Schepisi boards comic thriller

Fred Schepisi is attached to direct Andorra, an adaptation of American author Peter Cameron’s thriller/dark comic novel.

The protagonist is Alexander Fox, a 40-year-old Yank who ends up in the tiny nation of Andorra where he befriends an Australian couple who had moved there. Complications arise when Fox falls in love with the wife and a dead body is found floating in the harbour.

Jamie Bialkower’s Melbourne-based Jump Street Films optioned the novel in 2013 and he subsequently teamed up with Lizzette Atkins’ Unicorn Films, who produced Sue Brooks’ Looking for Grace. He wrote the screenplay with Cameron.

James Ivory and Natalie Miller are the executive producers. Miller’s Sharmill Films and Jump Street Films will distribute in Australia.

Bialkower tells IF that filming is due to start in Europe in the first half of next year, probably in either Italy or the Czech Republic. He plans to partner with a European producer, yet to be determined. The budget is $US15 million which the producers plan to raise via pre-sales and European subsidy.

They intend to cast an A-list American in the lead and high-profile Aussies to play the couple.

“We have wanted to work with Fred for some time,” he said. Their schedules have aligned since Schepisi opted not to direct The Olive Sisters (US-based Australian director Frank Lotito has taken the reins),  while remaining as an EP.

“We are thrilled that Fred has agreed to direct Andorra," Jamie said. “His great success across a range of literary adaptations – from David Hare to John Guare, Thomas Keneally to Patrick White, John le Carré to Graham Swift – together with James Ivory’s formidable reputation will ensure Peter Cameron’s novel is realised to its full potential.”

He is referring to Plenty, Six Degrees of Separation, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, The Eye of the Storm, The Russia House and Last Orders.

Cameron’s 2002 novel The City Of Your Final Destination was adapted into a 2009 film by Merchant Ivory.