Netflix’s Jessica Watson biopic to film in Queensland

Queensland is set to host filming of Netflix’s upcoming adaptation documenting Jessica Watson’s remarkable journey in sailing unassisted around the world at the age of 16.

Queensland is set to host filming of Netflix’s upcoming adaptation of True Spirit, documenting Jessica Watson’s remarkable journey in sailing unassisted around the world at the age of 16.

True Spirit stars Australian actress Teagan Croft (Titans, The Osiris Child) as Watson, following the adventurer’s 210-day journey that began from Sydney on 18 October 2009. Watson’s brave voyage was recognised with several accolades, most notably including Young Australian of the Year in 2011, and an Order of Australia Medal in 2012.

Produced by Netflix with backing from the Queensland Government via Screen Queensland’s Production Attraction Strategy, True Spirit will film at Gold Coast’s Village Roadshow Studios and various locations throughout South East Queensland and Sydney. The production is expected to generate $24 million towards Queensland’s economy in addition to creating more than 300 jobs for Queensland cast, crew and extras.

True Spirit marks the second feature film Netflix has used Queensland for following the Chris Hemsworth-led Escape From Spiderhead, filmed last year throughout various Queensland locations and due to release later this year.

Queensland is currently hosting multiple screen productions, with several more to follow, including Academy Award-winner Ron Howard directing Thirteen Lives–a film about the Thai soccer team cave rescue–on the Gold Coast, and the second season of Amazon Original The Wilds filming at Village Roadshow Studios, while Matchbox Pictures’ Irreverent will film in Far North Queensland later this year. Additionally, George Clooney and Julia Roberts will star in Ticket To Paradise filming in The Whitsundays, the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

Read: Screen Queensland polishing up the go button after lockdown

Screen Queensland CEO Kylie Munnich described True Spirit as a story well suited to the screen format, and one that will resonate widely with viewers.

‘Jessica’s story is one of courage, skill and resilience, against all odds and at times grave danger, and for that reason I believe True Spirit will strike a chord with audiences across Australia and the world,’ Munnich said.

Munnich also welcomed Netflix’s continued support of the Queensland screen industry, with True Spirit being another production secured with assistance from the Production Attraction Strategy, after ABC crime series Troppo’s Queensland filming was announced last month.

‘Initially attracted to Queensland for our COVID-safe status, now producers are saying how much they want to return and make more projects here–for the locations, depth and skill of our crews, competitive incentives and all-round positive experience of working in Queensland,’ Munnich added.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was natural for True Spirit to be filmed in the state, considering Watson is a South East Queensland local.

‘Back in 2009 and 2010 when Jessica was battling the high seas and never giving up, we all watched on–captivated and inspired by her bravery, her know-how and her tenacity,’ Palaszczuk said.

‘Pandemic or no pandemic, we know that international production companies love making movies and television here–for the ease, the range of locations, the weather, our competitive incentives, and world-class talent and crews.’

Chris Button
About the Author
Chris Button is an award-nominated writer for Screenhub based in Adelaide, who specialises in videogames and technology. His words have appeared on Junkee, GameSpot, Byteside and plenty more. He loves all things screen-related, sport, and small fluffy animals.   Chris also uses Twitter more than he probably should.