Screenwriter Luke Davies is back in Sydney for the Australian premiere of his new film Lion, taking place tonight at the State Theatre.
Directed by Top of the Lake’s Garth Davis and produced by Aquarius Films’ Angie Fielder and See-Saw’s Emile Sherman, the moving film is already gaining buzz as an Oscar prospect.
Davies’ career in film began when he volunteered to write the screenplay adaptation of his novel, Candy, for producers Sherman and Margaret Fink.
After that film was released in 2006, he moved to LA, where he now lives in a share-house with Animal Kingdom’s David Michôd and Oyster Farmer’s Alex O’Loughlin and their partners.
Davies has just delivered a script and bible for a six-episode miniseries adaptation of Catch-22, set to be directed by Michôd, who has just finished post-production in London on Netflix Original War Machine, starring Brad Pitt.
“One version of the fantasy plan is that I’m going to write all six episodes and he’s going to direct all six,” said Davies.
Davies and Michôd were approached by Steve Golin and Richard Brown of Anonymous Content, who produced True Detective’s first season using a similar model: one writer, one director.
“Richard had come to us and said, we did a great thing with True Detective and we think that you guys are nice guys and we’d like to work with you, have you got any ideas?”
Davies pitched an adaptation of Catch-22, a favourite since the scribe was 16 years old and studied the novel in Year 11.
“Many people think they have read it and haven’t, many people did read it and forgot it, and many people are confused because ‘Catch-22’, the phrase, is so deeply embedded in the popular culture,” said Davies.
Anonymous Content is working with the TV arm of Paramount, which has owned the rights to the novel since 1961.
“Paramount said, okay, we’ll go with those guys, even though they’re fairly unknown and untested in the world of television,” said Davies.
“So I’ve spent the last ten months going crazy tearing my hair out trying to untangle the novel, and finally in the last two or three months [I’ve been] working out the structure of the six episodes; the six climaxes, how the series ends. It’s a really exciting time right now.”
The mini’s two most important roles will be Yossarian, the main character, and Milo Minderbinder, the “likable charming evil capitalist” played by Jon Voight in Mike Nichols’ 1970 film – “In the film it’s a pretty small role, we’ve made it a much bigger role.”
Discussions with cast are a way off, according to the writer.
“David [Michôd] literally arrived in Sydney from London yesterday, and we have a conference call with Richard and Steve next week. David hasn’t read the draft that I delivered three days ago so the question now is what happens next: when are we back in LA and how do we start talking about cast?”
Davies is also “beginning to explore the possibility of working with Jen Peedom on her first feature film.”
The film will be the story of Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who climbed Everest with Edmund Hillary in 1953 – “the conquest of Everest, as the white people called it, but not necessarily as the Sherpas called it (laughs).”