True Spirit in living colour

Round-the-world sailor Jessica Watson's account of her solo trip around the world will soon be rendered on the big screen.

Photography by Village Roadshow Studios

23 August 2021


The 19-year-old Jessica Watson’s book “True Spirit”, published in 2010, will form the basis of a new movie about her odyssey.

The long-awaited screen adaptation of Jessica Watson’s record-breaking solo circumnavigation of the world aboard her 34-foot Sparkman & Stephens Ella’s Pink Lady, will be produced by Netflix in Queensland with backing from the Queensland Government via Screen Queensland’s Production Attraction Strategy.

Estimated to return more than $24 million to the state economy and create more than 300 jobs for Queensland cast, crew and extras, the movie will be filmed at Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast and various locations throughout South-East Queensland and Sydney.

Starring Australian Teagan Croft (Titans, The Osiris Child) as Jessica Watson, the film will follow the adventurer’s amazing 210-day journey, setting sail from Sydney on 18 October 2009 and charting the exhilaration and peril of Watson’s historic sailing odyssey.


Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Queensland was the natural home for True Spirit—the story of a true national hero who was born and bred in South-East Queensland.

“Back in 2009 and 2010 when Jessica was battling the high seas and never giving up, we all watched on—captivated and inspired by her bravery, her know-how and her tenacity.

“My Government is proud to have secured yet another screen production for Queensland, evidence that the production bonanza is gathering more momentum as word spreads about the multiple benefits of filming in our great state.

“Pandemic or no pandemic, we know that international production companies love making movies and television here—for the ease, the range of locations, the weather, our competitive incentives, and world-class talent and crews,” the Premier said.

True Spirit is the second feature film that Netflix chose Queensland for its production location following Escape from Spiderhead, starring Chris Hemsworth, which filmed last year at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre and on location in The Whitsundays, Jacobs Well, Arundel and Tallebudgera Valley on the Gold Coast.

Screen Queensland CEO Kylie Munnich said that Jessica’s story, retold for screen, will appeal widely, with classic themes of bravery and determination as her character battles the elements to make history and prove the sceptics wrong.

“Jessica’s story is one of courage, skill and resilience, against all odds and at times grave danger, and for that reason I believe True Spirit will strike a chord with audiences across Australia and the world.

“Screen Queensland is delighted to welcome Netflix back to Queensland for this epic movie about a well-loved Australian hero.

“Initially attracted to Queensland for our COVID-safe status, now producers are saying how much they want to return and make more projects here—for the locations, depth and skill of our crews, competitive incentives and all-round positive experience of working in Queensland,” Ms Munnich said.

On the Gold Coast currently, Academy Award-winner Ron Howard is directing Thirteen Lives—about the Thai soccer team cave rescue—and Amazon Original The Wilds (Season 2) is filming at Village Roadshow Studios, while later this year Matchbox Pictures’ Irreverent will film in Far North Queensland.

Universal Studios Group’s Joe Exotic has moved on to the lot at Screen Queensland Studios in Brisbane, and George Clooney and Julia Roberts will star in Ticket To Paradise filming in The Whitsundays, the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

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