(CN) – Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsey was drunk and abusive during preparations for the Natalie Portman Western “Jane Got a Gun,” quit the project after producers refused to renegotiate her contract, and owes more than $500,000 in fees, a producer claims in court.
Jane Got A Gun Production sued Ramsey, the director of “Ratcatcher” and “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” in Albuquerque Federal Court, alleging breach of contract, fraud, tortious interference and other counts.
“Jane Got a Gun,” starring nonparty Natalie Portman, has had a rough go. The Hollywood Reporter reported this year that Ramsey had departed the indie Western after butting heads with producer Scott Steindorff, who is not a party to the lawsuit.
Ramsey’s representatives told the Hollywood Reporter last week that the allegations are “simply false.”
“Lynne Ramsay has not been served with this lawsuit and, when she is, she will respond in court and not in the media,” according to the statement in the Reporter. “That said, the allegations as recently reported are simply false. Lynne looks forward to presenting the truth about this situation in the proper forum.”
In its Nov. 4 lawsuit, the production company claims it hired Ramsey in July 2012 after the filmmaker wrote a screenplay for a feature project called “Mobius” with Jane Got A Gun affiliate Stone Village Productions.
Ramsey and Stone Village mutually parted ways so Ramsey could sign on to rewrite and direct “Jane Got a Gun,” and she received a fee of $140,000, the complaint states.
During preparations in February and March this year, however, Ramsey failed to knock the script into shape, the lawsuit claims.
“During this period of time, defendant Ramsey was repeatedly under the influence of alcohol, was abusive to members of the cast and crew, and was generally disruptive,” the 16-page complaint states.
In one incident, Ramsey allegedly pointed a prop gun at a camera crew without taking precautions or following “proper safety protocol,” the company claims.
With a date for principal photography approaching, Ramsey assured the producers she was working on the script and was ready to make the film, the complaint states.
The production company claims it relied on those assurances when it deposited $360,000 on March 12 into an escrow account held by the director’s talent agent, nonparty William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.
“Shortly thereafter,” the company claims, Ramsey tried to renegotiate her contract, twice pushing back the first day of shooting.
Ramsey ended her involvement after she failed to show up to make the film on the first day of shooting in New Mexico, the company claims. It says one of the leading actors, the cinematographer, a costumer and production designer left along with the director.
The Hollywood Reporter identified that actor as Jude Law, and said that Gavin O’Connor had taken over directing duties. After Bradley Cooper took the lead role and quit, Ewan McGregor was hired to replace him, according to the Reporter.
Plaintiff Jane Got a Gun Production claims Ramsey has refused to return the $360,000 in escrow and has made “false and disparaging” remarks about the project to potential investors.
It seeks punitive damages for breach of contract, breach of faith, breach of fiduciary duty, conversion, unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, fraud and fraudulent misrepresentation, tortious interference with contract and negligence. It also demands costs and an injunction requiring Ramsey’s agency to release the escrow funds.
Jane Got A Gun Production is represented by Paul Melendres with Melendres, Melendres & Harrigan of Albuquerque.
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