The long journey to adapt Australian author Melina Marchetta’s 2006 young adult novel On the Jellicoe Road into a TV series looks like paying off.
Werner Film Productions’ Joanna Werner has teamed up with Germany’s ZDF Enterprises and Wild Sheep Content, the fledgling production outfit formed by Erik Barmack, Netflix’s former head of international originals, on the eight-part series.
Marchetta will write the pilot and is working on development with Samantha Strauss (Dance Academy, The End), Sarah Walker (The Secrets She Keeps, Wentworth) and Angela Betzien (Total Control, Secret City).
The mystery romance by the Looking for Alibrandi author follows 17-year-old Taylor Markham, who was abandoned by her mother at a roadside deli on the outskirts of Jellicoe when she was 11.
After her mentor and guardian Hannah vanishes she meets a mysterious hermit who provides a clue to her identity. This happens amid a territory war between the boarders at her school, kids from the local town and a group of cadets.
Screen Australia provided funding development to the project in 2013 when Rosemary Blight and Sue Taylor were attached as producers, with Kate Woods to direct.
Marchetta’s agent, RGM’s Jenn Naughton, introduced Werner to Barmack after he inquired about the screen rights to the novel.
Werner said the novel is “an enthralling, sophisticated, complex and gripping teen story which I can’t wait to see on the screen.”
Barmack added: “Young adult series have become truly global, and we are thrilled to be working on bringing this seminal Australian work to a global audience with Werner Film Productions and ZDF Enterprises.”
Currently Werner and Tom Hoffie are producing the Netflix-commissioned thriller Clickbait in Melbourne.