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Accidents Happen

Promotional poster
Directed by Andrew Lancaster
Produced by Anthony Anderson
Written by Brian Carbee
Narrated by Tyler Coppin
Starring Geena Davis
Harrison Gilbertson
Sebastian Gregory
Harry Cook
Joel Tobeck
Cinematography Ben Nott
Editing by Roland Gallois
Distributed by Christal Films
Release date(s) 2009
Country Australia
United Kingdom
Language English

Accidents Happen is an upcoming British-Australian coming of age black comedy film directed by Andrew Lancaster and starring Geena Davis, Harrison Gilbertson, Sebastian Gregory, Harry Cook and Joel Tobeck. Written by Brian Carbee, based on his own childhood and adolescence, the story revolves around an accident-prone teenage boy and his family. The film was shot in Sydney, New South Wales over June–July 2008, and is scheduled for release in 2009.



Accident-prone 15-year-old Billy Conway (Harrison Gilbertson)is playing with a friend when he causes an almighty crash with a bowling ball and a moving car, and he is forced to face his family's history of misfortune.[1]



American-born screenwriter Brian Carbee wrote Accidents Happen based on his childhood in 1980s Connecticut, changing his own name to "Billy Conway".[6][7] He had previously performed in a one person show titled In Search of Mike, which director Andrew Lancaster saw and asked Carbee if he would adapt the show to a short film. Carbee subsequently wrote a novel which served as the basis for his Accidents Happen screenplay.[8] He developed the screenplay through the prestigious Aurora Script Workshop in Sydney, where producer Anthony Anderson had worked and collaborated on his 2004 film Somersault.[9] In 2004, the completed script was nominated for an Australian Inside Film Award for Best Unproduced Screenplay,[10] but it took a further three years to gather finances for the project. Anderson, Carbee and Lancaster successfully applied for funding from Screen Australia on two occasions; they were granted AU$18,000 in May 2003 to fund drafts of the script, and $50,000 in November 2007.[11] In September 2005, Anderson travelled to New York City with three other Australian producers to meet with investors at No Borders Co-Production Market, a division of the Independent Feature Project Market in which filmmakers attempt to secure financing for their projects.[12] The film was the first production from the Abacus Film Fund, co-founded by producer Heather Ogilvie and corporate advisers BG Capital Corporation.[6] British production company Bankside Films of London also assisted in raising finances and is handling all international sales of the film.[2] The filmmakers received a 40% rebate on all production costs from Screen Australia.[13] Davis was the only American actor to be cast, in spite of the story's American setting; the rest of the cast is Australian, with feigned American accents.[7]

"My dad and I drove around Ku-ring-gai scouting locations. St Ives was chosen as the ideal spot for its deciduous trees and big front yards. If you pan the camera one way you get Connecticut, if you pan it the other way you get St Ives. We just had to make sure the gum trees weren't in shot."
—Andrew Lancaster on St Ives' standing in for Connecticut[7]

Accidents Happen was originally intended to be filmed in Connecticut, where it is set, but production remained in Australia, where the script had been written, because finances were easier to raise than in the United States.[6][14] Filming was slated to begin in April 2008[14] but was delayed until June.[15] Lancaster said that he did "a huge amount of technical preparation" before filming began so that, on the set, he could focus his directing on the actors' performances since the cast was largely inexperienced.[8] Principal photography commenced in early June with scenes shot on a built set at Sydney's Fox Studios.[15] Most filming took place in and around Kuringgai, first on Gillian Pde in West Pymble for a week in late June and then Lincoln St, St Ives for 1–2 July.[16][17] Lincoln St residents complained about possible disruptions to Ku-ring-gai Council, starting a petition to have production moved elsewhere, and threatening to play bagpipes and wave lights around during filming if it went on as planned.[18] The council then offered a revised filming schedule, cutting filming down by two days and bringing each day's finishing time forward by an hour to 12.30 am, and the producers offered some residents a $500 payment to cover any inconveniences.[17] Filming of the story's integral car crash scene was relocated to another street after the discord.[17]


Select footage of Accidents Happen was screened to potential distributors at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival and was shown at the American Film Market in November 2008.[2] The final cut of the film had its world premiere on 23 April 2009 at the Tribeca Film Festival[19] and was screened in June 2009 at the Sydney Film Festival.[20] It was shown in October 2009 at the Branchage Jersey Film Festival,[21] the Cinéma des Antipodes festival[22] and the Sitges Film Festival.[23]


  1. ^ Bartyzel, Monika (13 June 2008). "Geena Davis Flick Gets More Cast". Cinematical. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Thomas, Archie (12 June 2008). "Quintet finds 'Accidents Happen'". Variety. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  3. ^ "Accidents Happen". Screen Australia. 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  4. ^ "HARRY COOK". Mark Morrissey & Associates. 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2008.  
  5. ^ Young, Matt (14 September 2009). "Not too big for her boots". Sydney Central. Retrieved 17 September 2009.  
  6. ^ a b c George, Sandy (19 December 2007). "US lilt no accident on set". The Australian.,25197,22945614-16947,00.html. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  7. ^ a b c Walton, Sophie (2 September 2008). "The changing face of St Ives". North Side. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  8. ^ a b "Tribeca '09 Interview: "Accidents Happen" Director Andrew Lancaster". IndieWire. 27 April 2009. Retrieved 29 April 2009.  
  9. ^ "AURORA SCRIPT WORKSHOP". New South Wales Film and Television Office. 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  10. ^ Australian Associated Press (11 November 2004). "IF Awards winners". The Age. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  11. ^ "Approvals Search: "Andrew Lancaster"". Screen Australia. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  12. ^ Film Victoria (4 August 2004). "Four feature producers to take their projects to New York's No Borders". Press release. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  13. ^ "Neighbourhood Watch: Across the ditch". Onfilm. May 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  14. ^ a b George, Sandy (14 December 2007). "Rachel Ward to direct first feature". The Australian.,25197,22920394-16947,00.html. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  15. ^ a b Murray, Elicia; Tovey, Josephine (5 June 2008). "Foul-mouthed mum hits spot". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  16. ^ Shelley, Maureen (26 June 2008). "Angry gripes or Hollywood hype?". The Daily Telegraph.,,23921440-5001030,00.html. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  17. ^ a b c Vallejo, Justin (26 June 2008). "Geena Davis ready to roll in Sydney". The Daily Telegraph.,22049,23921441-5006013,00.html. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  18. ^ "Angry residents promise lights - and action". The Daily Telegraph. 21 June 2008.,23599,23898498-421,00.html. Retrieved 25 October 2008.  
  19. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (9 March 2009). "Tribeca announces competition lineup". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 10 March 2009.  
  20. ^ Truman, Greb (15 May 2009). "Brand Down Under". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 May 2009.  
  21. ^ Cooper, Sarah (30 September 2009). "Branchage Jersey Film Festival unveils line-up". Screen Daily. Retrieved 12 October 2009.  
  22. ^ Boland, Michaela (12 October 2009). "Unlikely bookends at Cinema des Antipodes film festival". The Australian.,25197,26195068-16947,00.html. Retrieved 12 October 2009.  
  23. ^ Mayorga, Emilio (12 October 2009). "'Moon' eclipses rivals at Sitges". Variety. Retrieved 15 October 2009.  

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