George Pullar and newcomer Ashlyn Louden-Gamble have won the lead roles in Moon Rock for Monday, a coming-of-age road movie from first-time writer-director Kurt Martin.
Pullar, whose star is on the rise after roles in Fighting Season, Playing for Keeps and A Place to Call Home, will play homeless teenager Tyler.
Tyler is on the run from the cops when he meets Monday (Louden-Gamble), a terminally ill 11-year-old, at a train station. Forming an unlikely bond, they embark on a road trip across the country in search of a moon rock which Monday believes will heal her. The pair is pursued by the police who believe Tyler has kidnapped the girl.
Jim Robison, who formed Lunar Pictures after an affable split from Blake Northfield’s Bronte Pictures, will produce. Shooting is due to start in Sydney and Coober Pedy on August 26, funded by private investors and the Producer Offset.
Casting agent Marianne Jade of Maura Fay Casting issued a nationwide casting call for the lead roles. United Management’s Trish McAskill, who represents Ashlyn, her youngest client, got her to audition. Ashlyn had attended acting classes for kids at NIDA.
“It was so important we found Ashlyn because she holds the film together with George,” Robison tell IF. “After Kurt met with her, he knew she was our Monday.
“It’s a happy-sad film, actually more happy than sad. Monday is terminally ill but she teaches everyone around her how to live.”
David Field will play the lead detective with Aaron Jeffery as Monday’s father and Nicholas Hope and Karina Banno as oddball characters whom the pair encounter. Bonnie Ferguson, Dean Kyrwood, Lauren Birdsall and Rahel Romahn round out the supporting cast.
Martin, now a partner in Lunar Pictures, took the script to Robison in 2017 and they have since made several short films and web series.
Pinnacle Films’ Huw Perkins and Sherard Kingston quickly acquired the Australian/New Zealand distribution rights and it took Robison two years to raise the rest of the budget.
Robison and Martin will attend the American Film Market in LA in November to show a sizzle reel to international sales agents after Robison decided earlier offers from agents were too low-ball.
This is the first production for Lunar Pictures, which has several projects slated for development this year and in 2020.
Robison received an executive producer credit on Kriv Stenders’ Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan after introducing the producers to licensed corporate brokers who raised private investment.