The Turning a career catalyst for first-time directors

01 July, 2013 by Don Groves

David Wenham, Stephen Page and Mia Wasikowska had their first taste of film directing on The Turning, an innovative feature based on Tim Winton’s collection of short stories, and now they’ve got the directing “bug.”

All three will graduate to directing features, according to Arenamedia’s Robert Connolly who produced The Turning with Maggie Miles.


Billed by Connolly as a “bold cinematic event,”  the film will premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival, which opens July 25, and debut in cinemas later this year, co-distributed by Connolly’s CinemaPlus and Madman Entertainment.

Connolly tells IF the film will screen as a three-hour event with intermission around Australia and attendees will receive copies of the programme. He’ll finish the film at the end of next week, one year after he started on what he describes as a “huge endeavour.”

Spanning 30 years, the inter-locking stories revolve around the turning points in the lives of the people of a small coastal community in Western Australia. Each óf the 17 segments is 10 minutes, utilising a mix of first-time directors and seasoned hands including Connolly, Tony Ayres, Claire McCarthy, Warwick Thornton and Justin Kurzel.

Connolly is developing a feature with Wenham based on Clinton Caward’s novel Love Machine, a quirky romance set in a Kings Cross sex shop. Wenham has written the screenplay and plans to direct, with Connolly producing.

Stephen Page is working on a feature with producer John Harvey, with whom he collaborated on a segment of The Turning. The topic is under wraps but Connolly says the project stems from Page’s role as artistic director of the Bangarra Dance Theatre.

Connolly isn’t sure when Wasikowska will make her feature directing debut but says, “She’s got the bug; her work is so good.”

Late this year Connolly will direct Paper Planes, a drama about a boy from a small outback town who dreams of competing in the World Paper Plane Championships in Japan, shot in Perth .

On his slate for next year are The Shipkiller, a high seas revenge saga which he’ll direct and produce with Hollywood hot shot Gale Ann Hurd; and The Man Who Walked Around the World, an HBO movie he’ll write and direct, based on the true story of the first person verified to have completed circling the entire land mass of the Earth (except the oceans) on foot.