Blackbird flies to another destination

16 September, 2013 by Don Groves

The casting search for the supporting roles in Blackbird, a Hitchcockian thriller starring Cate Blanchett that was due to shoot in Sydney in January, has halted.

Agents have been told that writer-director David Mamet has decided to shoot the film in the US. That’s despite Mamet’s visit to Sydney last week where he scouted locations including Federation homes in Sydney’s inner-West, and casting agent Nikki Barrett being engaged to work on the project.


Blanchett is set to play a woman who travels to Los Angeles for the funeral of her grandfather, a Hollywood visual effects artist who moonlighted for US special operations agencies. The old man harboured secrets concerning the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which pose a threat to his granddaughter.

Aussie producer Andrew Mason had joined the creative team headed by French producer Saïd Ben Saïd. The project was first unveiled in May by Variety, which quoted Ben Saïd as saying the film would be shot in Sydney, part financed by Australian tax breaks.

One production that Australia can count on is Unbroken, the Angelina Jolie-directed drama about US Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini, who was captured by the Japanese in WW2.

Funded by Universal, that’s due to roll on October 21, featuring Jack O’Connell as Zamperini, a member of the US track team in the 1936 Berlin Olympics who survived a plane crash in the Pacific Ocean and after 47 days on a life raft was interned in a Japanese prison camp.

Last Friday crew employed on the production voted to accept an industrial agreement which the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance had negotiated with Fox Production Services, which represents Universal.

The first for an international film shot in Australia, the agreement will now be registered with Fair Work Australia, which means it will be legally enforceable.

Malcolm Tulloch, director of the entertainment crew and sport section of the Alliance, told IF, “We’re very excited about what’s been achieved with this agreement. We hope future productions (from offshore) will follow a similar path.”