David Wenham, Aaron Pedersen, Chris Haywood and singer-songwriter Julia Stone have joined Garrett Hedlund and Kelly Macdonald in Dirt Music, Gregor Jordan’s adaptation of the Tim Winton novel.
Now shooting in Bardi Jawi country in the Kimberley, Western Australia, it’s described as a gritty, sexy drama overlaid with a haunting love story.
As IF reported, Macdonald is playing Georgie, a sometime sailor, diver and nurse who is stranded in a remote fishing town with Jim (Wenham), a man she doesn’t love, and his young sons whose dead mother she can never replace.
A reckless moment leads Georgie to an intense, sexually charged affair with Lu Fox (Hedlund), an enigmatic loner, musician and poacher who is traumatised by a tragic accident from his past.
When Lu retreats into the wilderness, Georgie embarks on a journey to bring him back with the unlikely help of Jim, who is determined to right wrongs from his own past.
In her film debut Stone, one half of the sibling duo Angus & Julia Stone, plays Sal, with George Mason as Darkie, both members of the Fox family. Chris Haywood is Georgie’s father Warwick with Dan Wyllie as Rusty and Aaron Pedersen as Beaver, who both live in the town.
The screenplay is by Englishman Jack Thorne, whose credits include Wonder and the miniseries His Dark Materials, National Treasure and The Last Panthers.
The producers are Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey of the UK’s Wildgaze Films and Aquarius Films’ Angie Fielder and Polly Staniford. Dwyer and Posey were Oscar-nominated for Brooklyn and An Education. Their credits include Ritesh Batra’s Our Souls at Night, a Netflix commission which starred Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, and Lone Scherfig’s Their Finest.
The heads of department include production designer Michael Carlin (Colette, The Duchess), DOP Sam Chiplin (The Cry, Safe Harbour), costume designer Anna Borghesi (Hotel Mumbai) and editor Pia Di Ciaula (A Very British Scandal, Belle). The casting directors are Lucy Bevan (An Education, Beauty and the Beast) and Kirsty McGregor (Lion).
Film4 developed the project with Wildgaze Films and is co-financing with Screen Australia, the West Australian Regional Film Fund, Screenwest and Ingenious Media. Cornerstone Film’s Alison Thompson and Mark Gooder are handling the international rights, starting at the American Film Market.
Focus Features acquired the international rights in Australia and New Zealand where Universal Pictures will distribute.
Fielder and Staniford 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.”
Daniel Battsek, director of Film4, added: “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.”
Hedlund, whose credits include Mudbound, Pan and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, recently starred in Triple Frontier, a Netflix movie about five friends who re-unite to take down a South American drug lord, directed by J.C. Chandor.
Macdonald starred in Goodbye Christopher Robin, T2 Trainspotting, Boardwalk Empire and in the upcoming BBC One/Netflix thriller Giri/Haji.