Polly Staniford and Angie Fielder.

Aquarius Films and Dollhouse Pictures will jointly develop and produce The Geography of Friendship, a 6 x 1 hour limited series based on Sally Piper’s novel by the same name.

To be adapted by Giula Sandler, the story follows three female school friends in past and present timeframes. When a hike celebrating the end of school culminates in a violent confrontation, the trio go their separate ways and remain estranged until decades later when they reunite to retrace their steps, seeking closure, connection and redemption.

Piper’s novel was shortlisted for the 2019 Australian Book Industry Awards and published by University of Queensland Press and by Legend Press in the UK.

Aquarius’ Angie Fielder and Polly Staniford will produce, alongside Dollhouse’s Jessica Carrera with Rose Byrne executive producing. Gracie Otto is attached to direct, and writer Krew Boylan, Aquarius and Dollhouse will round out the development and production team with further attachments.

Dollhouse Pictures’ Shannon Murphy, Krew Boylan, Jessica Carrera, Rose Byrne and Gracie Otto.

“When we read Sally’s amazing novel The Geography of Friendship, we were immediately drawn to the subject matter – this book feeds directly into the conversation today around the way inequality and fear of violence shapes the everyday experience of women,” said Fielder and Staniford.

“The book offers up a terrifying dramatic premise as well as three vividly drawn female protagonists, and we imagine endless possibilities for adapting it for the screen. We are incredibly excited to be collaborating with exceptional team at Dollhouse Pictures. We have an enormous respect for their artistic vision and are looking forward to a very successful partnership. We are also thrilled to have the talented Giula Sandler adapt this sensational novel for the small screen.”

Dollhouse’s Jessica Carrera described the novel as provocative, arguing it reads like “Thelma & Louise journey for contemporary times.” 

“As it oscillates between past and present, what unravels from the depths of their friendship is a story about survival, shame and rage – how so often the people we are running away from are ourselves. The material has a ripe foundation to expand this story on and off screen through our collaboration with the Aquarius team. We are thrilled to be working alongside such a formidable group of women on a project that so strongly supports our ethos as a company.”

Byrne added: “I’m thrilled to champion a story with great potential and fascinating lead roles for two generations of women in front of the camera. Sally Piper’s story explores so many unspoken issues that need to be addressed in a wider sphere and we intend to delve into that more decisively.”

Aquarius’ upcoming projects include The Unusual Suspects for SBS and children’s series Parent Up for the ABC. Dollhouse Pictures recently wrapped production on Otto’s debut feature film, ensemble comedy Seriously Red, written by and starring Boylan, alongside Byrne.

No broadcast or streaming deal for The Geography of Friendship has been announced as yet.

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