Griffith Film School alumnus Alice Addison has penned a critically-acclaimed remake of Picnic at Hanging Rock – re-imagining Joan Lindsay’s iconic Australian novel for a new generation on the small screen.
The $20 million, six-part series, whichhad its world premiere on Foxtel, will also be released in the US, UK, France and New Zealand.
The series stars British actress Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) and Aussie star Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black). It opened the prestigious ‘Berlinale Series’ of the Berlin International Film Festival earlier this year and also screened at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival.
Alice, who co-wrote the series with playwright Bea Christian, said she was a little daunted by the prospect of remaking Peter Weir’s iconic film for the small screen.
“I was a huge fan of the original film, and was initially resistant about tinkering with it,” she said.
“The film was very moody and atmospheric, but then I revisited the book and it was a revelation.
“There was so much juicy stuff that wasn’t in the film, and TV offers a bigger canvas to dig into each of the characters.
“It was an amazing opportunity to retell the story on screen from a female perspective.”
Alice said she had been astounded by the warm reception the film had received.
“I was nervous about how the series would be received – I felt a big responsibility to the source material, and to fans of the book and the original film,” she said.
“But I’ve been so thrilled with the reception its had – the critics have been kind, and its sold well overseas.”
Alice graduated with a Bachelor of Screen Production from the Queensland College of Art’s former campus at Morningside.
“I have such fond memories of my time there,” she said.
“We were given access to all of the gear, and encouraged to use it.
“I learnt a bit of everything at the QCA, and started to understand how the industry fitted together.
“There were 21 of us in the course, which made it special – I’m still close to a lot of my classmates, who have gone on to amazing things.”
Alice’s graduating class at the QCA included Kylie Washington, now head of the BBC’s production arm in Australia, Vancouver-based cinematographer Simon Chapman (Harrow, Glitch, The Nowhere Boys) and LA-based cinematographer Jason Hargreaves (The Butterfly Tree, Adele).
After graduating from the QCA, Alice worked as an assistant to renowned Australian producer Penny Chapman (Brides of Christ, The Slap). Penny became a mentor, encouraging Alice to generate her own work.
“I learned so much from Penny – how a project is developed, the production process, and how many people it takes to get these things off the ground,” she said.
“I managed to get some of my own projects up and running, and eventually I had so much writing work that I had to give up my day job!
“It was utterly terrifying becoming a freelance writer – it’s still terrifying!
“You are either incredibly busy, juggling several projects, or sitting around twiddling your thumbs.”
Her television credits include the ABC mini-series RAN: Remote Area Nurse and The Silence, which were nominated for several Australian Film Institute (AFI) and Australian Writer’s Guild (AWGIE) Awards and shortlisted for a Queensland Premier’s Literary Award.
She has also written for the big screen – adapting the screenplay for the lauded 2011 film, The Hunter, starring Willem Dafoe.
The project won her Best Film Script at the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards and nominations at the Australian Acacdemy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards (AACTA) and AWGIE Awards.
“It is cumulative – you build up writing credits, and suddenly the networks and film studios know your name and trust you to deliver,” she said.