Stan and Screenwest choose Holden Sheppard’s Invisible Boys for joint development initiative

Based on the award-winning book by novelist Holden Sheppard, Stan and Screenwest have announced that the television series Invisible Boys is the successful recipient of their joint development initiative.

Sheppard said it was a dream come true to hear the project now had the financial backing of both organisations, and he was heartened by their shared enthusiasm for the series.

‘I’m seriously so stoked to have the show in development with partners who are a perfect fit for it. They value Invisible Boys for everything it is – raw, tough and boundary-pushing – and I was really chuffed to hear their supportive words today about what they think this show can do,’ Sheppard said.

‘Thanks to this investment, we’re a huge step closer to bringing this story to the screen. I’m very excited by the prospect of seeing Western Australia – especially my hometown of Geraldton, and the Midwest – represented in a scripted TV show in such a real way.

‘Stories of growing up gay in the country rarely break into the mainstream, so this project has the potential to become something bold and visible for current and future generations of Australians to connect with and feel seen by.’

Like the book, the 10-episode scripted series follows Charlie, a hardcore rocker living in the coastal town of Geraldton, where homosexuality is invisible and so is he. After an encounter with a married man hits social media, Charlie is outed and suddenly everyone knows his secret – and he discovers he is not alone.

In a statement on the Screenwest website, producer Tania Chambers of Feisty Dame Productions said, ‘We want this series to be a bold and controversial work, one that speaks to audiences now, in a world where it is still not safe in many places to be a queer teenager … The struggles that can be felt around emerging sexuality are important to come out of the shadows and the special connections we make deserve to be celebrated. We intend the Invisible Boys series to do this.’

Producer, writer and director Nicholas Verso said he couldn’t think of a better home for the show than Stan. The series has kicked off development in Perth with a writing room comprised entirely of LGBTQIA+ identifying writers. Joining Verso are Declan Greene, Allan Clarke, AB Morrison and Leslie Hornung.

Stan’s Chief Content Officer, Cailah Scobie, said, ‘Invisible Boys promises to be a unique and challenging drama and we look forward to seeing the outcomes this remarkable creative team will bring to the project.’

Invisible Boys won the 2019 WA Premier’s Prize for an Emerging Writer, the 2019 Kathleen Mitchell Award and the 2018 City of Fremantle Hungerford Award. After being optioned for the screen, the project received initial development support from Screen Australia and Screenwest in 2020. In 2021, Invisible Boys was listed as one of Australia’s Top 50 Kids’ Books by Better Reading.

The book is available in all good bookstores and online. For more information about the series go to the Screenwest website.

Holden Sheppard will be appearing at a one-off in-conversation event to discuss his book and the latest TV series news as part of this year’s PrideFEST in Perth. He will join author Craig Silvey and moderator Monique Mulligan for a Stories on Stage event at the State Theatre Centre on Saturday 20 November. Tickets are on sale now.

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