Hugh Sheridan to write and direct Ballet School-set drama

Hugh Sheridan and Blake Northfield.

Back to the Rafters and Five Bedrooms star Hugh Sheridan plans to make his feature writing and directing debut on The Dance, a coming-of-age drama which follows a teenager who fulfills his dream of joining the Australian Ballet School.

Produced by Bronte Pictures’ Blake Northfield, the film will explore love, death, sexuality, drugs and loneliness set in the highly competitive world of theatre.

As a graduate of NIDA, VCA and the Australian Ballet School, Sheridan says he could have set the story within any of these schools. He chose the Ballet School because he believes dancers are the most underrated athletes and artists in Australia.

“Writing The Dance has been an extremely cathartic experience for me and it was ultimately COVID lockdown that allowed me the time to pen a story that I’d had in me for many years,” says the actor/musician whose credits include House Husbands, Packed to the Rafters, The Flip Side and horror anthology Dark Place.

“I hope this story speaks to all ages but particularly shines light on the immense pressure on young people in the arts and the sacrifices, determination and mental struggles they endure.

“I’m making this film for younger generations so they know they’re not alone, they will be OK and they are enough.”

Northfield was an actor when he first met Sheridan who had just finished hosting I Will Survive for Network 10. They became friends and Sheridan co-starred with Josh McConville in Escape and Evasion, the Storm Ashwood-directed feature drama which Northfield produced.

“Hugh has long been one of Australia’s biggest on-screen talents,” Blake says. “Now we get to put all of his on-set experience behind the camera.

“This film is a credit to his dedication to his craft, writing a stunning coming-of-age teenage drama that shows an insight into the cutthroat, dedicated competitive world of ballet dancers where only the best of the best shine.”

The producer aims to raise the budget from Bronte Pictures’ financial partners with state and federal support and to shoot the film in Adelaide and Melbourne in late 2021 or early 2022. It’s yet to be decided whether Sheridan will play a role.

Hugh said: “At first I was apprehensive when asked to direct the film but now I feel as though this is actually the moment I’ve been waiting on after all my experience on various sets and working with so many great writers and directors.”

Meanwhile writer-director Heath Davis has written the first draft of Blood Red Sky, a feature inspired by the Australian bushfire crisis.

The narrative will follow a motley crew of volunteer firefighters and courageous locals who must overcome their personal and political differences when a bushfire threatens their picturesque country town.

“The next step is continue researching and we are aiming to get him on the ground for face-to-face meetings in some smaller affected towns by the end of the year. It’s moving along at a nice pace,” Northfield says.