A surreal comedy that encapsulates “thousands of years of Buddhist philosophy”, Midnight in Byzantium concerns a boy who mysteriously wakes up in the titular country town with no recollection of his identity or how he got there. Locals say he is Mitchell Isaacs and blame a recent car accident for his amnesia. However, he quickly suspects that his life may be in danger and attempts to decipher his past to enable himself to escape.
Alicia Brown, who's producing Midnight in Byzantium along with Melanie Coombs and Mish Armstrong, says the film script changed her life. “I remember walking around London the afternoon after I read it with a completely new perspective on the world thinking 'Oh, now I get it: that's what life is about'. It's easy to get involved with a story that resonates that much with you,” she says.
Melanie Coombs met writer-director Cris Jones during his first year at VCA film school. They collaborated on the short film The Funk and have been developing the film for several years. When Optimism was created Coombs brought Jones and Midnight in Byzantium to the company.
“When we created Optimism, Mel brought Cris and Midnight in Byzantium to the company and they've been developing the film for years,” says Brown. She also mentions that the feature will include a major golf cart chase sequence. “Audiences are going to love the ride in general, but are also going to feel like they've experienced something significant at the same time.”
The film recently secured local acting veterans Miranda Otto, Sam Neill and rising star Xavier Samuel. “We are incredibly happy to bring together such a strong Australian cast on the project,” says Brown. “Cris Jones is such a special storyteller, too. I'm really excited to see what we can all create together.”
Midnight in Byzantium received development funding from Screen Australia and is set to shoot next year in Regional Victoria and Melbourne.
Pinnacle Films is handling local distribution.