Phil Avalon, playwright?

Yes, the producer-writer-director-actor wrote his first and only play, The Backstreet General, after graduating from drama school in the 1970s.

The Vietnam-set play was staged at six venues and gave Avalon the idea for a film which he now aims to shoot next year. He’s updated the setting to the current day so he can introduce the theme of terrorism.

The plot follows a young guy named Lenny who is captured by terrorists in Bali, where he learns of a plot to assassinate the US Vice-President during an upcoming visit to Australia. The protagonist escapes and tries to intervene to thwart the assassination attempt.

Avalon will produce and direct and has co-written the script with Gold Coast-based writer Greg Clayton, with development assistance from Screen Queensland. He is confident of funding the $5 million budget from private investors and the producer offset.

“I had FFC approval for gap investment finance in the 1990s and Robbie Little (Little Films) had put up a sizable DG,” he said. “I was financed, cast, ready to go, but had reservations with the script and pulled it. Over 14 drafts Greg and I held firm on the core story and updated it from the Vietnam War to modern day settings.”

Meanwhile Avalon is working with writer-director Geoff Davis and distributor IFM/Filmways on the theatrical release of WW1 drama William Kelly’s War.

Based on a true story, it’s the saga of two brothers and their cousin who leave their outback home to go to war and come back to find their family is under siege from a gang of bushrangers.

The writer-director is Geoff Davis, whose only previous experience as a feature director was a micro-budgeted 2003 film, Laughing Stock, a comedy about a middle-aged rock band.

Davis’ sons Josh and Mat play the brothers, Billy and Jack Kelly, Lachlan Hulme is their cousin Paddy and Tony Bonner is their father. Much of the film was shot in the back paddock of Davis’ farm near Leongatha in country Victoria. The working title was The Stolen.

The film will open on October 30 on 10-20 screens.


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