Principal photography commences this week on Gregor Jordan’s (Two Hands, Buffalo Soldiers) Dirt Music, adapted from Tim Winton’s award winning and Man Booker shortlisted novel by Jack Thorne (The Aeronauts, Wonder). Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominee Kelly Macdonald (Puzzle, No Country for Old Men, Boardwalk Empire) and Garrett Hedlund (Mudbound, Tron: Legacy) have been joined by acclaimed actor David Wenham (Lion, Top of the Lake, The Lord of the Rings). Filming begins on Bardi Jawi country in the Kimberley, Western Australia and will continue on Noongar country in Perth and Esperance, Western Australia. Complimenting the musical backbone of the film, award-winning singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Julia Stone (of internationally acclaimed Australian sibling duo Angus & Julia Stone) will bring her collaborative talents in her role as Sal. Other cast includes Aaron Pederson (Mystery Road), Chris Haywood (Muriel’s Wedding), George Mason (Home and Away) and Dan Wyllie (Animal Kingdom).
Dirt Music is produced by two-time Academy Award® nominees and BAFTA Award winners Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey (Brooklyn, An Education) of Wildgaze Films and Academy Award® nominee Angie Fielder (Lion, Wish You Were Here) and Polly Staniford (Berlin Syndrome) of Australian based production entity Aquarius Films.
Film4 developed the project with Wildgaze Films and are financing along with Screen Australia, the West Australian Regional Film Fund, Screenwest and Ingenious Media. Cornerstone Films will handle the international rights and distribution and will commence sales at the upcoming American Film Market. Focus Features acquired the international rights in Australia and New Zealand where Universal Pictures will distribute. Executive producers are Daniel Battsek, Sue Bruce-Smith and Lauren Dark for Film4 and Peter Touche and Stephen Dailey for Ingenious.
Dirt Music is a gritty, sexy drama with a haunting love story at its heart set against the powerful backdrop of Western Australia’s evocative landscape.
Georgie (MacDonald), sometime sailor, diver and nurse use to have guts. But somehow she has lost her way. Stranded in a remote fishing town on the West Australian coast she’s living with a man she doesn’t love, Jim (Wenham) and his young sons whose dead mother she can never replace. But a reckless moment leads to a life-changing encounter with Lu (Hedlund), an enigmatic loner, one time musician and sometimes poacher, outcast from the community. The two are powerfully drawn to each other and embark on an inescapable, intense and sexually charged affair. Georgie will risk everything for this chance of love, but Lu is haunted by a tragic accident from his past. For him the prospect is too painful and he retreats into the wilderness to the remotest islands leaving little clue as to his whereabouts. With the unlikely help of Jim who is determined to right the wrongs of his own past, Georgie embarks on a journey to bring Lu back from his past and his grief, ultimately finding herself.
Based on the acclaimed novel, Dirt Music is a film about people whose hopes and dreams are lost, and the redemptive power of love.
Heads of Department include Academy Award® nominated Production Designer Michael Carlin (Colette, The Duchess), Cinematographer Sam Chiplin (The Cry, Safe Harbour), Costume Designer Anna Borghesi (Hotel Mumbai, Ned Kelly), Editor Pia Di Ciaula (A Very British Scandal, Belle), and Casting Directors Lucy Bevan (An Education, Beauty and the Beast) and Kirsty McGregor (Animal Kingdom, Lion).
Producers Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey commented: “We’re honoured to bring Tim Winton’s iconic novel to screen, masterfully adapted by Jack Thorne, and with the vision of Gregor Jordan who has assembled the perfect cast; Aquarius are our ideal partners along with Film4 who developed with us from the start.”
Angie Fielder and Polly Staniford from Aquarius Films said: “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Wildgaze Films in bringing Jack Thorne’s stunning adaptation of this much-loved Australian love story to the big screen. Winton is an Australian literary legend with a dedicated fan base, and Dirt Music is a globally acclaimed book. With accomplished director Gregor Jordan at the helm, along with our brilliantly talented cast and creative team, we feel the alchemy is there for a fantastic movie.”
Director of Film4 Daniel Battsek said: “We’re so happy to see Dirt Music reach the start line. It’s been a wonderful process developing this unique film with Wildgaze, who together with Gregor and Aquarius have assembled a formidable cast and crew to tackle Jack Thorne’s pitch perfect adaptation of this classic novel. We can’t wait to see the results.”
Cornerstone Films’ Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder also noted: “We’re proud and delighted to be part of this wonderful adventure. Never has there been a better time to bring this beautiful, bold love story to the big screen for worldwide audiences to enjoy.”
Head of Content at Screen Australia, Sally Caplan said: “Dirt Music is a classic Australian story set in a fictional small West Australian fishing village, and it’s exciting to have a second Tim Winton film adaptation showcasing this beautiful part of Australia to the rest of the world. I’m sure this talented creative team and cast will do a brilliant job at bringing this popular and iconic Australian story to life.”
Screenwest’s Interim CEO Peter Rowe added: “This is such an exciting time for production in WA and Screenwest is committed to supporting creative storytelling that showcases our beautiful State and the stunning WA locations hand-picked for this film compliment Winton’s novel as a love song to the land and place of his home state. From Esperance’s stunning white beaches in the south to Cape Leveque’s red rocks in our north, WA’s diverse landscapes will be showcased on screen like never before.”
Production credit: Dirt Music is a Wildgaze Films and Aquarius Films production with major production investment from Screen Australia in association with Film4. It was financed with support from the West Australian Regional Film Fund (WARFF) and Screenwest with Ingenious Media.