Schepisi film begins Melbourne shoot

By Brendan Swift

Fred Schepisi has begun shooting his first feature film in Australia in more than a decade: an adaptation of Patrick White's acclaimed The Eye of the Storm.

It follows the collapse of Schepisi's war film Last Man in 2009 and marks the first time the director has shot in Australia since the Oscar-nominated Evil Angels, starring Meryl Streep, was released in 1988.

“It has been a while since I’ve filmed in Australia – but it’s been a matter of waiting for the right story to tell, with the right people," Schepisi said in a statement. "The script for The Eye of The Storm and the cast and crew are absolutely world class, so this is an incredibly exciting project to be making in this country and well worth the wait to work at home again."

The cast includes Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis, Charlotte Rampling, Alexandra Schepisi, Robyn Nevin, Colin Friels, John Gaden, and Helen Morse.

Fred Schepisi on the first day of shooting The Eye of the Storm in Melbourne

The film is set in Sydney's Centennial Park, where two nurses, a housekeeper and a solicitor attend to Elizabeth Hunter (Charlotte Rampling), as her expatriate son (Geoffrey Rush) and daughter (Judy Davis) convene at her deathbed. But, in dying, as in living, Mrs Hunter remains a powerful force on those who surround her. The novel was awarded Australia’s only ever Noble Prize for literature in 1973.

Schepisi has directed a range of classic films during his long career including The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith, Six Degrees of Separation and Last Orders. He is also attached to direct Ruby Entertainment's The Secret River.

The Eye of the Storm is being produced by Antony Waddington, Gregory Read and Schepisi; and executive produced by Jonathan Shteinman, Edward Simpson, Bob Marcs and James Vernon. Sally Ayre-Smith (The Black Balloon, The Kings of Mykonos: Wog Boy 2) is co-producer. The script was written by Judy Morris (Babe: Pig in the City, Happy Feet).

The film will be distributed by Transmission Films while LA-based The Little Film Company will handle worldwide sales, excluding Australasia, and will be representing in Cannes next month.

The Eye of the Storm was privately funded by Media Funds Management and Film Victoria.

The film is being predominately shot in Melbourne with further filming scheduled for Sydney and far north Queensland. It is expected to be released in 2011.