By Travis Johnson

John Sheedy’s recent short Mrs McCutcheon has charmed audiences and festival juries alike, so we’re very keen to see what the emerging filmaker can do with a whole feature. It seems we’ll be finding out sooner rather than later, with the news that he’ll be making his feature directing debut with H is for Happiness, set to shoot around Albany in Western Australia’s Great Southern region later this year.

Based on the children’s book My Life As An Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg, which has been adapted by screenwriter and producer Lisa Hoppe, H is for Happiness “…tells the story of Candice Phee – a 12-year-old girl with boundless optimism and a unique view of the world. Set in a small coastal town, it’s about an unflinchingly honest girl’s determination to bring her family back from the brink. Candice is an unforgettable heroine whose exploits will inspire and delight anyone who has faced the trials of adolescence and family heartbreak,” says Hoppe. Julie Ryan (Hotel Mumbai, Red Dog) and Tenille Kennedy (Slam) are also producing, with Jonathan Page (The Babadook), Bryce Menzies (I Am Mother, Red Dog: True Blue) and Avrill Stark (The Deep) on board as executive producers.

The project has received major production investment from Screen Australia in association with the WA Regional Film Fund and Screenwest, and was financed with support from the Melbourne Film International Festival (MIFF) Premiere Fund, Film Victoria and Soundfirm. Casting is currently underway.

“I am thrilled to be returning to WA for my directorial debut. Having spent several years in Perth creating theatrical works for young people and families, it seems very fitting,” said Sheedy. “I am equally delighted to have the opportunity to work with producers Julie Ryan of Cyan Films, Tenille Kennedy and screenwriter and producer Lisa Hoppe who has constructed a hilariously quirky and moving script that is sure to resonate with any child or family that feels different. I look forward to re-engaging in the assembly of local talented actors and creatives and spending time in Albany which is the perfect backdrop to bring this story to the screen.”

Screenwest CEO Seph McKenna said of the project: “I am delighted that the number of screen productions being filmed in WA is steadily growing with quality titles like H is for Happiness. It’s such an exciting time for our local film and screen industry and it’s great to witness more national and international teams realising the value of shooting their projects here.”

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