Joss Moorhouse to explore music and love

02 November, 2015 by Don Groves

Buoyed by the successful launch of The Dressmaker, Jocelyn Moorhouse is heading to Germany later this month to continue developing her next feature and to mentor emerging writers.

Continuing her collaboration with producer Sue Maslin, she is scripting a 19th Century drama based on the real-life romantic triangle between German composer Robert Schumann, his composer-pianist wife Clara and the young Johannes Brahms.


The writer-director got the idea from Hollywood composer James Newton Howard (who scored her husband P.J. Hogan’s Peter Pan and My Best Friend’s Wedding) while she was researching another project which focusses on creative couples.

After a suicide attempt Schumann died in an asylum for the insane in 1856, aged 46. “Robert was a mentor to Brahms, who eclipsed him,” Joss tells IF. “It’s a quite tragic and beautiful story.”

Moorhouse will undertake more historical research on the project when she is in Germany for the eQuinoxe Europe international screenwriter workshop in the Bavarian Alps.

Nine promising screenplays selected by an international jury will participate in the one-week workshop with nine advisers – internationally known screenwriters, directors and script editors.

Today she said she was amazed and thrilled at the weekend figures for The Dressmaker: $3.16 million plus $416,000 from previews and festival screenings.

She had not allowed herself to predict an opening figure, explaining, “I am very superstitious; Sue and I just kept our fingers crossed.”

Moorhouse and Hogan started writing the screenplay adapted from Rosalie Ham’s novel while he was getting ready to direct Mental.

At one point she doubted whether she could persuade Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth to appear in an independent Australian film.

Winslet sparked immediately to the screenplay. As it happened, Hemsworth read the script just before Hogan went to Los Angeles on another project and rang his US manager, Roar’s Will Ward.

The timing could not have been better because Ward invited P.J. to lunch that day with Hemsworth. Joss said, “Kate really wanted him and he wanted to work with Kate and Judy Davis.”

Maslin had to finance the film twice with the steadfast support of Screen Australia, the second time while Winslet awaited the birth of her son Bear. “I was very impressed with Sue’s persistence and perseverance, she said.

As for PJ, he is writing Princes, the screenplay for an animated comedy in development at Warner Bros. If it gets the greenlight he will direct.

The plot follows the adventures of the lesser-known consorts of characters such as Queen Guinevere, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, including Prince Charming and Prince Valiant.

“No one really knows who they were because the women were way more interesting,” she said. "It's hilarious."