SBS’s Sunshine will attract viewers as an edge-of-the-seat crime thriller which introduces fresh faces and provides insights into a little-known community.
That’s according to Elise McCredie, who co-created and co-scripted with Matt Cameron the four-part drama directed by Daina Reid and produced by Easy Tiger and Carver Films, which premieres on Wednesday October 18 at 8.30pm.
Set in the Melbourne suburb of Sunshine, the plot follows Jacob (Wally Elnour) a young, aspiring South Sudanese-Australian basketballer whose dreams of playing for the NBA are jeopardised when he and his friends are suspected of perpetrating the violent assault of a teenage girl.
Anthony LaPaglia plays Eddie, a former basketballer who agrees to coach Jacob’s underperforming team, The Sunshine Kings. Melanie Lynskey is Zara, a lawyer and adopted daughter of the coach known as The White Peacock (Kym Gyngell), who comes to Jacob’s aid.
It was a challenge writing the scripts knowing the three young South Sudanese leads would be played by unknowns, all of whom had to be accomplished basketballers, McCredie tells IF.
The writers and Reid credit casting director Allison Meadows with unearthing exiting new talent in Elnour, Ror da Poet and Autiak Aweteek.
The original idea came from journalist Lisa Cox, who developed a one-page outline with Essential Media and Entertainment development executive Rachael Turk (who has since joined Ian Collie at Easy Tiger), which was then pitched to SBS.
The broadcaster liked the concept of a sports/crime genre story set among the South Sudanese community.
Cameron brought on McCredie, with whom he had collaborated on numerous plays and a few TV shows. They each wrote two episodes and script-edited the other’s scripts.
The research involved a lot of discussions with South Sudanese people to win their trust, and, as McCredie puts it, assure them this would not be another “hatchet job” on their community.
The director and writers had a lot of help from South Sudanese-born Ez Eldin Deng, who served as director’s attachment, cultural consultant and liaison between the production and the community.
Since then she has written an episode of Easy Tiger’s Jack Irish and is busy developing her own projects.
McCredie and Andrew Knight have co-written Ride Like a Girl, the biopic which will star Teresa Palmer as Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. Rachel Griffiths will direct and Richard Keddie will produce, with shooting expected to start next March.
“Rachel has this great energy and so wants to make the great Australian sports movie; her energy is infectious,” she said
Screen Australia’s Gender Matters initiative has supported that project and Overflow, a six-part crime drama/mystery which Claudia Karvan will produce.
The plot revolves around a river which is strangely rising in a drought-stricken city as bodies which have been cooked from the inside start to surface. Karvan will play the detective in charge of the case. The project will be pitched at C21 Media’s international drama summit Content London in late November.
Knight is also working with McCredie as script consultant on The Boat Builder, a feature to be produced by Marian Macgowan which will tell how Jørn Utzon and NSW Premier Joe Cahill battled political forces to realise their vision of the Sydney Opera House.
Also on her slate is Stateless, a four-part political thriller/drama to be produced by Cate Blanchett and Matchbox Pictures’ Tony Ayres. She likens the structure to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Babel in that it follows four inter-locking characters, based on an original idea by Blanchett.