Following the success of Breath, another Tim Winton novel gets the feature film treatment with Dirt Music going into production this week in Bardi Jawi country in the Kimberley, Western Australia and will continue on Noongar country in Perth and Esperance, Western Australia.
Playing the lead role of Georgie is Scottish actress Kelly MacDonald (Trainspotting, No Country For Old Men, The Bookshop), unhappily living with widower Jim (David Wenham) and falling in love with enigmatic loner Lu, to be played by Mudbound‘s Garrett Hedlund. Australians in the supporting cast include Aaron Pedersen, Chris Haywood, George Mason, Dan Wyllie and in her acting debut, musician Julia Stone.
Director Gregor Jordan hasn’t made a feature film in Australia since 2003’s Ned Kelly, but it’s not for want of trying. After making a splash with his debut Two Hands, Jordan has worked in the US (Buffalo Soldiers, The Informers, Unthinkable), and on Australian and US TV and commercials, but feature film work has been few and far between.
Described as a gritty, sexy drama with a haunting love story at its heart set against the powerful backdrop of Western Australia’s evocative landscape and a film about people whose hopes and dreams are lost, and the redemptive power of love, the 400+ page Dirt Music novel has been adapted by Brit Jack Thorne (Wonder, the upcoming The Aeronauts and The Sandman), and produced by Wildgaze Films’ Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey (An Education, Their Finest), and Aquarius Films’ Angie Fielder (Lion) and Polly Staniford (Berlin Syndrome).
UK’s Film4 developed the project with Wildgaze Films and are financing along with Screen Australia, the West Australian Regional Film Fund, Screenwest and Ingenious Media. Cornerstone Films will handle the international rights and distribution and will commence sales at the upcoming American Film Market. Focus Features acquired the international rights in Australia and New Zealand where Universal Pictures will distribute. Executive producers are Daniel Battsek, Sue Bruce-Smith and Lauren Dark for Film4 and Peter Touche and Stephen Dailey for Ingenious.
“Dirt Music is a classic Australian story set in a fictional small West Australian fishing village, and it’s exciting to have a second Tim Winton film adaptation showcasing this beautiful part of Australia to the rest of the world,” commented Head of Content at Screen Australia, Sally Caplan, in a press release. “I’m sure this talented creative team and cast will do a brilliant job at bringing this popular and iconic Australian story to life.”