Edwina Waddy will take charge of the development and production of Australian films at Roadshow Films from next month.
Currently channel manager at ABC Comedy, Waddy will succeed Seph McKenna, who departed last November to become CEO of Screenwest.
“It’s a key hire for Roadshow as we have a very ambitious development slate,” Roadshow Films co-CEO Joel Pearlman tells IF. “We had quite an extensive search to find the right person for the role. Edwina will bring a real vision and insight into development and overseeing the films we have going into production. She will be a great partner with me in building our production slate.”
Waddy joined the ABC as development producer, factual and documentary, in 2006 and later served as executive producer, development, commissioning editor, TV factual and channel manager ABC2. She starts at Roadshow on April 30.
Due to a quirk of timing, the distributor did not release any local titles last year but Pearlman insists: “We have never been more ambitious in this space. We really know what we want, which is films that we believe have the capacity and the capability to find a theatrical audience. All films need to be targeted to a specific audience more than ever before.”
Pearlman also announced that Roadshow will distribute Every Cloud Productions’ Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears, a spin-off of the popular ABC private detective series starring Essie Davis.
Tony Tilse will direct the 1920-set action adventure/murder mystery scripted by Deb Cox and produced by Cox and Fiona Eagger, which will follow Davis’ Miss Phryne Fisher as she embarks on a global adventure to find missing treasure, solve numerous murders and break all aviation records.
“There is a very hungry audience out there for this project,” he said. “We’re excited to see how this scales up from the small screen to the big screen.”
Roadshow is showing great confidence in Simon Baker’s directorial debut Breath, launching the coming-of-age drama adapted from Tim Winton’s novel by Winton, Baker and Gerard Lee, on about 200 screens on May 3.
The plot follows teenagers Pikelet (Samson Coulter) and Loonie (Ben Spence) and their relationship with Sando (Baker), a pro surfer who lives in a secluded house with his wife Eva (Elizabeth Debicki). Richard Roxburgh and Rachael Blake play Pikelet’s parents and Jacek Koman is Loonie’s father, a violent drunk.
Baker will host Q&A screenings around Australia following the Gold Coast Film Festival premiere on April 19, accompanied most of the time by Coulter and Spence, and by Winton in Western Australia and Sydney.
Roadshow is teaming up again with Breath producer Jamie Hilton on Go Karts, an action-packed family movie scripted by Steve Worland (Paper Planes), which follows a young boy who must overcome the odds in his quest to win the Australian Go Kart Championship. Shooting starts next month in Perth and Busselton, directed by Owen Trevor.
Pearlman is relishing the chance to work with Rachel Griffiths on her feature directing debut Ride like a Girl, which will star Teresa Palmer as Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. Sam Neill will play her father Paddy, who raised 10 kids after his wife died in a car crash when Michelle was six months old, with Jacki Weaver as Payne’s manager Joan Sadler.
“I was a big fan of Rachel’s short films,” he said. “We spoke about different projects in the past. When she brought this to us I was blown away by the script. Andrew Knight and Elise McCredie have written the most compelling story of Michelle’s life and journey, which is not well known.”
Richard Keddie is the producer and filming is due to start next month..
Another project on its slate is the English language remake of Rams, a hit Icelandic film about two long-estranged brothers in a remote valley who must reconcile in order to save their sheep, which won Un Certain Regard’s top prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
Jeremy Sims is attached to direct the Australian-set version produced by WBMC’s Janelle Landers and Aidan O’Bryan (Otherlife, Son of a Gun, Wasted on the Young).
Currently in production, writer-director Paul Clarke’s theatrical documentary Backburning profiles Midnight Oil from the rock band’s inception until today, produced by Martin Fabinyi and Carolina Sorensen for Beyond Entertainment, Blink TV and Village Roadshow.
Beyond that, Pearlman says: “We have a really strong development slate with some amazing Australian producers.”