IT WAS the crime that changed the Coast forever and now the story behind Daniel Morcombe's disappearance is set to be taken to the big screen.
After thousands of residents rallied around Bruce and Denise Morcombe and their family as they successfully sought first the return of their son and then justice for his murder, the Coast again has the chance to play a role in the next chapter of the Daniel Morcombe story.
His legacy is set to be immortalised in a feature film 'Where is Daniel?', with legendary cinematographer Dean Cundey - of Back to the Future and Jurassic Park fame - teaming up with director Peter Cousens and the Morcombe family to tell the story of their fight for answers.
A crowd funding campaign is underway to help fast-track the film, which has a second-draft script finished and is close to being production-ready.
The goal is to secure at least $300,000 in funding to help progress the film to a stage where investors and casting can be sought, with the goal to have shooting start by the first half of 2017.
Surreal was how Bruce described reading the script.
"It will be sensitively done and in the right way, that tells Daniel's story," he said.
Mr Cousens said it was also an opportunity to show future film executives the project would be a success, with a groundswell of public support for the film sure to draw attention from investors.
He said the film was set after Daniel's abduction and focused on the search for answers.
"It's very much about this search for truth and justice and a couple of particular members of the police force," Mr Cousens said.
He said it was exciting to be able to tell parts of the story which he felt may not have been fully understood or made public.
"They've (Bruce and Denise) been really brave and we've been really sensitive," the experienced actor/director said.
"It gives them a bit of an opportunity to distance themselves a bit as well.
"Hopefully they'll (Bruce and Denise) go and see this story and they'll think those people are really cool. If we can get this film to happen... all good things will come from it."
For those who donate to the film, there are chances to get something in return.
From tickets to the screening to their name in the credits, Bruce and Denise said they wanted to give the community the chance to have some ownership of the film, after all the support they'd shown the family and the Daniel Morcombe Foundation since that fateful day, December 7, 2003.
"We think the story belongs on the Sunshine Coast," Bruce said of the plans to shoot the movie in the region.
"It gives some ownership to the local community, people that have supported us and the foundation for the best part of a decade."
Bruce said the funding would also help unlock some grants the team could access to further progress the film.
And as for who Bruce had lined up to play him, he joked it would have to be "someone terribly out of shape".
Denise said the past 18 months spent alongside Mr Cousens and the script produced had been an eye opener, giving her a different perspective on what they'd been through and the community's view of the Morcombe family.
She said they'd been adamant the film had to have substance and dialogue, rejecting sex scenes, gunfights and other standard Hollywood fare to hopefully deliver a film with plenty of heart.
Mr Cousens said the film would centre around Bruce and Denise and their fight for justice as well as the police work undertaken by a young detective who helped break the case.
He said the film would immortalise Daniel's story while sharing the child protection message.
Bruce said the film would "tear at the heart strings", engaging audiences and helping drive home an underlying thread of the importance of constant vigilance when it came to child protection.
For Mr Cousens, the next steps involved sharing the script with actors and casting agents, distributors and investors, before progressing to a third draft and shooting script.
The process has taken 18 months to-date and he hoped if all went well to have the film shot and ready for release by late-2017.
He said the weather, rain in particular, would also play a role in the film.
The inquest into Daniel's abduction coincided with significant flooding events in the south-east.
Mr Cousens said Denise felt a strong connection with rain events, sensing it was Daniel speaking with her, as often many milestones or events in honour of Daniel brought rain with them.
"We're using the flooding as a bit of a backdrop," he said.
To help support the movie, head to: whereisdanielmovie.com
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