Ryan Corr to lead family film Kangaroo, in production in NT

Cameras are rolling on the 'uplifting family comedy' inspired by the true story of a kangaroo sanctuary in Alice Springs.
Kangaroo in production

Filming has begun in Alice Springs on Kangaroo, the first feature film for StudioCanal’s Australian production arm, Cultivator Films Australia.

Kangaroo is described as ‘An uplifting family comedy set in the Australian Outback and bouncing with adorable joeys’ and is inspired by the story of Chris Barns, aka ‘Brolga’, the founder of the Kangaroo Sanctuary in Alice Springs.

The story follows ex-TV personality Chris Masterman, who becomes stranded in an Outback town after a car accident on his way to Broome. There, he teams up with 11-year-old Indigenous girl Charlie. The pair form an unlikely friendship and work together to rescue and rehabilitate orphaned joeys in the remote but stunning Outback community. ‘An endeavour that proves to be life-changing for them both.’

The film stars Ryan Corr (Holding the Man) in the lead role, alongside newcomer Lily Whitely as the 11-year-old girl.

The ensemble cast includes Deborah Mailman, Wayne Blair, Trisha Morton-Thomas, Rachel House, Brooke Satchwell, Ernie Dingo, Genevieve Lemon, Clarence Ryan, Rarriwuy Hick, Roy Billing, Rick Donald, and Emily Taheny. Bondi Lifeguard Ryan Clark (Bondi Rescue) and TV presenter Grant Denyer will also appear.

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Rounding out the cast, according to the media release, is ‘the adorable mob of kangaroo joeys, currently in the care of the Alice Springs Kangaroo Sanctuary, who will make their feature film debut in Kangaroo!’

The film is produced by Cultivator Films Australia, in partnership with Bunya Productions and Brindle Films. It is written by Harry Cripps (The Dry, Penguin Bloom) with additional writing from Melina Marchetta (Looking for Alibrandi) and additional material from Danielle MacLean & Peta-Lee Cole-Manolis. 

Kate Woods (Looking For Alibrandi) is the director, and this project marks her return to Australia after working on US series including The Umbrella Academy and The Good Lord Bird.

The film is being shot by DOP Kieran Fowler NZCS ACS, with Production Design by Sam Hobbs and Costume Design by Edie Kurzer. Editor is Chris Plummer and Casting is by Anousha Zarkesh. Cultural Liaison is Warren H Williams with Cultural Advisors Benedict Stevens, Marie Ellis and Williams. 

The producers of Kangaroo are David Jowsey, Greer Simpkin and Angela Littlejohn for Bunya Productions (Sweet Country, Limbo, Mystery Road), and Rachel Clements and Trisha Morton-Thomas for Brindle Films (MaveriXFinke: There and Back, 8MMM Aboriginal Radio). Louise Smith and Marian McGowan serve as executive producers alongside StudioCanal’s Anna Marsh, Ron Halpern, Elizabeth Trotman and Marcus Gillezeau. 

Kangaroo’s producers said: ‘Bunya and Brindle are thrilled to be here on beautiful Arrernte country, with director Kate Woods and our extraordinary cast and crew, to bring this film to life. Kangaroo is such a distinctly Australian story, and we are so excited to have the wonderful Ryan Corr leading this cast, and to be introducing talented young Lily Whiteley to a global audience. Thanks to all of our partners in STUDIOCANAL, Screen Australia, Screen Territory and Screen NSW in backing this truly special production.’

‘The producers would also like to acknowledge the remarkable Chris ‘Brolga’ Barns and his Kangaroo Sanctuary which cares for orphaned and injured joeys until they are old enough and strong enough to return to their mob in the wild. Brolga’s story inspired our film, and we welcome him and his wife Tahnee to the crew, along with their loveable rescue joeys, currently in the Sanctuary’s care. Their outstanding work in wildlife rehabilitation is an inspiration to us all.’

Kangaroo has received major production investment from Screen Australia in association with Screen Territory, with support from Screen NSW’s Made in NSW Fund.

Set and filmed on location in the Australian Red Centre town of Alice Springs, on Arrernte Country, where the real Kangaroo Sanctuary is based, the film will also shoot at Sydney’s Bondi Beach on the traditional land and waters of the Bidjigal, Birrabirragal and Gadigal Peoples.

Production Credit: KANGAROO is a Cultivator Films Australia production in partnership with Bunya Productions and Brindle Films. Major production investment from Screen Australia in association with Screen Territory, with support from Screen NSW’s Made in NSW Fund. Developed by STUDIOCANAL Australia and Screen Australia. Local distribution and international sales by STUDIOCANAL.