AWGIE nominee Clare Sladden will make her feature directing debut on Shadow Lodge, a suspense/thriller about a once-close group of four friends who come together to renovate an old house.
Romper Stomper creator Geoffrey Wright will serve as executive producer and story consultant, collaborating with the first-time writer, Perth-based Jarrad Weir.
The producer, RLC Motion Picture Entertainment’s Russell Cunningham, hired Sladden after watching her previous work including the short film Consent, a thriller about a woman who allows a stranger whom she met online into her home for a dark purpose, co-directed with her sister Jasmine Sladden.
Clare’s Freudian Slip, an online comedy series which uses Freud’s theory of the split self to externalise internal dilemmas around love, sex and pooping, has been nominated for an AWGIE; the awards will be announced on August 30.
The thriller’s co-producer Claudia Keech, who worked with Cunningham on Matthew Holmes’ The Legend of Ben Hall, recommended Sladden.
Cunningham said: “When we asked Clare to test, her interpretation of the story nailed it home. Her ability to successfully move between genres seamlessly was a huge attraction to select her as a break out talent to direct Shadow Lodge.”
The plot follows the four who each have a financial interest in the house and decide to sell it to make money. The house isn’t haunted but is a character in its own right, the place where one of the four committed a murder four years ago.
Wright agreed to come aboard after meeting Weir, who then approached Cunningham. The Sydney-based producer then went to Melbourne to meet Wright. Both saw the similarities between this project and The Shining, the Stanley Kubrick classic which starred Jack Nicholson.
Wright hailed Consent as proof that Sladden is a “gun director and ‘dangerous’ in the best way.”
Casting is underway and, depending on the actors’ availability, shooting in Victoria will start either in November or January. Cunningham, who is raising the budget from private investors using the Producer Offset, says the international market is the primary target.
He said the investors in the Ben Hall movie fully recouped thanks largely to revenues from the US release via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and the Showtime network, plus sales to Germany, France and Spain negotiated by Odin’s Eye Entertainment.