A newlywed couple, a murderous cat, and a neighbouring cockatoo are the main players in a blood-soaked tale being developed by WA writer-director Aaron McCann.
Written at the peak of the pandemic last year, Jonesy centres on the titular feline’s attempts to telepathically convince his owner to help kill the neighbour’s pet cockatoo. However, a combination of bad planning and ineptitude leads to a grizzly triple homicide and a desperate attempt at a cover-up.
The feature film is currently in the financing stage, with Michael Facey on board as producer and Monster Pictures to handle Australian distribution.
McCann, who recently produced web series Hug the Sun with Johnny Ma and Aunty Donna, said the idea for the horror/comedy came from hearing about the behaviour of some pets during lockdown.
“We had just adopted a cat of our own and in going on the internet and looking for articles about cats, I stumbled on one about a woman in Spain who passed away and her cat partially devoured her,” he said.
“I thought that was kind of interesting so I just started writing from there.”
McCann and Facey will showcase the project to buyers from around the world next month as part of the Frontières International Co-Production Market at the Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal.
Specifically designed for projects in early-stage development, the market facilitates meetings with producers, sales agents, distributors, and financiers, all of whom are seeking involvement with genre films.
Jonesy is one of 20 projects invited to the virtually held event and the only Australian project in the field.
McCann said it was “fantastic” to be included, albeit under different circumstances than he had anticipated.
“I was very much writing it for myself and I looked at the Montreal co-production market and thought on a blind chance that I would put it in,” he said.
“We’re a genre film and I thought it would be interesting to go into this market.
“When we put the application in last year, we thought international travel would be back, which has not so much been the case.”
Despite “being on the nightshift” for the virtual meetings, he’s hopeful the market would pave the way forward for the project.
“We’re looking to attach international co-producers to build it up and from there; we are hoping to come back to our Australian financiers and funding bodies and put a package out to them,” he said.
“If we can have all those chess pieces in place, we’ll be good to start casting and that we’ll be the final piece we need before moving into proper pre-production.”
Jonesy is the first collaboration between McCann and Facey, whose 2011 short film Kanowna won the Special Jury Award at the Canada International Film Festival.
The Scullface Entertainment producer said he was instantly attracted to the project.
“A major drawcard for me is having a newlywed LGBTQI+ couple as the main characters,” he said.
“This will allow us to explore the subtle homophobia that occurs in the outer suburbs of Australia.
“Ultimately, Jonesy is a blood-soaked tale featuring a cute cat, and is intended to be a hilarious, horrifying rollercoaster ride.”
The Frontières International Co-Production Market takes place virtually in Montréal, from August 4-6, and will be held in conjunction with the Fantasia International Film Festival which runs until August 25.