Brian Trenchard-Smith looks to China

Anglo/Australian filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith is developing Sword Point, a drama about an injured Chinese gymnast who takes up fencing in a bid to realise her dream of representing China in sport.

The Los Angeles-based filmmaker and his producing partner Marty Fink are shopping the project to Chinese companies with a view to a mounting it as an Australian/Chinese co-production.

The sports-themed drama may seem far removed from the usual milieu of the writer-director whose credits include the action adventures BMX Bandits, The Man from Hong Kong and Stunt Rock, horror movies Turkey Shoot and Dead End Drive-in, and TV’s Flipper.

“I have no usual milieu if you look at my resume, GenresRUs; this will be a sports movie,” said the filmmaker who is on the Gold Coast shooting Hard Drive, an action comedy that stars John Cusack as a mysterious American who arrives in Brisbane, goes looking for a getaway driver and hires a driving school instructor and washed-out Formula One driver (Thomas Jane).

He said the inspiration for Sword Point springs from his lifelong enjoyment of fencing (he captained the school fencing team and a few years ago tied for bronze in the Southern California Veterans Epee) and a long-held desire to make a movie about swordplay.

“There are brief references to this in my earlier work,” he said. “My first 8mm film at age 15 was a 4 minute short called The Duel. The Ninja Nun Sister Gloria in Night of the Demons 2 practices fencing moves with her yard stick, and there is a bloodless duel in Aztec Rex.”

He and Fink, the producer of Stunt Rock, are scouting for an Australian co-producer who has experience in Chinese co-productions. His screenplay was among five winners of the second prize at last month’s Beijing International Screenwriting Competition organised by Beijing’s state-owned Cultural Assets Supervision & Administration Office.

The contest encouraged US-based filmmakers to create compelling cinematic stories centred on Beijing and to foster artistic collaboration between China and the US. Each second prize winner received Final Draft software.

Entering the final week of the Hard Drive shoot, Trenchard-Smith said, “John Cusack and Thomas Jane are brilliant. It will be a very quirky action comedy.”

It’s his second film shot on the Gold Coast following Absolute Deception, an action thriller which stars Emmanuelle Vaugier as a US reporter on the trail of the men who killed her husband at a marina, with Cuba Gooding Jr. as a laconic FBI agent; it opens in Australia on August 29 via IFM/Filmways.

He’s also attached to direct Weekend Warriors, a thriller set in a remote forest valley where an inexperienced junior officer strives to save his men and his brother from his psychopathic former mentor, a co-prod between the UK’s The Spice Factory and Australia’s David Hannay Productions and Vincero Productions with Stealth Australia.