John Sheedy to make feature debut with ‘H is for Happiness’

‘H is for Happiness’ location Manager Mike Montague (left) and director John Sheedy (right) in Albany. 

Theatre director John Sheedy is currently casting for his feature film directorial debut, H is for Happiness, due to shoot in Albany, WA later this year.

The film has been adapted from Barry Jonsberg’s children’s book ‘My Life As An Alphabet’ by writer and producer Lisa Hoppe. Set in a small coastal town, it follows Candice Phee, a 12-year-old girl with boundless optimism and a unique view of the world. The script was a top five finalist in the US-based 2017 ScreenCraft Comedy competition.

Julie Ryan (Hotel Mumbai, Red Dog) and Tenille Kennedy (Slam) will produce alongside Hoppe. Jonathan Page (The Babadook), Bryce Menzies (I Am Mother, Red Dog: True Blue) and Avrill Stark (The Deep) are the EPs.

Sheedy has previously turned his hand to screen directing with short Mrs McCutcheon, which won Best Australian Short at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) last year, was one of five finalists in MIPTV’s inaugural pitching competition for live action youth programming and won Short Film of the Year at last year Screen Producers Australia awards.

“I am thrilled to be returning to WA for my directorial debut. Having spent several years in Perth creating theatrical works for young people and families, it seems very fitting,” he said.

“I am equally delighted to have the opportunity to work with producers Julie Ryan of Cyan Films, Tenille Kennedy and screenwriter and producer Lisa Hoppe who has constructed a hilariously quirky and moving script that is sure to resonate with any child or family that feels different. I look forward to re-engaging in the assembly of local talented actors and creatives and spending time in Albany which is the perfect backdrop to bring this story to the screen.”

H is for Happiness has received major production investment from Screen Australia, and was lured to WA by Screenwest’s $16 million Regional Film Fund, which has also attracted productions such as ABC’s Mystery Road, Three Summers and Go Karts. It has also been financed with support from the MIFF Premiere Fund, Film Victoria and Soundfirm.

Producer Julie Ryan said: “I am delighted to be coming back to Western Australia after shooting two feature films, Red Dog and Satellite Boy in the north of the State nearly eight years ago. Lisa Hoppe and I also look forward to working with Perth-based producer Tenille Kennedy, and the community of Albany in the coming months. We’re excited to have the very talented John Sheedy bringing this funny and heart-warming story to the cinema screen.”

Screen Australia head of production Sally Caplan said: “Lisa Hoppe has delivered a charming script about family, friendship, and celebrating difference and we’re incredibly excited that the talented John Sheedy is on board to direct his first feature film. It’s fantastic to see a film with a strong young female protagonist being produced by an exciting group of female screen practitioners in Julie Ryan, Tenille Kennedy, and Avrill Stark, and I’m sure it will resonate with kids and adults alike.”