Kriv Stenders is attached to direct Poacher, a Tasmanian-set seafaring action thriller which will star Luke Bracey and Nick Nolte.
Inspired by a true story and scripted by Irishman Thomas Martin, it will be the first feature from Ashley McLeod and Teresa Ticehurst’s Homegrown Productions.
Bracey will play Cam Strachan, a young man who encounters a fishing baron named John Hardy (Nolte) who rules the town, and is transformed from a small-time abalone poacher into the boss of a criminal gang.
Stenders was first approached by McLeod, who runs TVC production company Sergeant Major, three years ago, introduced by a mutual friend, DOP Ross Emery.
The director tells IF he responded to the script as a blend of Western, crime thriller and seafaring adventure, likening it to The Perfect Storm meets Animal Kingdom.
McLeod first heard of the exploits of David Campbell “Cam” Strachan 15 years ago. Subsequently he met Martin after the latter’s screenplay The Absence Sonata won the Alfred P. Sloan commissioning grant from the Sundance Institute in 2013, and related Strachan’s story to him.
Martin, whose credits include the BBC dramas Ripper Street and Restoration, loved the concept, spent three months in Tasmania researching the project and a month writing it in Bondi, and McLeod optioned Strachan’s life rights.
After Bracey (Hacksaw Ridge, Point Break) signed on his US agent CAA suggested fellow client Nolte as the co-lead.
There will be a large gallery of supporting roles including Cam’s love interest and his younger brother.
Arclight Films, which is handling the international rights, unveiled the project at the American Film Market. James M. Vernon will produce with McLeod and Ticehurst. Becker Film Group will release in Australia and CAA is handling US rights.
“Poacher is a thrilling sea adventure about a maverick abalone diver and, a classic story of survival, family, betrayal, corruption, loyalty, sacrifice and redemption,” McLeod said.
“We’re thrilled Kriv will be directing. He is the master of capturing beautiful and varied landscapes, and has an amazing vision for this true life story.”
Stenders will have the chance to scout locations in Tasmania when he and Sam Neill go to the island to film part of Uncharted with Sam Neill, a six-part factual series for Foxtel’s History Channel that charts Captain Cook’s three voyages to the Pacific, produced by Essential Media and Entertainment and Frame Up Films. In December he will direct two episodes of Easy Tiger’s Jack Irish.
McLeod and Ticehurst also are developing Storm Warning, based on the true story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race, the most disastrous in the race’s history with the loss of six lives and five yachts.
John Collee wrote the screenplay and Patrick Hughes is attached to direct.