Runt: Craig Silvey’s novel heads for the big screen

Jai Courtney, Celeste Barber and Deborah Mailman are among the cast for the forthcoming Australian film.

Craig Silvey’s best-selling novel Runt is being made into a feature film in Western Australia with an Australian cast including Jai Courtney, Celeste Barber, Deborah Mailman, Matt Day and Jack Thompson. 

The cast will also include nine-year-old Lily LaTorre, who plays the story’s hero Annie Shearer, and rescue dog Squid in the title role of Runt

See Pictures are beginning production on the ‘feel-good family dog movie’ with major production investment from Screen Australia, Screenwest and Lotterywest and the WA Regional Screen Fund. Also co-financing are the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF), a collective of West Australian private investors assembled by Birdbath, as well as Screen NSW and Spectrum Entertainment.

The live action feature is adapted for the screen by its Australian author Craig Silvey (Jasper Jones), to be directed by John Sheedy (H is for Happiness), and produced by Jamie Hilton (Breath, June Again).

The film’s international sales are being handled by STUDIOCANAL, Europe’s leader in production, distribution and international sales of feature films and series. STUDIOCANAL Australia and New Zealand will release locally.

Screen Australia’s Head of Content, Grainne Brunsdon said: ‘Supporting the talented team on Craig Silvey’s second feature film is incredibly exciting. A uniquely Australian story, but with universal charm, Runt’s transition to the big screen will be a captivating experience for fans of the novel and new audiences alike. I can’t wait to see this heart-warming tale of transformation, which takes our protagonists on a journey from underdogs to heroes.’

According to the producers: ‘Runt is a heartfelt and hilarious contemporary Australian family feature film, set in the country town of Upson Downs. It tells the story of eleven-year-old Annie Shearer and her best friend, an adopted stray dog called Runt, who try to save their family farm by competing in the Agility Course Grand Championships at the prestigious Krumpets Dog Show in London. Annie lives on the struggling sheep farm with her brother Max, parents Bryan and Susie, and Annie’s grandma Dolly.’

Silvey said: ‘I’m a parochial Western Australian storyteller, and I’m especially proud that we will be showcasing the landscapes, architecture, and community spirit of the Wheatbelt region through the town of Upson Downs.’

Runt will begin shooting in Western Australia, in Perth and the Wheatbelt town of York in November.

Paul Dalgarno is author of the novels A Country of Eternal Light (2023) and Poly (2020); the memoir And You May Find Yourself (2015); and the creative non-fiction book Prudish Nation (2023). He was formerly Deputy Editor of The Conversation and joined ScreenHub as Managing Editor in 2022. X: @pauldalgarno. Insta: @dalgarnowrites