Netflix readies Jessica Watson biopic

Sarah Spillane and Jessica Watson. 

Sarah Spillane is set to direct a biopic for Netflix based on the true story of Jessica Watson, who in 2009 at 16 years old became the youngest person to sail solo, non-stop and unassisted around the world.

Spillane (Around the Block, This Life) is writing the script, based on Watson’s memoir True Spirit, with Cathy Randall, and Watson will consult on the film.

The producers for the family film are Debra Martin Chase (Harriet, The Princess Diaries, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) for Martin Chase Productions and Andrew Fraser (Lion) of Sydney’s Sunstar Entertainment, with Shahen Mekertichian and Spillane executive producers.

During her time at sea, Watson navigated some of the world’s most challenging stretches of oceans and survived seven knockdowns.

Her experiences were documented in her self-filmed documentary, 210 Days, which was narrated by Sir Richard Branson. It too was produced by Sunstar Entertainment, which also represents Watson via its talent management arm. The company has been working on getting up a feature based on Watson’s story since as far back as 2012, with Spillane attached since 2015.

“I am honoured and excited to be charged with bringing Jessica’s extraordinary journey to screen,” Spillane said.

“What drew me to Jessica’s story is her relentless fight and determination to defy the odds and accomplish her dream in a world that is largely dominated by men, making her a source of inspiration for so many people, especially young women, across the globe.”

Fraser said: “True Spirit has been Sunstar’s passion project. We have waited a long time for the stars to align and for us to feel comfortable that the right ingredients were present to do justice to Jessica’s achievement. Our partnership with Netflix will ensure Jessica’s epic story is shared with a global audience, as it deserves to“.

Watson said: “It’s quite humbling to have Netflix bring my story to life. I hope that the film inspires people around the world to try sailing and to also pursue their own adventures. I’m thrilled that it will be directed by Sarah and supported by such a strong production team.”