Island tale becomes hot Hollywood property
Category: Nim's Island News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: June 22, 2007 | Publication: The Age | Author: editors
Publication/Article Link:The Age
Wendy Orr is watching as her novel springs to screen life, writes Michelle Hamer.
DOUBLE Oscar winning actor Jodie Foster will bring the work of Mornington Peninsula children's author Wendy Orr to life in the Hollywood feature film Nim's Island.
Foster is set to star in the movie blockbuster, which will be filmed at Warner Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast, and on location in northern Queensland next month.
Orr's novel Nim's Island was optioned by the US production company Walden Media in 2003 after producer Paula Mazur borrowed the book from her local library in Santa Monica to read to her young son.
Mazur fell in love with the story and recognised its big-screen potential. Walden Media has previously produced films such as Narnia, Holes and this season's Bridge to Terabithia.
For Orr, a multi-award winning author, it has been a long journey from her quiet home in Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula to the bright lights and big budgets of the Hollywood movie world.
She has twice travelled to LA to meet the production team and has worked as a script consultant on the movie, which will also feature Little Miss Sunshine star Abigail Breslin and Gerard Butler of 300 fame.
Nim's Island is the story of a little girl who lives on a tropical island with her father, an iguana, a sea lion and a turtle. According to the Los Angeles Times, it will be the first movie with a "girl at the centre of a kids' action-adventure film with a blockbuster budget", believed to be millions of dollars.
Orr believes it is also the first time an Australian children's book has been turned into a Hollywood feature film.
She said the film created a buzz at Cannes this year, where it was described as a "hot property" and was the subject of a bidding war for international rights.
Nim's Island was published in 1999 by Allen & Unwin and has since been released in five countries, with more international releases planned to coincide with the movie, which will open in the US on April 25 next year.
But Orr says that despite the blockbuster budget, she won't be suddenly bathed in riches.
"I won't be getting a million dollars as most people think," she said. "But the payment will be more than I earn for the average book."
Orr says the most exciting part of the process has been "watching other people get so involved with my work, believing in it and loving something that I have created. It's a bit like winning a fantastic award."
Orr will travel to Queensland to visit the set during the 10 weeks of filming, but she's more excited by seeing the movie-making process than meeting the big-name stars.
"I'm sure it will be interesting, but I'm just not the sort to be star-struck," she said.
Orr, her husband, Tom, and Nim's Island illustrator Kerry Millard are also looking forward to being extras on the film.
Nim's Island has sold about 23,000 copies in Australia. Orr has written 30 children's books. Her novel Ark in the Park was voted Book of the Year in the Children's Book Council Australia awards in 1995.
Her latest book, a sequel to Nim's Island, titled Nim's Sea, (Allen & Unwin), will be launched by producer Paula Mazur in Queensland next month.
Nim's Island author Wendy Orr (with iguana) says being part of the filmmaking process is "like winning a fantastic award".
Photo: Angela Wylie