On the Hippie Trail with Lonely Planet’s Founders
The journey that spawned publishing empire, Lonely Planet founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler’s trek from London to Australia via the hippy trail in 1972, has taken the first step on a new odyssey – towards the big screen with 27-year-old New Zealander Fergus Grady optioning for the couple’s story with a view to making what he hopes will be “a travel road movie romance set in the 1970s”.
Grady, a fledgling director based in Melbourne whose day job is in the acquisitions department of independent distributor Umbrella Entertainment, plans to produce the film.
To write and direct he is looking to attract more experienced names. ”I’m looking at a writer who had experience of the 1970s,” he says. “We’ve approached a hit list of writers in the UK and Australia; because of Tony’s upbringing and the way he sees the world it needs to encapsulate that.”
Grady says the film he envisages will be about “the characters behind the company, and the journey they took”. English-born Tony Wheeler will act as a consultant and producer.
Grady’s take, which he anticipates will be budgeted around $6 million, will include settings such as Kabul, Bali and the famous Freak Street in Kathmandu.
“It’s ambitious and will be years of work,” he says. But if it comes off, it promises to be quite a trip.
Original article by Karl Quinn, The Age, March 19, 2014.