Very few Australian films in recent years have focussed on strong female characters, according to writer-director Louise Wadley.
Wadley is doing her bit to redress the gender balance with The Trouble with E, a road movie/romance/thriller with two female protagonists.
Adelaide actress Mandahla Rose will play E, a beautiful, sexy DJ who stumbles on a stash of cash and is forced on the run into the Outback. An actress whose contract is being finalised will play Trish, E’s girlfriend, with whom she has a messy break-up.
The cast includes Brett Rodgers as Matt, E’s gay best friend who marries her to get a visa, Kim Antonia-Hayes as her mother Nadine and Simon Bolton as Johnny Rock, a villain who runs a nightclub as a front for peddling drugs.
Wadley developed the project with the assistance of Outfest Los Angeles, which picked her screenplay for its mentoring program. She was mentored by US producer-director-writer Michele Mulroney, who wrote Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
Outfest arranged live readings of the script at the Directors Guild of America theatre in Los Angeles and in Chicago. Those readings gave Wadley valuable feedback on which parts of the script worked and those that didn’t, she tells IF.
She refined the script with the assistance of script editor Alison Tilson (Japanese Story, Road to Nhill). Wadley and producer Jay Rutovitz, her partner in Girls’ Own Pictures, have raised most of the budget, casting is complete and shooting is due to begin in Sydney and Western NSW on November 18.
Mandahla’s credits include the web series Wastelander Panda, a post-apocalyptic adventure in which she plays a girl who sets off with mutant panda Arcayus to avenge his brother’s death; and Aaron Schuppan’s short film Pale Blue Dot, which premieres at the Adelaide Film Festival. In the latter she plays an astronaut who travels into the near future to discover the world has been destroyed and to try to find her husband (Nic English), the lone survivor.
The budget for The Trouble with E is $720,000. Half of that is coming from private investors ($226,000 has been secured so far), with the balance from the producer offset and $90,000 from crowd-funding site Pozible.
Rutovitz says, “We are continuing to raise private finance and may approach Screen Australia for completion finance once we have a rough cut.” The producers have had initial discussions with Australian distributors and sales agents but there are no deals yet.
The English-born Wadley attended the National Film and Television School in the UK. Her directing credits include To Russia With Love (a documentary about an Irish woman who tried to help two Russian orphans) and the fictional short films Knickers and Just a Little Crush.
“It’s a universal story dealing with people who are trying to work out who they are, their identity,” she says.