ACT News

Multimillion-dollar political film project to be shot in Canberra

A multimillion-dollar six-part fictional mini-series shot in Canberra, and peeling back the capital's layers of power, is now in the development stage.

Based on The Mandarin Code and The Marmalade Files books by journalists Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann, the mini-series is in the hands of production company Matchbox Pictures, known for its work on The Slap and The Straits.

A statement from Foxtel confirmed it would be working with Matchbox Pictures with funding support from Screen Australia. Prime Minister Tony Abbott was expected to make the announcement while launching the book at Parliament House 10.30am Wednesday.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said it would be fantastic for Canberra.

"There's nothing bad about this, it's all great," Ms Gallagher said.

"For anyone who loves the city it will be wonderful to watch. 

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"Just the exposure that [Canberra] will get through Screen Australia.

"What we all love about the city is going to be projected as part of this wonderful story by two local authors and respected journalists."

Pene Lowe, owner of Hansel and Gretel cafe at Phillip featured in two key scenes in The Mandarin Code, was thrilled about the news and about her shop being included in the fictional storyline.

"We need to put up a little sign saying 'spies corner'," Ms Lowe said. 

She bought the store with partner Geoff Kimpton from the Obermeder family a year ago and in the book, which even outlines some of the cafe's Canberra history, a journalist meets a high-ranking spy at the store over coffee.

"I think it's wonderful - fancy plucking out little old Hansel and Gretel.

"I hope (the mini-series makers) get in touch with us."

Co-author Chris Uhlmann said there had already been a fairly intensive scriptwriting process involving half a dozen writers.

"Matchbox has been very excited about the idea of turning Canberra into a character," Uhlmann said. 

"Maybe by July 2015 we'll be shooting."

To get the vibe of the books and what a future mini-series may look like, readers can watch Harper Collins' trailer for The Mandarin Code.

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