First-time feature director Rosie Lourde finds ‘Romance on the Menu’

Rosie Lourde (l) with Cindy Busby (Photo credit: David Fell).

Rosie Lourde is making her feature film directing debut on Romance on the Menu, a romantic comedy from the Steve Jaggi Company now shooting in Brisbane.

Scripted by Americans Casie Tabanou and Alison Spuck, who wrote Jaggi’s Back of the Net, the film stars Canadian Cindy Busby (Heartland) as New York restaurateur Caroline Wilson, who inherits a café in Lemon Myrtle Cove, Australia.

As she renovates the business to sell, she begins to fall in love with the place, its people and charming local chef Simon Cook (Tim Ross).

While her ex-fiancé Nathaniel (Joey Vieira) begging her to take him back and pressing work commitments back home, she is faced with a big decision: Give up her New York life and stay in Lemon Myrtle Cove or return to the big city.

Naomi Sequeira plays Beth with Marita Wilcox as Marla, who both work in the café, and Peter Bensley is Dale, the local lawyer.

Utah-based Koan Inc., whose execs Jaggi met at several MIFF 37° South markets, is handling foreign sales and co-financing the project, which is using the Producer Offset, cash-flowed by Head Gear Films. This is Koan’s first venture in Australia.

Dov Kornits and Lou Balletti’s FilmInk Presents will distribute in Australia. Kornits was the head of distribution at Umbrella Entertainment when it released the Jaggi-produced Rip Tide.

Jaggi tells IF he was keen to move into the rom-com genre after producing several young adult films and decided the Romance on the Menu script fitted the bill.

He first worked with Lourde on Jonnie Leahy’s 2015 drama Skin Deep, which she produced, and she starred in Jaggi’s romantic drama Chocolate Oyster last year.

Lourde says: “It’s wonderful to round out 2019 working on an uplifting romantic comedy with a talented team here in Brisbane, including first AD Christine Luby and DOP Jason Hargreaves ACS.

“We think audiences around the globe will fall in love with the characters in the film and our little seaside town of Lemon Myrtle Cove.”

Jaggi is producing with Spencer McLaren, with Kelly Son Hing and Kylie Pascoe co-producing.

MarVista Entertainment has sealed a worldwide deal excluding Australasia with a major studio, yet to be revealed, for Jaggi’s Swimming for Gold, a young adult feature from first-time director Hayley MacFarlane.

Featuring Disney Channel star Peyton List, Lauren Esposito and Daniel Needs, the film will screen at Event Cinemas next year, probably in the September holidays.