Anthony Hayes.

Anthony Hayes.

Anthony Hayes will direct and co-star with Sam Worthington in Gold, a thriller about two guys who discover the world’s biggest gold nugget in the Australian desert.

Due to shoot in South Australia in September, the film will be produced by Deeper Water Films’ John and Michael Schwarz and Hayes’ Rogue Star Pictures.

Hayes co-wrote the script with his partner, former costumer Polly Smyth (Conspiracy 365, Crawlspace, Killer Elite), her first writing credit.

The plot sees the men hatch a plan to excavate the gold as one leaves to secure equipment while the other stays behind to protect the discovery.

Saboteur Films, which reps Kriv Stenders’ Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan produced by Red Dune Productions’ Martin Walsh and the Schwarz brothers, is pitching the project at the Cannes film market.

Hayes tells IF: “Polly and I wanted to come up with a smart film with few cast and one location. We have one more major cast to announce.”

It will be his second feature as director following the 2008 drama Ten Empty, in which he co-starred with Brendan Cowell.

Michael Schwarz tells IF: “We’ve got a few projects on the boil with Tony and this is the one I’ve been most excited about getting going. It’s a great set up that lays the ground work for Sam’s fantastic lead performance.

“Tony has become an exceptional writer over the last few years and the work he and Polly have done here together is phenomenal.”

Saboteur distribution president Mark Lindsay said: “When I read Anthony and Polly’s screenplay, I knew this was something we wanted to do and when Sam committed that brought the whole project together for us.”

The Australian distributor is expected to be announced during Cannes. The DOP is Andrew Commis (Babyteeth, High Ground, Girl Asleep, The Rocket) who first worked with Hayes on The Slap. The project was developed with the assistance of Screen Australia, Film Victoria and the South Australian Film Corporation.

Saboteur also reps Stingray, a crime thriller which Hayes wrote and was set to direct in 2016 until the financing fell through.

Hayes now hopes to shoot that film, produced by the Schwarz brothers, in the second quarter of next year. It’s the saga of a young guy caught up in organised crime who accidentally kills the brother of a powerful crime figure and is then forced to kill one of his own family in the next two days to pay off his blood debt.

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