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.
Runt. Image is a young girl lying on a deck against an ottoman, with a book in her hands, but looking up at a grey haired dog above her standing on the ottoman. She is wearing a yellow top, pink dress and brown Blundstone boots.

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 is 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 has been adapted for the screen by its Australian author Craig Silvey (Jasper Jones) and will 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 11-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 says: ‘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 writes novels: A Country of Eternal Light (2023) and Poly (2020); memoir: And You May Find Yourself (2015); and creative non-fiction: Prudish Nation (2023). He was formerly Deputy Editor of The Conversation and joined ScreenHub as Managing Editor in 2022. Twitter: @pauldalgarno. Insta: @narrativefriction