Josh McConville (1%, War Machine), Stephen Hunter (Rosehaven, Wolf Creek), Angus McLaren (Doctor, Doctor) and tyro Rafferty Grierson have joined the cast of The Merger, a comedy/drama which will star Damian Callinan.
Callinan has written the script based on his one-man show about a country football coach who hatches an unorthodox plan to rebuild the local football team by recruiting recently-settled asylum seekers.
Ten-year-old Grierson will play, Neil, a mischievous boy who is mourning the death of his father. Rafferty studied at the National Theatre Drama School and in his short career has appeared in an episode of the Nine Network’s True Stories and played the lead in Alister Grierson’s short film Imagination Game.
As IF reported, Kate Mulvany will play Neil’s mother, with John Howard as the cantankerous former boss of the long-closed local steelworks who resents the presence of the asylum seekers.
Callinan is Troy Carrington, a former professional football player who returns to his country town after an abrupt end to his sporting career and is persuaded to coach the hapless local footy team, the Roosters.
Fayssal Bazzi will play the pivotal role of a Syrian refugee who joins the team after spending years in detention on Nauru where he learned English by reading the biographies of AFL footballers.
The cast also includes Penny Cook, Ben Knight, Nick Cody, Gavin Baskerville, Aaron Gocs, Harry Tseng and Zenia Starr.
Shooting is due to start in Wagga Wagga next month, produced by Anne Robinson and directed by Mark Grentell, the team behind the 2013 sleeper comedy Backyard Ashes.
The Merger received production funding from Screen Australia, Create NSW Regional Film Fund and a grant from the City of Wagga Wagga.
Umbrella Entertainment will distribute in Australia and Lightning International is handling international sales.