(L-R) Tsu Shan Chambers, Martine Delaney, Chryssy Tintner, Jess Orcsik, Ally Burnham and Christine Anu.
Game of Thrones’ Reece Noi and newcomer Yiana Pandelis are playing the leads in Unsound, a quirky romantic drama now shooting in Sydney.
Directed by Ian Watson, (Doctor Doctor, Home and Away, Janet King) and scripted by Ally Burnham, the plot follows Noi as Noah, a disillusioned musician who quits the band and returns to his mother’s home.
After clashing with his mother Angela (Paula Duncan) over old wounds, Noah seeks solace elsewhere and is caught up in the vibrant, passionate life of Finn (Pandelis), a young trans man.
Finn, who only speaks Auslan, runs a centre and nightclub for his deaf community. Despite their differences, the two become closer but with no shared language to fall back on, they risk hurting each other.
The cast includes Todd McKenney as Lewis, Finn’s father, Christine Anu as Moniqua, a fiery singer who is determined to keep the band together after Noah leaves, Xavier Messariti, Olivia Beasley, Ana Maria Belo, Rachel Sang, James Fraser and Terry Serio.
It is the first feature from producer Tsu Shan Chambers, who spent three years developing the project and raising the finance. “The subject is quite controversial and has not been done before in Australian cinema; it breaks so many moulds,” she tells IF. “It was hard to raise the money in the conservative marketplace.”
An optometrist by trade, she came up with the idea, which stems from her passionate interest in inclusivity and minority groups, and worked on the screenplay with Burnham, a NIDA graduate who received funding from Screen Australia’s Gender Matters Brilliant Stories program.
Screen Australia supported the script development and encouraged Chambers to ensure the film has mainstream appeal.
“It is very relatable because it deals with love, relationships and families,” she says. “It’s quite a celebratory film with music – Christine Anu wrote two songs – and a bit of humour.”
Associate producer Jess Orcsik helped introduce Noi, an LA-based Brit who played Mossador in Game of Thrones, to casting director Cinzia Coassin. Noi’s credits include the upcoming Netflix series Central Park Five, which chronicles a 1989 case when five Harlem teenagers were wrongfully convicted of raping a female jogger in New York’s Central Park, the miniseries Houdini and Doyle and TV series Switch and Silk.
After an extensive search, Coassin found Pandelis, who is deaf and speaks Auslan. Screen Tasmania funded a director’s attachment for Martine Delaney, a trans woman who also serves as script consultant.
Kent Marcus is the DOP for the five week shoot and Chryssy Tintner is script editor. Tine Klint’s LevelK is handling international sales.