Wolf Creek and Django Unchained’s John Jarratt has written and plans to star in an Aussie comedy Western.

The title, Passing Winds, epitomises the irreverent approach. That's the name of a cattle property owned by Jarratt’s character. Craig McLachlan has agreed to play the bad guy who aims to gain control of the land which is rich in untapped gold. Steve Bisley will play a bounty hunter.

Jarratt describes the tone as a cross between Blazing Saddles and Crocodile Dundee. He will produce the film with Kris Maric and Craig Kocinski, his partners in production company OZPIX Entertainment.

No director has yet been signed but Jarratt would love to hire someone of the calibre of Mel Gibson, having admired his work in the Richard Donner-directed Maverick opposite Jodie Foster– although he doubts Mel would be willing to spend six months in Oz working on the film. He’d like to go into production in September.

Last week Jarratt finished shooting StalkHer, a gritty black comedy produced by OZPIX, which marks his directing debut. He co-stars with Kaarin Fairfax, who played his younger sister in the1980 Ned Kelly miniseries The Last Outlaw. 

He likens the screenplay written by Maric to an Australian version of Misery meets Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Jarratt’s character breaks into Fairfax’s house with evil intent and the tables are turned numerous times.

Directing was a challenge logistically because Jarratt spends 90% of the film tied to a chair in the kitchen. To prepare, the cast rehearsed for two weeks before Christmas and DoP Jody Muston filmed one full rehearsal.  “I have a lot of trust in Jody,” he says. “She paints with light; she’s brilliant. We blocked the film like a play after workshopping it for more than a year.”

The film was shot in four weeks at the Village Roadshow Studios, with Fairfax directing when Jarratt was on camera. While he enjoyed the dual roles, he says, “If I direct again it probably won’t be a film in which I’m playing the lead. It was a bit schizophrenic.”

The executive producer is former Roadshow and Disney executive Alan Finney, who helped the filmmakers negotiate distribution deals. The Backlot Studios will handle theatrical bookings, with the producers paying for prints and advertising, using private investment. A September/October launch is planned.  Shock Media/Regency Entertainment will release on home entertainment and the international sales rep is UK-based Jinga Films.

Jarratt was keen to direct and star in a film which he could publicise, leveraging off Greg Mclean’s Wolf Creek 2, which Roadshow is launching on February 20.

He says the sequel is a road movie with a fair degree of humour until his serial killer character Mick Taylor does what the audience expects.

If it succeeds he thinks there will be two further instalments, shot back-to-back, before he calls it quits on Mick.


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