An award-winning Australian play is being groomed as a film and multimedia experience.
4 Dec 2012 - 4:26 PM  UPDATED 4 Dec 2012 - 4:26 PM

Veteran filmmaker Tom Jeffrey is developing a movie based on Lachlan Philpott's Australian play Silent Disco, part of an ambitious multimedia project.

Jeffrey bought the screen rights after the play premiered last year at Sydney's Griffin Theatre, sparking to what he describes as a “highly-charged, boy meets girl, girl betrays boy story” that taps into the iPod/iPhone world.

Set mostly in an inner-Sydney public school, the AWGIE-winning play focusses on a couple whose futures are in the balance: Tamara (Sophie Hensser), who's neglected by her parents, and Jasyn (Meyne Wyatt), an Aboriginal lad from a broken home.

“This is a fine play, a fine production, and probably one of the small stage highlights of the year,” said the Sydney Morning Herald reviewer Jason Blake.

Funded by Screen Australia, Philpott is writing the screenplay and Jeffrey is in discussions with potential directors. Also with Screen Australia's support, Jeffrey is working with Guy Gadney, director of The Digital Project Factory, who has created a transmedia project that extends the story beyond the movie, which Jeffrey, believes will break new ground in digital storytelling, immersing the audience in the characters and the filmmaking journey.

Silent Disco encapsulates the boredom, frustration and angst that prevail among youth, and the seeming futility of their lives. The only power they have over their lives is their playlists,” Jeffrey tells SBS Film.

“As well as being a compelling movie, Silent Disco is ideally suited for developing an online experience for its target audience. The worldwide web is a very good platform to create and build a fan base. The transmedia experience, built as an app, will keep the linear movie as its core experience. However at any point, the viewer will be able to follow the progress of each of the main characters, and any of the main themes, through a series of threaded video choices that act like multimedia diaries of these characters throughout the story.”

Gadney will design and direct the overall transmedia package and Jeffrey says the film's director may handle scene inserts, particularly those that involve the cast on the same locations as the movie. He will seek Screen Australia funding for the film and hopes to go into production in 2013.

Jeffrey has worked in the Australian film and TV industries for more than four decades. In 1975 he directed his first feature, David Williamson's The Removalists. He then co-produced and directed Weekend of Shadows, wrote, directed and co-produced The Odd Angry Shot, co-wrote and produced Fighting Back, and produced The Best of Friends and Going Sane.

From 1976 until 1981 he was chairman of the Australian Film and Television School, where he later served as head of training for five years. He was president of the Screen Producers Association of Australia and sat on the boards of NIDA and the Australian Children's Television Foundation.