Breathless Films, JJ Splice turn up the heat with Dean Francis’ ‘Body Blow’

Tom Rodgers, Sacha Horler, and Tim Pocock.

Lonesome collaborators Breathless Films and JJ Splice are teaming up for a queer, neo-noir independent feature film that has commenced principal photography in Sydney.

Written and directed by Lonesome DOP Dean Francis, Body Blow stars Tim Pocock as Aiden, a young cop who needs to overcome a sex addiction in order to hold down his job. Unfortunately, Aiden’s new assignment brings him into the orbit of drag queen and crime boss, Fat Frankie (Paul Capsis), whose entourage includes the enigmatic Cody (Tom Rodgers). Cody exerts more than a casual pull on Aiden and inevitably throws a spanner in Aiden’s best-laid nofap plans, threatening to blow it all, while also offering Aiden the potential to find love.

The five-week shoot will take place around inner-city Darlinghurst, with cinematographer Franc Biffone and production designer Chris Le Page aiming to combine an ’80s neon colour palette with the underworld atmosphere of Sydney’s gay district.

Francis will produce with Timothy May for JJ Splice, working alongside Breathless Films’ Ben Ferris and Ulysses Oliver.

The writer/director described Body Blow as a “bold, stylised, and sexy” homage to noirs such as Body Heat and Double Indemnity.

“The film noir genre’s emphasis on transgression and desire makes it a fabulous lens through which to explore queer identity and culture,” he said.

The film signals the beginning of Breathless Films’ second slate, with Oliver and Ferris having completed production on five films, including Molly Haddon’s The Longest Weekend and Jim Weir and Jack Clark’s genre-hybrid feature Birdeater, since starting the company in 2020.

Earlier this year, the pair conducted a callout for writers and directors of all experience levels to submit ideas for micro-budget projects they could take forward.

Ferris said while selecting Body Blow for the slate was part of the same curatorial process, they had known about the project for longer as a result of their previous collaboration with Francis.

Body Blow celebrates Sydney’s recognisable queer culture in a genre that will be refreshingly entertaining for an international audience,” he said.

Oliver said it was the response to Lonesome, which reached audiences in the US, UK, and Europe, that made them “pretty excited to jump onto another queer film”.

No distributor is attached to the film as yet, although Ferris said there is interest from a local company.