Blake Northfield and Heath Davis.
Writer-director Heath Davis and Bronte Pictures’ Blake Northfield are teaming up for Blood Red Sky, a feature inspired by the Australian bushfire crisis.
The pair intends to donate 25 per cent of the film’s profits to the rural fire services in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.
Due to shoot in NSW and Queensland late this year, the narrative will follow a motley crew of volunteer firefighters and courageous locals who must overcome their personal and political differences when a bushfire threatens their picturesque country town.
Northfield aims to raise the budget from government agencies and international partners. Greg Apps will come on board as casting director. “We have very high expectations on cast,” says the producer, whose credits include Storm Ashwood’s thrillers The School and Escape and Evasion.
Rejecting any suggestion that the public has witnessed more than enough devastation either in person or on television, Northfield tells IF: “I believe that it’s a tipping point for not only Australians but also people all over the world.
“By the time the the film is released we’d hope a heated debate is taking place all over the world with the Australian bushfires as the catalyst for climate change acknowledgement and a plan to combat it is progressing.
“I hope that Australians will leave the cinema feeling proud above everything else. The way in which we respectfully go about telling the story is key, as are the manner in which we conduct ourselves and the way in which we consult. We intend to work with all parties, from the heroes on the ground to the hardworking people in HQ tirelessly coordinating the battle.
“We are country blokes who have friends who lost their homes and we want to make a film to respect them and make sure the next time it happens, there is a better federal response in place to look after them.”
Davis, whose credits include Locusts, Book Week and Broke, says: “As a storyteller I’ve always been interested in the human condition. Often the most compelling drama comes from ordinary characters enduring tremendous hardship.
“Like everyone else I’ve been extremely moved and inspired by the courage, resilience and compassion displayed by those on the front line. The setting makes for not just an engaging and inspiring piece of cinema but also a timely and topical one thematically.”
Northfield says the film will put a human face on the characters, salt of the earth Australians of different backgrounds, ages and genders.
Meanwhile Umbrella Entertainment plans to launch Streamline, the debut feature from writer-director Tyson Johnston, in August to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics.
Levi Miller (Red Dog: True Blue, A Wrinkle in Time, Jasper Jones, Pan) plays Benjamin “Boy” Lane, a 15-year-old swimming prodigy who self-destructs after his long absent, violent father (Jason Isaacs) is released from jail.
Five-time Australian Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe served as a consultant and mentor to Miller on the production.
Screen Australia co-funded the film produced by Northfield and Nathan Walker. Arclight Films is handling international sales.