A Curtin University screenwriting teacher and a former Curtin student will achieve their big-screen dreams thanks to a $750,000 grant from the State Government.
Writer-director Zoe Pepper and producer Cody Greenwood have been awarded the West Coast Visions 2022 production grant to produce their debut feature film Birthright.
It’s the culmination of the last eight years of Pepper’s life after making the transition from stage to screen.
“It was a really amazing feeling, it’s a very big deal in terms of my career.
“I spent the first part of my career directing theatre, and then really the last eight years have been working towards this so it’s a great feeling. It’ll make a huge difference.
“It wouldn’t really be possible to get Birthright to the big screen without this, certainly not with the production values that we’ll have now. It changes everything, being able to direct my first feature film at a really professional level.”
Pepper said she had been working on the script for the last two years, and while the dark comedy, in which a married couple are forced to move back in with their parents, doesn’t necessarily draw on her own experience, it’s certainly closer to her heart.
“My husband and I were looking to buy a house so we had a laser focus on the state of the property market.
“The story is about a couple in their late 30s who are forced to move back in with their baby boomer parents, and over the course of writing it, my two of my sisters had extended periods of staying at my parents’ house, and we’ve seen it happen with a bunch of family friends as well.
“Really, it’s a little microcosm, it can be a story about family in this contained, hot-house environment where you have all the family drama playing out among these two couples.
“It’s a good metaphor for a bigger problem that’s happening in society in the inequality between the baby boomers and millennials.
“It’s a dark comedy but we went pretty dark with it, bordering on horror.
“My sisters didn’t have this at all, but I think being forced to move back in with your parents creates unwanted feelings in both parties, the younger couple wondering what they’ve done wrong to land in this situation and the parents wondering where they’ve gone wrong to have their children boomerang back in with them.
“Given the housing market at the moment it’s really relevant.”
Greenwood said her connection with Pepper began in 2019.
“In 2019 I produced Zoe’s short film Mystic Pines and in the same year, Zoe and I began collaborating on feature film scripts,” she said.
“Zoe and I were then selected as one of 13 international teams to take part in the inaugural Attagurl film lab.
“The lab was dedicated to creating production distribution pathways for feature films.
“Zoe approached me later last year with the Birthright idea and honestly, I thought it was the most exciting idea I’d heard in a long time.
“Now we’ve secured the grant, we’ll work to confirm our remaining investors and then get started.”
Pepper said production would begin in mid-2023, with a festival run seeming likely for 2024.