THE APPRENTICE – Irish co-production to have World Premiere in Competition at prestigious Cannes Film Festival

Film charts a young Donald Trump’s ascent to power

The Apprentice, a feature produced by Irish company Tailored Films starring Sebastian Stan as Donald Trump and Jeremy Strong as Roy Cohn, will have its World Premiere in Official Competition for the coveted Palme D’Or at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival this month.  The film is an official Canadian-Irish-Danish co-production.

The Apprentice is a dive into the underbelly of the American empire. It charts a young Donald Trump’s ascent to power through a Faustian deal with the influential right-wing lawyer and political fixer Roy Cohn.

This is the first time a Fís Éireann / Screen Ireland funded film has been in Official Competition at the Cannes Film Festival since 2017 and marks a significant milestone for Irish producers Ruth Treacy and Julianne Forde of Tailored Films.

The film is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ali Abbasi (Un Certain Regard winner for Border at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival) and written by Gabriel Sherman, with the cast including Emmy® & Golden Globe Award® Nominee and Silver Bear Winner Sebastian Stan as Donald Trump, along with Emmy®, Golden Globe Award®, and SAG Award® Winner Jeremy Strong (Roy Cohn); Academy Award® & Golden Globe Award® Nominee Maria Bakalova (Ivana Zelníčková/IvanaTrump) and Martin Donovan (Fred Trump Senior).

Irish production company Tailored Films became involved with The Apprentice after meeting Canadian Producer Dan Bekerman at ‘Co-Create’; a speed networking event organised by Telefilm and Fís Éireann / Screen Ireland at Cannes 2023. Dan mentioned that he was working on a project that might potentially have a need for a third co-production partner, and as soon as he mentioned Ali Abbasi, Tailored Films was immediately keen to get involved.

Producer Ruth Treacy commented: “I’m a really big fan of Ali Abbasi’s work and the pitch of essentially the ‘origin’ story of Trump sounded fascinating and I knew that Ali would bring such a unique approach to the story.”

Following completion of Mubi / Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland / BFI funded feature film Bring Them Down (starring Barry Keoghan and Christopher Abbott) in early 2023, Tailored Films capitalised on the anticipation of the film at Cannes Film Festival that same year to further foster their international connections and co-production opportunities.

Producer Julianne Forde adds; “The script for The Apprentice was locked soon after we met Dan, and we set about raising Irish finance for the film. Fís Éireann / Screen Ireland, were hugely supportive of the project and its contribution to Ireland’s thriving cinematic landscape. As well as sending on screen and offscreen talent to collaborate on the shoot, we’re also overseeing all the music, sound design, VFX and other elements in post production in Dublin. We partnered with Screen Scene for Post-Production Facilities.”

The film wrapped in Toronto in late January 2024, resulting in an exceptionally challenging post production schedule to ensure the film was completed for the Cannes Film Festival.  Tailored Films has been hands on in the collaboration of the online/offline edit, the sound mix, ADR, and VFX, managing the logistics of streamlining post to align with key dates for Cannes Film Festival.  Irish VFX vendors are Egg VFX, Piranha Bar, Alan Foley, Dan Cullen and Jonny Figgis.

Ruth Treacy said “We see these co-production opportunities as a way to highlight on a global platform the world-class filmmaking talent that is available in Ireland.  These international co-production opportunities are a way for the Irish film industry to look outwards to engage with international stories, and not solely inwards.  We’re thrilled to have the film premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this year and we very much see this as a stepping stone for Tailored Films.”

Tailored Films secured Fís Éireann / Screen Ireland co-production funding, and organised for two Irish actors to play supporting roles in the film (Eoin Duffy and Valerie O’Connor as Tony Schwarz and Rona Barrett, respectively). Tailored Films also sent over Key makeup artist Tom McInerney and Key Hair designer Sandra Kelly to be part of the shoot in Canada, further supporting Irish filmmaking talent.

Producers are Daniel Bekerman for Scythia Films (Canada), Jacob Jarek for Profile Pictures (Denmark), Ruth Treacy and Julianne Forde for Tailored Films (Ireland), Ali Abbasi and Louis Tisné for Film Institute (Denmark)

Executive Producers on the project are Amy Baer, Mark H. Rapaport, Emanuel Nunez, Josh Marks, Grant S.Johnson, Phil Hunt and Compton Ross, Thorsten Schumacher, Niamh Fagan, Gabriel Sherman, Lee Broda, James Shani, Greg Denny.

Financiers were Kinematics / Head Gear Films / Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland / Film i Väst / The Danish Film Institute / National Bank of Canada.