A film that could become Australian special effects house Fuel’s first in-house feature, and a comedy of manners about four middle-class 40-something men in a self-help group, are two of the seven films chosen for SPAAmart, an annual feature film market this year being held in November in Sydney.

The concept for The Room came from James Croke after Fuel invited staff to submit projects for possible development within the company.

Set in the future, it is about Sophia, a young woman who has been living in a vast hermetically-sealed fantastically high-tech underground facility since the age of four because the deadly virus she carries could have a catastrophic effect on the world.

Veteran producer Matt Carroll [pictured] told ScreenDaily that the film has a strong storyline and has sparked a lot of interest among young female actors because of the focus on Sophia and her psychological survival. Mia Wasikowska, Emily Browning, Bella Heathcote and Lizzie Schebesta are the four actresses who have tested for the part.

Andrew Hellen, one of Fuel’s five owners, and Ian Watson will both direct, with Hellen particularly overseeing the creation of the extensive virtual world, and Ian Watson guiding performance.

The twist in Boys Club is that the four male characters decide to get together once a month to air their troubles, but end up lying to each other: that is until a major crisis on a mountain bushwalk forces them to come clean. The script is from Michael Brindley.

“The film will be director Marcus Cole’s first outing on a feature,” said Karin Altman, who is producing with Sue Maslin. “But he has directed 12 movies for television in the US before returning to Australia and a number of mini-series including the Great Bookie Robbery and A Fortunate Life …This is a very experienced ‘first-time director’ for a feature!”

Said Sue Maslin: “It’s perfect fare for all those who wonder what men really think.”

About 40 projects were submitted and a cross-cultural romcom (Alex and Eve) and a controversial coming-of-age story (My Mistress) are also among those chosen. One project, Uno, is being set up as an Italian/Australian co-production.

Julie Marlow is the director of SPAAmart, which is being held on Nov 14 and 15 alongside the annual conference of the Screen Producers Association of Australia.

The full list of projects is as follows:

THE ROOM: producer Matt Carroll, directors Ian Watson and Andrew Hellen

MY MISTRESS: producer Leanne Tonkes, director Stephen Lance

UNO: producer Stuart Scowcroft, director Giotto Barbieri

WAKE UP DEAD: producers Joel Cohn and Josh Butt, director Joel Cohen

RED CAR: producer Tony Leach, director Paul Elliott

BOYS CLUB: producers Karin Altmann and Sue Maslin, director Marcus Cole

ALEX AND EVE, producer Murray Fahey, director Peter Andrikidis