Sunstar options story of a paraplegic who beat the odds
Continuing his passion to produce films based on true Australian events, Sunstar Entertainment’s Andrew Fraser has optioned the remarkable story of athlete John Maclean.
Maclean was hit by an 8 tonne truck while training for a triathlon on his bike in 1988. He suffered multiple breaks to his pelvis and back, a fractured sternum, punctured lungs and a broken arm, which left him a paraplegic.
Somehow, this near fatal accident was the making of him. Although he feared he would never walk again, rather than give up he swam the English Channel, completed the Hawaiian Ironman and represented Australia in rowing at the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In 2014 he astounded the medical world when he completed the triathlon he was training for all those years earlier – with his wife and son by his side.
Fraser, who has known Maclean for 20 years, bumped into him recently at a fundraiser. “When he found out about Sunstar, he started telling me about all the interest he’s had overseas following some speaking gigs he did in Canada and Florida,” Fraser tells IF.
“He’s such an inspirational guy it was no surprise to hear. Plenty of US companies had warmed to his story and wanted to option his life rights, so he sought my advice on it.”
Sunstar bought options on the life rights and on Maclean’s upcoming book How Far Can You Go?, which will chronicle his journey to become an elite wheelchair athlete and to walk again.
The turning point came in 2013 when Maclean approached neurophysics therapist Ken Ware, who put him through the ‘WareK Health Trigger Process.’
Since 1998 he has run his own charitable foundation which provides support and assistance to Australian wheelchair users under the age of 18.
That will be Sunstar’s fourth project based on a true Australian story. The firm co-produced Lion with See-Saw Films, the Garth Davis-directed drama which tells how Saroo Brierley, an Indian-born Australian, found his birth mother 25 years after they were separated. The Weinstein Co. acquired the US and other territory rights to the film starring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman and David Wenham, which will be released in 2016.
In development is True Spirit, a feature about Jessica Watson's solo around-the-world sailing adventure, to be directed by Around the Block's Sarah Spillane. Watson was 16 when she became the youngest person ever to navigate around the world solo and unassisted in 2010.
Sunstar is also developing Inmate 002, the story of Australian David Hicks, who spent 5½ years in Guantanamo Bay accused of supporting terrorism. His conviction was later set aside and he was declared an innocent man.