Writer/director Paul Cox is planning to make a new film, Force of Destiny, about an artist who survives a liver transplant and falls in love.

Force of Destiny draws heavily on Cox’s memoir Tales From the Cancer Ward and is being developed with money from Screen Australia. He hopes to direct the film in 2012 and, like several of his previous films, it will star David Wenham.

“I never thought I would make a film again,” Cox told ScreenDaily.com from his Melbourne home. The director of 20 films including Innocence noted it has been nearly two years since he was phone on Christmas Day to be told a liver had become available for his transplant. “I should be dead but I survived and it has invigorated me.”

Visual effects are a crucial part of the look of the film, which explains why Cox and Maggie Miles, who is producing the film with him, are looking to partner with a visual effects company creatively in tune with the director.

“Because he wrote the book when he was very sick, it is full of stream of consciousness, hallucinations and ideas, and that commentary is an important spine of the film,” said Miles. Wenham’s character, Robert, is an artist and bird lover. In one scene he is on the operating table and, as the scalpel cuts through his skin, a flock of birds escape from his body.

Cox’s medical experiences are making him dwell on the connectedness of everything, the value of imagination and the “fantastic phenomena” of organ transplants.

“I’m sure I died for a few minutes and it was a liberating and wonderful feeling,” he said. “A film like this has not been done from the inside. It is not like a Harry Potter film: it is depicting reality.”

Cox has made the documentary The Dinner Party, produced by Miles, since getting a new liver. It features a gathering of eight liver recipients and is being used to support the work of Donate Life, which promotes organ and tissues donations.

On Borrowed Time, a film about Cox, is screening on several screens throughout Australia this month. Veteran documentary maker David Bradbury got access to the operating theatre for the operation. 

“He managed to talk his way into the operating theatre, which is incredible, so I got to see what happened in the butcher shop,” added Cox.