Screen Australia also puts money into an omnibus title that has 17 directors including Cate Blanchett and Mia Wasikowska.
See-Saw’s Emile Sherman and Iain Canning, producers of Oscar winner The King’s Speech, have won the support of Screen Australia to turn Robyn Davidson’s iconic Australian book Tracks into a feature film to be directed by John Curran [pictured] (The Painted Veil, Praise).
The government agency decided yesterday to put $5.2m (A$5m) million into four features worth $20.8m (A$20m), the others being The Babadook, Galore and the omnibus film The Turning, which has 17 directors attached and is an adaptation of much-loved novelist Tim Winton’s book of short stories.
Tracks tells the true story of a young woman who travelled 1,700 miles through the desert from Alice Springs, in the centre of Australia, to the west coast in 1977. Except for the occasional company of American stills photographer Rick Smolan, she was alone except for four camels and a dog.
“The fantasy of cashing everything in and taking off into the middle of nowhere makes this one of the few great Australian international stories,” Sherman told ScreenDaily. “The journey, documented for National Geographic by Rick Smolan, is so intriguing that many filmmakers over many years have tried to make it. To be the ones to make it is a privilege.”
Sherman said he had kept himself at a distance from the twists and turns that accompanied the many attempts to make the book into a film but a Hollywood studio – he understands it was Disney – last had the rights before he acquired them three years ago.
He was reluctant to reveal full details of the deal because many aspects still need to be signed off but HanWay Films and Cross City Sales hold international rights and Transmission will release the film locally.
Julie Ryan, who was one of the two producers on last year’s hit Red Dog, is co-producing.
Neither Jennifer Kent, who is making the supernatural horror film The Babadook, and Rhys Graham, who is directing the teen drama Galore, have directed fiction features before, although Graham co-directed two acclaimed feature-length documentaries Murundak – Songs of Freedom and Words From The City.
Graham is also one of 17 directors who will together create an adaptation of The Turning, a book of short stories by much-loved Western Australian novelist Tim Winton. The other directors include actors Cate Blanchett, David Wenham and Mia Wasikowska; known directors Robert Connolly, Justin Kurzel and Tony Ayres; and people known for other artistic achievements including dancer and choreographer Steven Page, circus artist Yaron Lifschitz and video artist Shaun Gladwell.
The Turning will be cut up and shown in galleries, live theatre venues and a range of other spaces, in addition to cinemas.
Causeway Films Pty Ltd. Producers Kristina Ceyton, Kristian Moliere. Executive producers,Jonathan Page, Michael Tear, Jeff Harrison. Writer/director Jennifer Kent. Cast Essie Davis. International sales eOne Entertainment. Australian distributor Umbrella Entertainment. Synopsis: A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.
Film Camp Pty Ltd. Producer Philippa Campey. Executive producers Sue Murray, Victoria Treole. Writer/director Rhys Graham. International sales eOne Entertainment. Australian distributor Hopscotch. Synopsis: Billie and Laura, two reckless teenage best friends, share everything, except for Billie’s biggest secret: she’s crazy in love with Laura’s boyfriend.
See-Saw Productions Pty Ltd. Producers Emile Sherman, Iain Canning. Co-producer Julie Ryan. Director John Curran (based on his current draft) International sales HanWay Films, Cross City Sales. Australian distributor Transmission. Synopsis: The inspirational true story of Robyn Davidson’s solo camel trek through the harsh centre of Australia, aided only by her faithful canine companion Diggity and the National Geographic photographer who chronicled this epic modern adventure.
Arenamedia Pty Ltd. Producer Robert Connolly. Co-Producer Maggie Miles. Executive producers Andrew Myer, Paul Wiegard. Directors include Benedict Andrews, Jonathan auf der Heide, Tony Ayres, Cate Blanchett, Robert Connolly, Shaun Gladwell, Rhys Graham, Justin Kurzel, Ian Meadows, Yaron Lifschitz, Claire McCarthy, Ashlee Page, Stephen Page, Mia Wasikowska, David Wenham. International sales Maze Film Sales, LevelK ApS Film Sales. Australian distributor Footprint Films. Synopsis: A diverse range of Australian directors each create a chapter of this hauntingly beautiful novel by Tim Winton. The linking and overlapping stories explore the extraordinary turning points in ordinary people’s lives. As characters face second thoughts and mid-life regret, relationships irretrievably alter, resolves are made or broken and lives change direction forever.