Leanne Tonkes, Martin Sacks and Victoria Garrett.

Martin Sacks enjoyed working with director Victoria Garrett in her debut feature Don’t Tell so much that he was keen to collaborate with her again.

The actor had been mulling the idea of a film about a father and son relationship which is tested by an unforeseen tragedy, so he pitched the concept to Garrett early last year.

She immediately sparked to the idea and is now developing the project with Sacks, screenwriter John Ridley (Hungry Ghosts, Black Water: Abyss, Wentworth) and producer Leanne Tonkes.

Sacks will play the lead, the father of two teenage sons who live in a small country town. He’s an ordinary man on an ordinary day until he finds his life turned upside down by an indiscriminate tragedy.

Susie Porter (who co-starred in Don’t Tell and appeared with Sacks in The Second, the Stan-commissioned movie produced by Tonkes), Nathaniel Dean and Daniela Farinacci will play supporting roles.

For the key role of the 15-year-old son the producers are keen to find a fresh face. “Once we have a draft we will cast a net out far and wide for a 15-year-old boy, perhaps from the world of short films, who has the brooding and tender intensity of a Timothée Chalamet or a James Frecheville,” Tori tells IF.

“The film is about grief and loss, about strength and endurance, and how in the face of trauma we are so much stronger than we think.”

Garrett, whose recent credits include Secret Bridesmaids’ Business, Playing for Keeps and the online comedy The Drop Off, will direct and produce with Sacks and Tonkes.

“Marty and I had a truly brilliant collaborative experience on Don’t Tell,” she says. “We both share a love of simple, character driven, authentic stories about family, finding beauty in unexpected places and working with people we love.”

As the father of two teenage boys, Sacks had often wondered about how an unforeseen event could change lives, and how a father and son could survive tragedy.

He hopes the film will impart positives such as persistence and the the kindness, openness and beauty of everyday life.

The actor recently wrapped shooting director Justin McMillan’s debut feature Sweet River, a psychological thriller scripted by Marc Furmie and Eddie Baroo based on an original story by McMillan, produced by Ashley McLeod.

Australian-based English actress Lisa Kay (Silent Witness, Indian Summers), plays Hanna Montague, whose son Joey was abducted by a serial killer and is presumed dead.

Searching for his body, she moves in to a cottage on a sugar cane farm. Sacks and Geneviève Lemon play a couple who live in the neighbouring farmhouse and own the surrounding sugar cane fields.

Before that he had the pleasure of working with Bill Nighy in Canadian director Tim Brown’s Buckley’s Chance , which was shot in Broken Hill.

Newcomer Milan Burch plays Ridley, a young boy who is forced to move to the Australian outback to to live with his estranged grandfather Spencer (Nighy) after the death of his father.

He becomes lost, befriends a dingo excluded from its own pack and a strong bond is formed as the two try to make their way home.

Sacks plays the antagonist named Cooper, with Victoria Hill as Ridley’s mother and Kelton Pell as an Indigenous leader.

Of Nighy he says: “He’s a lovely, kind man, one of the finest actors I’ve worked with.”

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