The Australian film will mark the debut of writer-director Nicholas Verso.
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15 Feb 2013 - 3:47 PM  UPDATED 15 Feb 2013 - 3:47 PM

At 19, Harrison Gilbertson has an enviable array of film credits. The teenager is attached to star in Boys in the Trees, an Australian drama which will mark the feature debut of writer-director Nicholas Verso.

Currently Harrison is on the Gold Coast filming My Mistress, the saga of an affair between a vulnerable teen and a French S&M mistress (Emmanuelle Béart), directed and co-written by Stephen Lance.

Boys in the Trees is likely to be the first feature from Mushroom Pictures, a joint venture formed in 2011 between music impresario Michael Gudinski and Morrissey Molloy Entertainment. It's due to shoot in Melbourne after Gilbertson wraps Scott Waugh's Need For Speed, a DreamWorks thriller adapted from a video game about a guy who races from New York to Los Angeles seeking to avenge the death of his best friend, which stars Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, Michael Keaton and Imogen Poots.

In Verso's film Gilbertson will play Corey, a teen skater who is unable to communicate with his widowed father. On Halloween night in 1997 he embarks on a surreal journey through memories, dreams and fears. The cast includes Neighbours alumni Toby Wallace as Corey's former childhood friend and now nemesis Jonah, and Justin Holborow as Jango. Corey is surprised to discover how much he still has in common with Jonah but just as their friendship appears rekindled, a tragic truth intervenes. The female lead is yet to be cast.

Verso has just completed the Screen Australia Springboard program designed to identify and support Australia's best new directors, where he made the short film The Last Time I Saw Richard, produced by Mushroom Pictures' head of production John Molloy.

Molloy will produce Boys in the Trees with Gudinski and Mark Morrissey as executive producers. Mushroom Pictures has retained the Australian distribution rights. “The film is in financing at the moment and will shoot late 2013/early 2014,” Molloy tells SBS Film. Gilbertson's credits include US horror movie Haunt with Jacki Weaver, and Oz films The Turning, Accidents Happen, Blessed and Beneath Hill 60.

Mushroom Pictures is also developing Violet Town, a Mark Joffe-directed drama starring Guy Pearce, Rosamund Pike and Bryan Brown, co-produced with Essential Media and Entertainment's Ian Collie. Adapted from Steven Carroll's novel The Art Of The Engine Driver, the 1957-set tale revolves around a couple who attend a neighbour's New Year's Eve party where buried secrets are revealed; it's scheduled to roll in early 2014.

Also on Mushroom's slate are The Fast Life And Sudden Death Of Michael McGurk, the chronicle of Sydney businessman Michael McGurk, who was executed outside his Sydney home in 2009, based on a book by Richard Vereker and Mark Abernethy; and Emily Tempest, which features a twentysomething sleuth in Central Australia, the offspring of an Aboriginal mother and a white geologist, based on the novels by Adrian Hyland.