Ella Cannon and Jenna Rosenow. (Image: Paul Smith Photography)
Actors Ella Cannon and Jenna Rosenow have turned their attention to producing, with the pair’s newly formed production company Midnight Madhouse optioning Deborah J. Swiss’ narrative non-fiction novel The Tin Ticket for a television drama.
The project will be the flagship production for the venture, which the two began setting up at the end of last year.
Originally published in 2011, The Tin Ticket tells the true story of the many transported women who were once referred to as the “convict stain”, and one woman who was doing all that she could to save them.
Unjustly arrested en masse to serve as “breeders and tamers”, these women were discarded by their homeland and forgotten by history.
The novel aims to reveal the truths about a social engineering experiment that both the British and Australian governments covered up for nearly a century via the perspective of two street urchins, who make their way from the streets of Glasgow to London’s Newgate Prison, and then onto a converted slave ship bound for the ‘Female Factory’ in Van Diemen’s land (present-day Tasmania).
Cannon and Rosenow are set to present the concept alongside Swiss at the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Massachusetts this month, before heading over to London to develop what they anticipate to be an Australia/UK co-production.
Cannon, who will next be seen in the upcoming Netflix drama Trees of Peace, told IF she came across the story after being inspired to find out more about Australia’s early years.
“I actually had a Netflix documentary playing on the TV about Australia’s history and this tiny little sentence popped up about women’s role in the settling and I was like, ‘You know what, that’s so weird. I’ve never considered their place in all of this’,” she said.
“So I googled it and the book popped up and I just decided to order it. As soon as I read it, I was just like, ‘Wow, this story needs to be told’.”
After contacting Swiss, Cannon and Rosenow learned the rights to The Tin Ticket had already been taken up elsewhere. However, after talking with the pair, the author let the deal expire and signed a new agreement with Midnight Madhouse in February.
“I think [she went to us] because we were two Australian women that obviously we’re very passionate about the history behind the project,” Cannon said.
“She was just really excited to jump on board with us and we all gelled so it was really symbiotic kind of thing.”
The Tin Ticket promises to set the tone for Midnight Madhouse, which is focused on bringing powerful female-driven stories into the spotlight.
Cannon said she and Rosenow, known for her roles on Neighbours and Netflix’s Firefly Lane, wanted to be a “part of the change that is happening in telling empowering female stories”.
“Being in front of the camera, we have been subjected to feeling like potentially the support in male-oriented stories or the love interest,” she said.
“For me actually doing this last film Trees of Peace, which is an incredible story about the bonds of sisterhood, sparked a real interest in me to continue being a pioneer in telling those stories.
“Jen is very much on the same page and I think it just felt like a natural progression for us. “
Midnight Madhouse is aiming to begin production on The Tin Ticket mid to late next year across Australia and the UK, with a named director and writer still to be attached.