Based in the US for the past three years, Kieran Darcy-Smith had not seen the Jack Irish telepics when he was offered the gig as set-up director of the spin-off series starring Guy Pearce as a former criminal lawyer turned private investigator and debt collector.

After watching the telepics and reading the scripts for the 6-part ABC series by Andrew Knight, Matt Cameron and Andrew Anastasios, Darcy-Smith readily agreed.

In his first TV drama assignment, the director whose breakthrough was Wish You Were Here is directing two episodes and Mark Joffe and Daniel Nettheim are each helming two. Essential Media and Entertainment’s Ian Collie is the series producer.

“The scripts are sensational; this is as good as TV drama gets,” Kieran tells IF as shooting is underway in Melbourne to be followed by a week in the Philippines. “I am working with the A-team.”

The plot is under wraps so Darcy-Smith is circumspect, merely observing, “It’s very intricate, very relevant and very contemporary…a hot button (issue).”

He’s excited to be working with the guest cast headed by Claudia Karvan, Marcus Graham, Brooke Satchwell, Sacha Horler, Kim Gyngell, Roz Hammond, Deb Mailman, Richard Cawthorne, Terry Norris, Osamah Sami, Alan Dukes and Damien Garvey.

As well as Pearce the returning cast includes Marta Dusseldorp, Shane Jacobson, Aaron Pedersen and Roy Billing.

Collie, says, “It is comforting to be back in Jack’s world again with his close and loyal mates like punters Harry and Cam; the on-again, off-again relationship with journo Linda; Charlie the grumpy German cabinetmaker; and of course the Fitzroy Youth Club who still remain firmly welded to their stools at the Prince of Prussia pub. But the outside modern world, with its sinister and corrupt dealings, will drag Jack back into its vortex. And Jack has never been good with the modern world”

Earlier this year Darcy-Smith completed his second feature, By Way of Helena, a Western starring Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, William Hurt, Alice Braga and Benedict Samuel.

The indie revenge thriller follows Hemsworth as a Texas Ranger who is sent to an isolated town in the 1880s to investigate a series of murders. Harrelson plays Abraham, the charismatic and unsettling preacher who seems to hold the townsfolk in a fearful grip. Lionsgsate acquired the US rights.

He says shooting the film in Mississippi in 27 days on a $US7 million budget was “nigh on impossible, but we pulled it off.”

After Wish You Were Here premiered at Sundance he was offered numerous projects, all of which needed a writer-director to help secure the finance.

Now, he says, “I am in ongoing discussions with US producers about a handful of financed US projects.”

He’s attached to direct Blackwater, based on the true story of Erik Prince’s military company Blackwater Worldwide, which became a controversial player in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He’s polishing the script by Gideon Yago for producer Jon Peters and Warner Bros. and says, “It will have an A-level cast.”

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