Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Michael R. Roskam, who got a Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar nomination last year for his Belgian film Bullhead, is at the center of a new HBO pilot script order, one which teams him with Michael Mann and Breaking Bad executive producer Mark Johnson. HBO has ordered a pilot script for a drama titled Buda Bridge, a Belgian-set crime story that takes place in Brussels in the near future. It unfolds when a woman is found dead on Buda Bridge, which leads to a series of violent crimes and strange science that bring mayhem to the dark capital of the European state.

Roskam is writing the script and will direct the pilot. Mann, who teamed with David Milch for HBO on the horse racing series Luck (which got cancelled following its second season renewal when multiple horses perished) is executive producer along with Johnson, whose AMC hit Breaking Bad is heading into its fifth and final season. Roskam will be co-executive producer.

All of this series action comes out of the awards season activity on Roskam’s breakout film Bullhead, which got Roskam signed with UTA and which as different as anything that I’ve seen in quite awhile. The film focused on the cattle trade, and the illicit practice of injecting those animals with synthetic hormones to spur growth. That theme fits right in with the plight of the film’s tragic protagonist (played by actor Matthias Schoenaerts). You have to see it to understand it but trust me, it’s worth watching.

Johnson was chair of the Academy Foreign Language Film Selection Committee and met Roskum after his film was nominated. Mann met Roskam when he handed the helmer his certificate of nomination. Both were knocked out by Bullhead. When Mann and Johnson met looking to do a project together, they found they had a common interest in Roskam, and that filmmaker was smart enough to come armed with a strong idea for a TV series.

Aside from UTA, Roskam is managed by Anonymous Content and lawyered by Alan Wertheimer. Gran Via exec Melissa Bernstein was key in bringing in the project (she is co-exec producer on Breaking Bad and is exec producing with Johnson their new Sundance Channel series Rectify).

Mann, who is zeroing in on his next directing effort, has exec produced with David Frankham the HBO documentary series Witness, which is scheduled to premiere in November. Each Monday of that month, segments will air that focus on war photographers as they risk their lives to capture footage in the conflict zones of Juarez, Uganda, Rio and Libya. And here is a trailer that gives a taste of Bullhead: