Screen Australia has found investment funding to back a new feature film: Backtrack.

It is the first major feature film or television project to receive funding from Screen Australia since last December, when the national screen agency revealed that it had committed its entire annual $42 milion budget within half a year.

While the funding for Backtrack surprised some in the industry, Screen Australia previously said the funding allocation was anticipated last December but only approved at the February 20 board meeting.

Backtrack is described as a spine-chilling supernatural thriller from writer/director Michael Petroni and producers Jamie Hilton (The Waiting City) and Antonia Barnard (Last Ride). The film follows a psychologist whose life is thrown into turmoil when he discovers his patients are all ghosts of people who died in an accident 20 years prior. Hilton said the film is expected to shoot mid-year, depending on cast availability.

Petroni also wrote the screenplay for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as well as exorcism film The Rite and vampire film Queen of the Damned, while his directing credits include Till Human Voices Wake Us. He also penned the adaptation of Markus Zusak's novel The Book Thief, which is expected to enter production soon.

In a statement announcing the funding, Screen Australia chief executive Ruth Harley said: “Backtrack is an emotionally moving and engaging story with a unique Australian setting that should appeal to a wide audience both here and internationally. It’s great to have Australian writer/director Michael Petroni return home to make this film after gaining a number of significant international writing credits including his most recent, The Rite, which took $96.1 million worldwide.”

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Synopsis: Psychologist Peter Bowers’ life is thrown into turmoil when he discovers that his patients are the ghosts of people who all died in an accident 20 years previously. Afraid of losing his mind, Peter returns to his home town where he uncovers a terrifying truth which only he can put right. Backtrack is a spine-chilling supernatural thriller in the vein of The Sixth Sense and What Lies Beneath.
Production Company: See Pictures Pty Ltd
Producers: Jamie Hilton, Antonia Barnard
Writer/Director: Michael Petroni
Australian Distributor: Madman Entertainment
International Sales: Bankside

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  1. Good luck to him. These are tricky films to make in Australia. Don’t like he’s chances of pulling this off, especially without a big name attached, but full credit to him for having the balls to create somethings that isn’t of the norm for this country’s films.

  2. It’s great to see that Screen Australia is backing something that (from the sound of it) has chance of being a real commercial success internationally.

    Hats off to Michael Petroni for getting this project off the ground. I look forward to watching this film with great anticipation.

    And to other screenwriters/directors out there, the Australian film industry needs good news stories like this! So get your thinking caps on and come up with some great STORIES that can be made in great films! We’ve made more than our fair share of kitchen sink dramas – time to produce that audiences WANT to SEE!

    Over to you!

  3. ‘Kitchen Sink Dramas’ are not the issue. GREAT stories are the issue with Australian writers. Considering his past work, I don’t have a lot of faith this script will be great (exempt for Aaliyah’s movements ‘Queen of the Damned’ was garbage in every capacity. We have great acting and directing talent, writing talent? Not so much.

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