Fallen, a Gothic romantic thriller based on the first book in a series of novels by Lauren Kate, starts shooting in Budapest in March but there are plenty of Adelaide connections to the US indie production.

The director is Scott Hicks, who hails from Adelaide, as do cast members Harrison Gilbertson and Sianoa Smit-McPhee.

Hicks will return to Adelaide to cut the film at KOJO Post. He’d liked to have hired an Australian firm to handle the visual effects but the numbers didn’t stack up.

“Our dollar is still high which makes it difficult to compete with other countries, “Hicks tells IF on the line from Budapest. A VFX deal is still being finalised but will likely go to a Canadian company.

The plot follows Lucinda (Addison Timlin of Stand Up Guys and TV’s Zero Hour and Californication), a shy teenager who is sent to Sword and Cross reform school after she’s suspected of killing a boy in a fire.

Most of the students are fallen angels on the side of good or evil. The protagonist finds herself in a love triangle with two students (Gilbertson and The Railway Man’s Jeremy Irvine) who have dark secrets of their own.

Sianoa, the older sister of Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In, The Road) will play a Goth who bullies Lucinda.

Hicks says he was attracted to a romance set in a closed world where the kids have no cell phones or internet. As a further twist, the lovers can never be together because there is a curse on them.

Lotus Entertainment and Mayhem Pictures are producing the film, with the former handling international sales. Studiocanal pre-bought the Australian rights. Talent agency CAA is fielding offers from US distributors.

Hicks says Budapest won out as the location because it’s cheaper than other locations considered by the producers- primarily Georgia in the US and South Africa- and because he likes the city’s Gothic architecture.

The Shine director first saw Gilbertson when the actor appeared in Paul Goldman’s 2002 feature Australian Rules when he was seven or eight. Hicks helped him recently by shooting his screen test for a US film.

Hicks tested a lot of actors in the US and cast Harrison after being highly impressed by the read he did for the part. Gilberton will be on screen later this year in Australian director Stephen Lance’s My Mistress and US thriller Need for Speed

There are four novels in the series- the others are Torment, Passion and Rapture- so if Fallen is a hit there will almost certainly be sequels.

Does that prospect increase the pressure on the director? “I am trying not to think too much about that,” he says. “I am trying to get the story right and let the rest take care of itself.

”The idea of a film about thwarted love is something I very much wanted to try.”

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