Warren Coleman, who co-directed George Miller’s 2006 animated Oscar-winning smash hit Happy Feet, is set to direct live-action family adventure feature Stripey.
The film — currently in development — follows a single-parent family of refugees from Kashmir, a long-thought-extinct Tasmanian Tiger and a colorful bunch of bush characters. It tells the story of what happens when they all collide.
Coleman, who co-wrote both Happy Feet and its sequel Happy Feet Two, wrote Stripey alongside Australian writer and comedian Steve Abbot (behind the popular radio and TV character The Sandman).
“What really got us into this story that we get coming back to was this simple idea about what would happen if some of the newest people in Australia crossed paths with one of the very oldest creatures we have, which isn’t even supposed to exist anymore,” Coleman tells , adding that, while supposedly extinct (the last official one died in 1936), there are frequently rumors of Tasmanian Tiger sightings in the Tasmanian bush. “So we thought what if this really did happen, and people who didn’t know found one and formed an attachment with one and discovered that what they actually had was an animal that everyone else in the world wanted.”
In Stripey, the family’s youngest boy, Usman, is grieving over the loss of his mother, but bonds with the very rare Tasmanian tiger pup.
“There’s a lot emotional stuff in there and a lot of soul-stirring that we were always looking for in Happy Feet and has been a banner for us on this one,” said Coleman. “But we just love the idea that seems very Australian about new people coming to a country that’s very old, and the drama that happens, and the comedy and the heart that comes out of that moment and that connection.”
While Stripey is going to be a live-action feature — and shot on location in Tasmania — the Tasmanian Tiger itself will be brought to life via a variety of VFX solutions.
Stripey is being executive produced by Ian Dawson for Sparky Pictures and Jim Tosney for Fuel Up Entertainment, who will be discussing the project with potential partners in Cannes and Los Angeles.
Dawson, CEO of Sparky Pictures and currently in pre-production on U.K.-set horror movie The Caged, was previously CEO of Icon Film Distribution and oversaw the release of films including Drive, The Nice Guys, The Babadook, It Follows and The Guest. His executive producer credits include Cargo, 6 Days, Inland and Swimming With Men.
Tosney of Fuel Up Entertainment is a veteran sales, distribution and content development producer, who worked extensively in television, film, event cinema and live theatre, creating and selling content independently and for Warner Media, Paramount Pictures, and 20th Century Fox. His television credits include Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Enterprise and The X-Files.
Casting on Sparkey will be overseen by Faith Martin (Strictly Ballroom, Peter Pan, Evil Dead). The team will also be working with Kashmiri filmmaker Muntaha Amin who will help ensure cultural authenticity and provide additional materials to the project. The film is scheduled to shoot in Sydney, Melbourne and Tasmania from January 2024.