Ballymoney film producer offers YOU chance to be part of ‘Zoo’

Ballymoney man John Leslie
Ballymoney man John Leslie

A Ballymoney film producer is offering local people the opportunity to invest in a heart-warming new movie about a baby elephant which was rescued from Belfast Zoo during the Second World War blitz bombings.

Filmmaker John Leslie is one of the producers of the movie ‘Zoo’ which is based on the true story of a worker at Belfast Zoo in 1941 who, every evening, ‘sneaked’ a baby elephant out of its compound and walked it back to her home where she cared for the animal in her backyard, calming it down as the Luftwaffe bombs rained down on the city.

A photograph of the real life elephant which inspired the film Zoo.

A photograph of the real life elephant which inspired the film Zoo.

Now local people can invest in this “feelgood story” and, as John Leslie says in his video for Indiegogo productions, “when the final credits roll on the opening night and your name comes up on the screen, you’re going to know that not only did you watch a wonderful film, you actually helped to make it.”

The filmmakers need to raise £100,000 to fund the movie, cameras begin rolling this summer.

John said: “In 1941 a government marksman, following a directive from the Ministry of Public Security, shot dead 33 animals at Belfast Zoo. Each evening a woman walked a baby elephant home, cared for it and reassured it as Luftwaffe bombs rained down on Belfast.

“Now writer and director Colin McIvor has developed the story further and it is now seen through the eyes of 12-year-old Tom, aided and abetted by his misfit friends.

Star, the elephant star of the film at home in Canada.

Star, the elephant star of the film at home in Canada.

“This moving adventure unfolds as Tom takes on the fight to save Buster the elephant.”

The cast of ‘Zoo’ boasts some names which are the cream of TV and movie acting including Penelope Wilton who has played Isobel Crawley in TV’s Downton Abbey and has also starred in films such as ‘Calendar Girls’, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ and is soon to appear in the forthcoming ‘BFG’.

Penelope plays the part of ‘Elephant Angel’ in ‘Zoo’.

Playing the part of security guard Charlie is Toby Jones who has appeared in the Harry Potter movies, The Hunger Games saga and most recently, as Captain Mainwaring in the film version of Dad’s Army.

He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his role as Alfred Hitchcock in The Girl (2012).

Playing the young hero Tom is Art Parkinson from Moville in County Donegal who has appeared in Game of Thrones and Dracula Untold.

John Leslie continued: “This film has the potential to be up among the classic family films such as The Railway Children, Swallows and Amazons and even ET.

“We, as filmmakers, want to make a film worthy of inclusion in this pantheon of great perennial family films.

“While we have the majority of finance in place, we are still teetering on the edge of the green light.

“Please get involved and help us make this happen.

“This is a truly Northern Irish ‘feelgood’ story that we can all be proud of.

“Cameras turn over summer 2016.

“Please help us make this fabulous film.”

To watch John Leslie’s video pitch about ‘Zoo’, check out this link