Helen Thomson, Darren Gilshenan gather for Madeleine Dyer’s ‘A Savage Christmas’

Madeleine Dyer, on set of 'A Savage Christmas' - (Image: Roaring Entertainment)

The festive spirit is still alive and well in Queensland, as production begins on Madeleine Dyer’s debut feature A Savage Christmas.

The dramatic comedy follows trans woman Davina Savage (Thea Raveneau) who, after years of estrangement, returns home for Christmas with her new boyfriend.

While she expects her transition to be the focus, it’s instead overshadowed by family secrets and lies which threaten not only their lives but another Christmas lunch.

Joining Raveneau, Max Jahufer, and Rekha Ryan in their feature debuts are Helen Thomson, Darren Gilshenan, David Roberts, Gary Sweet, Ryan Morgan, and Rachel Griffiths.

Dyer wrote the script alongside Jahufer and Daniel Mulvihill, who is producing with Ben McNeill via their newly formed venture Roaring Entertainment. Tracey Robertson, Jason Byrne, Jonathan Page, Michael Favelle, and Stephen Corvini serve as executive producers. 

Production is taking place across greater Brisbane with the support of the Queensland Government through Screen Queensland’s Screen Finance program and principal production investment from Screen Australia.

Behind the scenes of ‘A Savage Christmas’ in Brisbane.

Mulvihill and McNeill said the story has been developed over several years by a team of Queensland locals, and represented many of the personal stories and experiences of the film’s key creatives.

“This film serves as a talent escalator for many cast and crew stepping into new roles,” they said.

“Screen Queensland’s energetic and long-standing support of the project throughout development is valued greatly and has allowed us to foster the culturally and socially poignant themes running through the film.”

Screen Queensland’s chief creative officer Belinda Burns said the production was estimated to inject $1.2 million into the state economy and create approximately 76 jobs for cast and crew. 

A Savage Christmas is a Queensland production through and through — directed, written and produced by Queenslanders, and both filmed and set in the state,” she said.

“Last financial year, 85.5 per cent of Screen Queensland-supported projects were led by Queensland-based producers and creatives. We are proud to invest in local talent — our people are the key to Queensland’s reputation as a global filmmaking hub.  

“Congratulations to Roaring Entertainment on this debut production, and we wish the film every success for its end-of-year theatrical release.” 

Screen Australia head of content Grainne Brunsdon said the film blended off-beat humour while reflecting our nation’s diversity.  

“With a strong ensemble cast, this film weaves contemporary issues and themes of acceptance into a classic Christmas family fiasco, and it’s sure to bring the holiday spirit to audiences this year,” she said.