Adrien Brody, Sam Neill, Bruce Spence, Robin McLeavy and Anna Lise Phillips are shooting Backtrack, a psychological thriller from writer-director Michael Petroni.
Jamie Hilton, who is producing with Petroni, his partner in See Pictures, and Antonia Barnard, says the project was relatively easy to finance.
That was due primarily to how sales agents, distributors and other financiers responded to Petroni’s screenplay, the saga of psychologist Peter Bowers who discovers his patients are the ghosts of people who died in an accident 20 years earlier.
Another advantage during the financing was that Petroni’s status as a writer was rising as The Book Thief, his adaptation of the Markus Zusak novel, started shooting in Germany.
Screen Australia, UK-based sales agent Bankside and Oz distributor Madman Entertainment came on board before Brody, an Oscar winner for The Pianist and who starred in Midnight in Paris and The Brothers Bloom, was attached.
The other participants are Screen NSW, Deluxe Australia, Bankside-affiliated Head Gear Films, which is providing the gap financing, and Star Gate, which is cash flowing the producer offset.
The six and a half week shoot started on January 6 in Sydney and will later move to the central West region of NSW.
Neill plays Bowers’ mentor and fellow psychologist. In her film debut, Chloe Bayliss (Dance Academy, Reef Doctors) plays a patient.
McLeavy recently returned to Sydney after starring in the US series Hell on Wheels, a Western about the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad and the surveyors, labourers, prostitutes, mercenaries, and others who lived, worked and died in a mobile camp.
Brody said, “The complexity and attention to detail in Michael's storytelling greatly appeals to me. The drama plays out in a nuanced manner as we explore the things that could easily haunt any man: childhood memories, loss. Guilt or ghost, our past has a way of keeping us from being present.”
Backtrack is only the second feature directed by Petroni, who made his debut with 2002’s Till Human Voices Wake Us. His screenwriting credits include The Rite, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Possession.
Hilton and Petroni formed See Pictures three years ago. Hilton produced Josh Lawson’s The Little Death, Sleeping Beauty and The Waiting City,