‘Dance Academy’ scribe Sam Strauss preps story of royal mistress ‘Sheila’

20 March, 2017 by Harry Windsor

'Dance Academy' star Xenia Goodwin shooting in New York (courtesy Werner Film Holdings).

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Screenwriter Samantha Strauss makes her feature debut this month with Dance Academy, based on the show she created with producer Joanna Werner in 2010. 

Earlier feature scripts went nowhere, the writer tells IF. "I’d written a film before that had a young female protagonist and that was incredibly difficult to get up. We were told at the time that it’s not a market for Australia."

But the support of StudioCanal and the show's German partner ZDF made a Dance Academy feature possible, and Strauss is thrilled with the result.

"Everything I’ve ever worked on, you just hate everything you’ve ever written and every moment is awful and you can’t imagine what it looks like," she said. 

"This is the first experience where… no I shouldn’t say that (laughs). But when we saw the rough cut, Joanna the producer went and cried and I was in a state of shock because Jeffrey Walker and Geoff Lamb the editor had assembled this thing that we are just so unbelievably proud of."

Strauss is also keeping busy with other projects, including "an adult dramedy" the scribe has written for See-Saw, which she describes as "very different to Dance Academy  very black."

The series would be ongoing and is awaiting the green-light from a broadcaster, Strauss says.

"And I’m writing a film based on a book. It’s set in 1919 about an Australian woman who ends up having an affair with the future King of England."

Strauss, who received Gender Matters: Brilliant Stories funding last year, is adapting Robert Wainwright's biography of Sheila Chisholm, the daughter of a wealthy grazier from NSW who arrived in London society in 1914.

Strauss is writing the feature for Goalpost's Rosemary Blight and Revlover’s Martha Coleman under a development deal with Transmission.

Chisholm married Lord Loughborough, a hopeless gambler, and conducted affairs with screen star Rudolph Valentino as well as with Prince Albert, or 'Bertie', the future George VI. 

George VI was played recently by Colin Firth in The King's Speech and by Jared Harris in Netflix's The Crown. Ben Mendelsohn will play the role in Joe Wright's upcoming Darkest Hour, with Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill.

Chisholm was married three times, and eventually opened a travel agency in London, where she died in 1969.

Strauss is also writing another film for Werner, who was recently appointed to the Screen Australia board, and the pair are developing a children’s series. 

Dance Academy: The Movie is in cinemas April 6.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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