Hugo Weaving and Phoenix Raei hear the crow of Mark Leonard Winter’s ‘The Rooster’

Phoenix Raei and Hugo Weaving in 'The Rooster'. (Image: Sarah Enticknap)

Hugo Weaving and Phoenix Raei lead the cast of a new mystery drama from actor Mark Leonard Winter that has wrapped principal photography in central Victoria.

Written and directed by Winter, The Rooster follows small-town cop Dan (Raei), whose oldest friend is found buried in a shallow grave.

Dan seeks answers from a volatile hermit (Weaving), who was the last person to see his friend alive. 

Joining Weaving and Raei in the cast are Helen Thomson, Rhys Mitchell, Bert La Bonte, John Waters, Camilla Ah Kin, Robert Menzies, and Deirdre Rubenstein. 

Producing Winter’s feature directorial debut is fellow actor Geraldine Hakewill and MahVeen Shahraki for the latter’s company Thousand Mile Productions. 

Executive producers include Susie Montague-Delaney, Patrick James, and Michael Kantor. 

Also contributing are editor Cameron Ford, DOP Craig Barden, and post-production specialist Marcus Hopton Smith.

Filming on the low-budget feature took place in the Hepburn Shire region across the four weeks to June 10.

Rooster will be distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Jonathan Page for Bonsai Films.

Hakewill told IF Winter had begun writing the script at the end of 2019, with the project benefitting from early input from collaborators such as Weaving, with whom the director had acted alongside in Healing and The Dressmaker.

“Hugo Weaving was attached very early on, read countless drafts and gave lots of feedback, so we were lucky we had him, as well as lots of great advice from other industry professionals that we’ve all worked with before,” she said.

“MahVeen came on pretty early as well, as was Cameron Ford, Craig Barden, and Marcus Hopton Smith.

“We managed to do a proof of concept as a team to explore the world of the film and start to find the tone.”

Raei was among the later additions to the production, with the Clickbait star cast after Winter decided against taking on the main role in addition to writing and directing.

The filmmaker paid tribute to the “most extraordinary cast and crew” for coming together on “something born of isolation”.

The Rooster was written as an offering exploring the strange and lonely place a mental health crisis can take you,” he said.

“Together we have infused so much warmth, humour and emotional generosity into the material.

“It has been, and continues to be, a true joy in collaborating with my team to create something very special.”

The producers are hoping for a festival release next year, followed by a theatrical release soon after.