Director set for Jessica Watson biopic

Sarah Spillane will direct True Spirit, a feature about teenager Jessica Watson's solo, around-the-world sailing adventure.

The producer, Sunstar Entertainment’s Andrew Fraser, tells IF that casting is underway and the aim is to start shooting on the Gold Coast in July.

Watson was 16 when she became the youngest person ever to navigate around the world solo and unassisted in 2010.

Fraser contacted the Los Angeles-based Spillane after being impressed with Around the Block, which starred Christina Ricci, Hunter Page-Lochard, Matt Nable, Daniel Henshall and Jack Thompson.

He started looking for a new director after parting ways with Soul Surfer’s Sean McNamara. Sunstar manages Watson, who is consulting on the project.

Nable and Cathy Randall wrote the first drafts of the screenplay, based on Watson’s memoir True Spirit, and Spillane penned the final draft. Arc Entertainment is co-producing.  Paramount Pictures will distribute in Australia and New Zealand.

Fraser and Shahen Mekertichian are executive producing Lion, a drama based on the true story of Saroo Brierley, an Indian-born Australian who found his birth mother 25 years after they were separated, directed by Garth Davis, who co-directed Top of the Lake with Jane Campion.

Shooting starts next week in India with Dev Patel as the lead and Nicole Kidman as his adopted mother. The producers are See-Saw Films’ Emile Sherman and Iain Canning and Aquarius Films’ Angie Fielder.

The Weinstein Co. paid $US12 million for worldwide rights excluding Australasia, where Transmission Films will distribute.