Craig Silvey’s best-selling novel RUNT kicks off production in WA with Jai Courtney Leading the Cast

Craig Silvey’s best-selling novel RUNT kicks off production in WA with Jai Courtney Leading the Cast

Craig Silvey’s best-selling novel RUNT is being made into a feature film in Western Australia with an incredible all-star Australian cast including Jai Courtney, Celeste Barber, Deborah Mailman, Matt Day and Jack Thompson. Leading the picture are two new stars… nine-year-old Lily LaTorre who plays the story’s hero Annie Shearer, and rescue dog Squid in the title role of Runt (pictured).  See Pictures are commencing production on the feel-good family dog movie with major production investment from Screen Australia, Screenwest and Lotterywest and the WA Regional Screen Fund. Also co-financing are the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF), a collective of West Australian private investors assembled by Birdbath, as well as Screen NSW and Spectrum Entertainment.

The live action feature is adapted for the screen by its West Australian author Craig Silvey (Jasper Jones), to be directed by John Sheedy (H is for Happiness), and produced by Jamie Hilton (Breath, June Again).

The film’s international sales are being handled by STUDIOCANAL, Europe’s leader in production, distribution and international sales of feature films and series. STUDIOCANAL Australia and New Zealand will release locally.

Screen Australia’s Head of Content, Grainne Brunsdon said: “Supporting the talented team on Craig Silvey’s second feature film is incredibly exciting. A uniquely Australian story, but with universal charm, RUNT’s transition to the big screen will be a captivating experience for fans of the novel and new audiences alike. I can’t wait to see this heart-warming tale of transformation, which takes our protagonists on a journey from underdogs to heroes.”

RUNT is a heartfelt and hilarious contemporary Australian family feature film, set in the country town of Upson Downs. It tells the story of eleven-year-old Annie Shearer and her best friend, an adopted stray dog called Runt, who try to save their family farm by competing in the Agility Course Grand Championships at the prestigious Krumpets Dog Show in London. Annie lives on the struggling sheep farm with her brother Max, parents Bryan and Susie, and Annie’s grandma Dolly.

Acclaimed author Craig Silvey said: “I’m absolutely thrilled Runt will be moving into production here in Western Australia, with a stellar cast and crew under the brilliant leadership of director John Sheedy and producer Jamie Hilton. I’m a parochial Western Australian storyteller, and I’m especially proud that we will be showcasing the landscapes, architecture, and community spirit of the Wheatbelt region through the town of Upson Downs.”

The cast features siblings in the roles of children Annie and Max. Lily LaTorre (Run Rabbit Run) will play protagonist Annie, alongside her actual brother – newcomer Jack LaTorre as daredevil Max.

International star Jai Courtney (Jack Reacher, Divergent, Suicide Squad) is their father Bryan Shearer, returning to Perth for the production (where he studied at WAAPA – WA Academy of Performing Arts), alongside Australia’s “Queen of comedy” Celeste Barber (Wellmania, The Letdown) as Susie Shearer.

Beloved screen legend Deborah Mailman (Sapphires, Total Control) will play mentor Bernadette Box and Australian icon Jack Thompson (Breaker Morant, The Man from Snowy River, Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones) is the villainous Earl Robert-Barren.

Rounding out the ensemble is Matt Day (Sweet Country, Muriel’s Wedding, Tangle) as the unscrupulous Fergus Fink and Tom Budge (Candy, Tracks, The Proposition) as his sidekick Simpkins, with Genevieve Lemon (Power of the Dog, The Piano) playing the fearless Grandmother looking for love, Dolly Shearer.

Squid will play Runt – a dog of indeterminable breed and buckets of charm. Like Runt, Squid is a rescue, the production’s animal department cast and rescued her, she has undergone months of training and is ready to become an Australian screen legend herself.

Author Craig Silvey (left) with Lily LaTorre who plays Annie (right) and Squid (middle) – PHOTO CREDIT – Court McAllister & on social @Mac1Photo

Screenwest CEO Rikki Lea Bestall said: “Screenwest is excited to see yet another fantastic WA story being brought to life on the big screen. RUNT is sure to be an instant family classic and is continuing our biggest year of scripted production ever and flurry of screen activity happening in the Wheatbelt region.”

The hit novel RUNT was released in 2022 and has won a clean sweep of the major Australian literary awards including the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year for Young Readers, Book of the Year for Younger Children at the Australian Book Industry Awards, and overall Book of the Year at the Australian Indie Book Awards.

Producer Jamie Hilton said RUNT is a brilliant local story from a WA luminary, with international appeal for all ages: “It’s an honour to bring Craig’s beloved story to the big screen with a huge cast of Australia’s most beloved actors. The See Pictures team, our investors, many of our cast and crew, are Aussie parents who are making this joyful movie for our kids and grandkids. We’re trying to channel timeless characters like Babe and Paddington, to create an Australian legend we can all cherish.”

Director John Sheedy said: “To work alongside some of Australia’s most iconic actors is a true privilege and I’m delighted to collaborate with Craig Silvey once again. Together, we are crafting a feel-good movie that promises to take the audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, from belly laughs to heartfelt moments, all while exuding endless charm.”

Elizabeth Trotman CEO STUDIOCANAL ANZ echoed the sentiments of all parties: “With a stellar cast and crew, and with the leadership of director John Sheedy and producer Jamie Hilton, “Runt” is in capable hands. We are thrilled to be working with Jamie and See Pictures once again and delighted to be bringing Runt into the home of Paddington.”

A dog-movie for the ages destined as a classic, RUNT is about being yourself and bringing out the best in others. Craig Silvey says RUNT is a timely reminder that ‘You don’t have to carry the weight of the world in your tool belt’.

“RUNT is a story that is defiant in its message of hope. It’s about kindness, generosity, resilience, and compassion, and it encourages its audience to live their true and better selves. There’s a lot of darkness in the world right now, and this film will be a big ray of sunshine,” he said.

RUNT will begin shooting in Western Australia, in Perth and the Wheatbelt town of York in November.

Production Credit: Runt is a See Pictures Pty Ltd production. Major production investment from Screen Australia in association with Screenwest, Lotterywest and the WA Regional Screen Fund. Financed with support from Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF), Birdbath, Screen NSW, and Spectrum Entertainment. Developed with the assistance of Screenwest and Lotterywest. Local distribution and international sales by STUDIOCANAL.

AccessReel is the Western Australian movie-lovers website.