Regional Western Australia is set to receive a $4 million shot in the arm, with family feature films Whale Shark Jack and Drone Racers to commence filming later this year in the Gascoyne and Pilbara regions respectively.
The films have received major production investment from the Western Australian Regional Screen Fund, Lotterywest and Screen Australia - which has committed $7.4 million to help produce a total of five feature films, two TV dramas and two children’s projects.
Whale Shark Jack will be the first scripted production to be filmed entirely in Gascoyne, a northwestern region best known for the Ningaloo Reef and the Shark Bay World Heritage Site.
Directed by siblings Miranda and Khrob Edmonds of Cottesloe Films, Whale Shark Jack is written by Kathryn Lefroy (Library of Love), with Miranda producing alongside Tim White (I Am Mother) of Southern Light Films, Kelvin Munro and Philip Wade.
The film centres around 11-year-old Sarah, who sets out on a risky mission to find her best friend – a whale shark named Jack – after she moves to the coastal town of Exmouth following a tragic accident.
“The whole Whale Shark Jack team is thrilled to be filming this exciting adventure story at the magnificent Ningaloo Reef,” said Miranda and Khrob Edmonds.
“We can’t wait for audiences to dive into the breathtaking world of whale sharks with our young heroine, Sarah.”
To be filmed across the Pilbara region, Drone Racers follows the story of unruly tween Esme, who discovers a talent for the futuristic sport of drone racing - a sport where participants wear a head-mounted display that connects directly to a live stream camera of the drone they are flying.
Working alongside her tech-nerd cousin, Esme takes her new skills from the beaches, bush and burbs of their outback town, all the way to the world championships.
Alison James is directing Drone Racers based on an original screenplay by Jules Duncan (Rams). The film is produced by WBMC’s Aidan O’Bryan (Rams), Janelle Landers (Son of a Gun) and Jessica Mitchell (Yardbird), alongside James Grandison (Blueback).
“When WBMC approached me to direct Drone Racers, I thought there’s no way I’m going to want to make a family film!” said James.
“Then I read Jules’s amazing screenplay and really saw myself in the main character of Esme; after watching some of the incredible drone racing videos online I was all in.”
Screenwest CEO Rikki Lea Bestall added she was pleased to be supporting Miranda, Khrob and Alison's debut feature films.
“We can’t wait to see Whale Shark Jack and Drone Racers promote local talent and WA’s film-friendly communities, while showcasing their beautiful locations to national and international audiences," Bestall said.
The news comes five months after production kicked off for the movie adaptation of Trent Dalton’s novel Boy Swallows Universe in Brisbane, with the eight-part series being produced by Sydney-based Brouhaha Entertainment.
The project is expected to inject around $33 million into the Queensland economy and create approximately 185 jobs for cast and crew, in addition to roughly 2,500 extras.
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