Kate Woods’ ‘Kangaroo’ gets the green light

Chris Barnes ('Brolga'), on whom 'Kangaroo' will be based.

Director Kate Woods is gearing up to shoot Kangaroo in Alice Springs and NSW mid-next year, with the film now financed.

The first project to be produced under Studiocanal’s local production arm, Cultivator Films Australia, Kangaroo was announced as being in development early last year.

It has since received production funding via Screen Australia, Screen Territory and Screen NSW via the Made in NSW fund. This includes $1.2 million towards the production from the Northern Territory Government through Screen Territory’s Production Attraction Incentive Program.

Written by Harry Cripps with additional writing from Melina Marchetta, the family comedy is inspired by Chris Barnes, aka Brolga, who is the founder of the Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs.

The plot follows a man who becomes stranded in an outback town after a car accident. There, he teams up with 11-year-old Indigenous girl Charlie, and the pair form an unlikely friendship working together to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned joeys, an endeavour that proves to be life-changing for both of them.

As IF has previously reported, Bunya Productions’ David Jowsey and Greer Simpkin and Brindle Films’ Rachel Clements and Trisha Morton-Thomas will produce, with Louise Smith and Marian Macgowan executive producers alongside Studiocanal’s Anna Marsh, Ron Halpern, Elizabeth Trotman and Marcus Gillezeau.

I am thrilled to be back in Australia working with Studiocanal and such prestigious producers as Bunya and Brindle to bring this story of literally the symbol of Australia to life,” said Woods.

“I am so excited by the cast and crew who are coming on board, and to be filming in such a beautiful and iconic part of our country as the Northern Territory.”

Casting is underway and announcements are expected in the early new year. The NSW portion of production is expected to employ 255 cast and crew, including post-production crew.

Eastern Arrernte emerging director Samantha Laughton will be a director’s attachment.

“Screen Territory is proud to support local stories for international audiences and the aligning of these incredible teams in Studiocanal, Brindle Films and Bunya Productions signifies the strong pull the Northern Territory’s unique locations and narratives have on producers and audiences,” said Screen Territory director Jennie Hughes.

Screen NSW head Kyas Hepworth added: “Screen NSW continues to champion and support local stories that will engage and delight audiences of all ages here at home and on the global stage – and Kangaroo is exactly this story.”

Studiocanal will handle the local distribution and international sales.

Cultivator Films Australia is headed by Trotman, Studiocanal ANZ CEO. Other projects on its slate included Helena!,  a biopic about the Polish-Australian-American cosmetics businesswoman, art collector and philanthropist Helena Rubinstein. Gracie Otto is attached to direct, with the project having received Screen Australia development funding.