Director Ray Lawrence hopes to shoot his next two films, Here at the End of the World and Spinifex, back-to-back next year.
That may be a tall order for the filmmaker who has made just two pictures since his breakthrough Bliss (1985), which won three AFI awards and was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. That was followed by Lantana (2001) and Jindabyne (2006).
“Each time I make a film I think it will be easier to do the next one, but it gets harder,” says Lawrence, who makes a good living directing TVCs. Here at the End of the World is an adaptation of the Lloyd Jones novel which spans three generations and several continents.
The main protagonist is Rosa, a spoilt, self-obsessed and unhappily married Spanish woman who lives in Wellington and has an affair with a 19-year-old farm boy. She ends up in Buenos Aires where she discovers long-buried secrets about her grandmother’s past.
Spanish actress Elena Anaya (The Skin I Live In, Point Blank) will play Rosa and Emily Browning (Sucker Punch, Sleeping Beauty) has been cast as a young woman who meets Rosa's grandfather during WW1.
The project looks set to start shooting in Argentina and later New Zealand in April as an Australian-NZ co-production. The producers are Barrie Osborne (The Lord of the Rings), Dan Hennah, Emma Slack and Andrew Mason.
Lawrence says Hennah bought the rights then joined forces with Osborne. The first drafts of the script were written by Kiwi Graeme Tetley, who died in 2011. Bea Christian has written the screenplay.
On Spinifex Lawrence is working with producer Tony Buckley, renewing their collaboration after Bliss. Lawrence’s screenplay is the saga of two sisters who are estranged for 20 years. As their mother is getting frail, the younger sister goes off in search of her sister who lives in Alice Springs and runs an Aboriginal art gallery, with the aims of bringing her home and restoring their relationship.
The director says he offered the part of the older sister to Naomi Watts. She agreed but said he’d have to wait for three years when there is a gap in her schedule. Lawrence can’t wait that long and is in the process of casting the roles.
Screen Australia has given Buckley and Lawrence a letter of intent and Palace is aboard as the Australian distributor. He’d need to shoot Spinifex in Alice Springs in winter, which is why he thinks the two films could happen back-to-back.