Willem Dafoe, Sam Neill and Frances O'Connor will topline Daniel Nettheim's adaptation of Julia Leigh's psychological thriller "The Hunter," which began production on location on the southern Australian island of Tasmania this week.
The novel centers around the Tasmanian Tiger, the largest known modern carnivorous marsupial which become extinct early in the 20th century but has often been subject to conspiracy theories regarding its continued existence. The film will follow the story of "Martin, a mercenary sent from Europe by an anonymous biotech company to the Tasmanian wilderness on a dramatic hunt for the last Tasmanian tiger."
The Amazon synopsis for Leigh's novel further details the story, noting that "a mysterious man who is identified to the reader only as M assumes the identity of "Martin David, naturalist" and arrives at the filthy, disheveled house of depressed Lucy Armstrong, whose husband, Jarrah, a naturalist and bioethics expert, recently disappeared on the plateau. Lucy's home becomes the base for M's treks into the wilderness, ostensibly to study the habits of Tasmanian devils. In fact, and in secret, M works for a biotech company. His mission: to secure genetic material from what may be the world's last remaining thylacine, reportedly sighted on the plateau. M must hide his true occupation from Lucy and her lonely children, Sass and Bike, as well as from the National Parks researchers and the suspicious local townspeople."
Alice Addison, who adapted Leigh's novel, herself recently finished lensing on her own writing and directing debut with sex-drama "Sleeping Beauty." The sure-to-be controversial film stars Emily Browning -- after Mia Wasikowska dropped out -- who plays a university student who earns money by allowing herself to be heavily drugged then spending the night with men in controlled conditions.
"The Hunter" is being produced by Vincent Sheehan in association with Porchlight Films, with Oscar-winning 'Lord Of The Rings' trilogy DoP Andrew Lesnie performing cinematography duties. Morgana Davies (Cannes closer "The Tree"), Sullivan Stapleton ("Animal Kingdom"), Jacek Koman, Dan Wyllie, John Brumpton, Callan Mulvey as well as newcomer Finn Woodlock round out the cast.