Shantae Barnes-Cowan, Tasma Walton, Mark Coles Smith and Ngaire Pigram are ‘Sweet As’

'Sweet As'. (Photo: Nic Duncan).

Shantae Barnes-Cowan leads the cast of Jub Clerc’s debut feature Sweet As, about to wrap a five week shoot in Port Hedland, Western Australia.

The young actor, who has had roles in Total Control, Operation Buffalo and the upcoming Wyrmwood: Apocalypse, plays 16-year-old Indigenous girl, Murra.

After a volatile fight with her mother, Murra is abandoned, but with intervention from her uncle, she ventures on a journey of self-discovery. 

Starring alongside the 2019 Casting Guild of Australia Rising Star are Tasma Walton, Mark Coles Smith and Ngaire Pigram.

A Nyul Nyul and Yawuru writer/director, Clerc penned the script with long-time collaborator Steve Rodgers, the dramaturge on her first play, ‘The Fever and the Fret’.

The film is partly based on her own experience growing up in the Pilbara and The Kimberley. It stems from a long-standing ambition between her and close friend, Arenamedia producer Liz Kearney, to create a feature together.

The duo have previously collaborated on a variety of work, from co-ordinating Screenwest’s Deadly Yarns initiative, and shooting The Turning segment Abbreviation.

Clerc said: “This has been such a labour of love over many years, so to see it all come to fruition with the wonderful support of both state and federal agencies and other partners is a dream come true. With an exciting cast and stellar crew Sweet As has indeed been sweet as and a joyous transition for me stepping into directing my first feature film.” 

Louise Gough is the script editor, and Robert Connolly executive producer.

Sweet As has been supported by Screen Australia’s First Nations Department, Screenwest, Lotterywest, the Western Australian Regional Film Fund, MIFF Premiere Fund, Soundfirm and Film Victoria. 

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said: “We are thrilled to support Jub to take this next step in her career with her first feature film. We’re excited to see her bring an incredible story inspired by her own experiences to the screen and not to mention, showcase the stunning backdrop of the Pilbara.” 

Clerc is also working with Truant Pictures to develop short film Storytime, a supernatural thriller, into a feature and is the writer’s room for a number of other projects.

Connolly’s Cinemaplus will handle ANZ distribution, while LevelK and Maze Film Sales are handling international sales.