Sofia Wylie, the teenage star of the Disney Channel series Andi Mack, will make her feature film debut in Australian young-adult drama Back of the Net.
Wylie will play the lead, science fanatic Cory Bailey, who is a student at the Harold Soccer Academy. Missing her parents who are volunteering in India, she locks horns with the school’s star player Evie.
As the school prepares to host the national soccer tournament, Cory is determined to beat Evie’s team in the finals.
Shooting starts in Sydney on April 16, produced by the Steve Jaggi Company and directed by Louise Alston, whose feature credits include Jucy and All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane.
The screenplay is by US writers Casie Tabanou and Alison Spuck. Jaggi tells IF the project was developed originally by Adelaide-based writer-director Clay Glen.
Jaggi was looking for a young-adult themed film as a follow-up to Rip Tide, heard about Back of the Net and bought the script from Glen.
Wylie, 14, who also starred in Nickelodeon’s Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn, was the first choice for the lead. “We wanted someone who has a broad range and appeals to a global audience,” he tells IF.
The actor/singer/dancer plays Buffy Driscoll in Andi Mack, the first Disney series to incorporate an LGBT storyline, and has performed on stage with Justin Bieber on his world tour.
Late last year she said: “My goal is to play a strong female role in a feature film. I want girls to see someone that they can relate to and see in a positive light.”
Jaggi had long admired Alston and was keen to work with her. Casting of the other roles including Evie and Bailey’s parents is underway; all will be Australian.
Screen Tasmania is funding a seven-week attachment for emerging producer Danielle Mclean, the first under its Emergence program.
Umbrella Entertainment will release in Australia and New Zealand and MarVista Entertainment will handle international sales – the same combination for Rip Tide.
Directed by Rhiannon Bannenberg, Rip Tide grossed a reasonable $360,000 in Australia but reached a broad audience internationally when it premiered in January on Netflix, which acquired worldwide rights excluding Australia/New Zealand.