know we’re going to make a great movie.”

Cannes 2016: Antonio Banderas to Play Aging Rocker in Simon West’s ‘Salty’

Antonio Banderas is set to put his swashbuckling skills to the test once more, although perhaps in a rather different manner than the efforts he displayed in The Mask of Zorro, Puss in Boots or, most recently, as Burger Beard in The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.

The actor is set to take the lead in action-comedy Salty, directed by Simon West (Con Air,Tomb Raider, The Expendables 2), playing an aging rock star and reformed sex addict married to a supermodel who is abducted by pirates. The film is being sold in the Cannes market by London-based Carnaby.

Billed as “The Hangover-meets-Spinal Tap” and adapted from the novel by Mark Haskell Smith — the story will see Banderas star as Turk Henry, a bassist for a recently split mega-platinum band who takes his pampered wife on an exotic luxury holiday to Chile only for her to be snatched by a group of renegade ship-less buccaneers trying to raise money to buy a boat. Despite having never organized anything more challenging than a club sandwich from room service, Turk embarks on a rescue mission, navigating the back alleys of Santiago through to the jungles of South America.

Principal photography in set to kick off in Chile in June.

Produced by Simon West Productions, Salty is being produced by Jib Polhemus (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Expendables 2, When a Stranger Calls, The Mechanic, Wild Card) and Harry Stourton (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), with Smith having written the screenplay from his own novel alongside Toby Davies (The Mitchell and Webb Look, Yonderland). Exec producers include Rene Besson (The Mechanic, Drive Angry, Homefront), Hannah Leader (Damascus Cover, Lucky Number Slevin, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) and Cassian Elwes (Dallas Buyers Club, Lawless, Blue Valentine).Carnaby’s Sean O’Kelly (Iron Sky, Damascus Cover, Kids in Love) and Andy Loveday (The Wee Man,Rise of the Footsoldier, Rise of the Krays) are also exec producing.

“Finally three of my passions together — cinema, music and humor” Banderas told The Hollywood Reporter.

Added West: “I’m going to shoot Salty in a style that will exude energy, fun and glamor with elaborate and exciting action sequences very much in the vein of my previous films. With Antonio on board, it’s going to be a phenomenal picture.”

Salty broke U.K. records last year when it became largest equity crowdfunded film of all time, inviting members of the British public to own a stake in the film’s profits. It’s the first significant Hollywood film to be funded in this way.

Alongside Salty, West also has The Blob remake — starring Samuel L. Jackson — and Iraqi war actioner Thunder Run on his upcoming slate of projects.



First look at director Simon West scouting some spectacular locations in Chile!



Simon West’s ‘Salty’ sets UK crowdfunding record

Simon West’s action-comedy Salty has become the most successful UK film on a crowd-funding platform to date, raising £1.9m ($2.8m), according to the production.

The film hit its crowdfunding target of £1.8m ($2.7m) on March 14 with additional investment available until next weekend.

The project is raising money through platform SyndicateRoom with investors promised a stake in the film’s profits.

The rest of the film’s $10m budget is due to be raised through angel investment, tax credit returns and pre-sales.

Carnaby handles sales on the film and has inked pre-sales with Indonesia (PT Prima Cinema), Bulgaria, Czech Republic & Slovakia, Former Yugoslavia, Hungary and Romania (Prorom), Poland (Kino Swiat), Israel (Five Stars), Middle East (Gulf Film) and Turkey (Central Park).

Salty, adapted by Mark Haskell Smith from his novel of the same name, follows an ageing rock star whose holiday in Thailand takes a turn for the worse when his wife is kidnaped by pirates.

West’s Simon West Productions is aiming to shoot the film at the end of the year.

Before then, The Expendables 2 and Con Air director is being lined up to shoot Henry Cavill action film Stratton and a remake of The Blob.

West said: “I am delighted to have achieved this ‘world first’ by selling shares in my upcoming film directly to investors, the movie going fans themselves.

“Now it’s up to me to make a great film and repay their support with great returns.”

Zach Braff’s comedy-drama Wish I Was Here currently holds the record for the most money raised by a film through a crowdfunding platform, generating $3.2m (£2.1m) on Kickstarter in 2013

‘Expendables 2′ Director Simon West Teams with Carnaby on Action-Comedy ‘Salty’

London-based Carnaby Sales & Distribution has boarded Simon West’s action-comedy “Salty” as worldwide sales agent. West’s credits include “Con Air,” “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” and “Expendables 2.”

The production, which West describes as “The Hangover” meets “Get Him to the Greek,” is in final negotiations with an A-list cast and pre-sales have already been secured with distributors in several major territories, Carnaby said. Pic will start to shoot later this year.

The film follows an ageing rock star, and reformed sex addict, who is persuaded to take a holiday by his wife, a former supermodel. Things take a turn for the worse when she’s kidnapped by Thai pirates raising money to buy a new boat.

The screenplay, which is adapted from Mark Haskell Smith’s novel, is written by Haskell Smith (TV series “Star Trek Voyager” and “The Magnificent Seven”) and Toby Davies (“The Mitchell and Webb Look,” “Yonderland,” “Crackanory”).

Salty” is produced by Harry Stourton (“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”) and Jib Polhemus (“Con Air,” “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” “Expendables 2”). Deal was struck by Carnaby’s joint CEOs, Sean O’Kelly and Andrew Loveday, with West, Stourton and Polhemus for Simon West Prods. “Salty” partnered with equity crowdfunding platform SyndicateRoom to offer retail investors the chance to own a stake in the film.

West said: “‘Salty’ is a wonderful mixture of comedy, action and exotic locations. Films of this type like ‘The Hangover’ and ‘Bridesmaids’ are perfect examples of how popular this genre can be. I am going to shoot this film in a style that will exude energy, fun and glamour.

He added: “The story should work on several levels. The ironic humor and witty dialogue will be very appealing to U.S. and English-speaking audiences but I also think the film will travel very well to all other markets. I intend to shoot elaborate and exciting action sequences very much in the vein of my previous films and like those projects I intend to cast the movie with the best acting talent out there.”