While Foxtel’s Lambs of God may well represent the pinnacle of Sarah Lambert’s 20-year career, the screenwriter/producer’s workload and reputation are set to reach new heights over the next two years.
The prolific Lambert is juggling four high-profile international TV series and two other projects. If they all get up, she may well have to clone herself.
First off, she has written the pilot of Traces, an 8-part drama based on a true crime case in Italy that has been transplanted to Australia. An examination of a miscarriage of justice, it’s being developed as a co-production between RevLover Films’ Martha Coleman and Lauren Edwards and Porchlight Films’ Vincent Sheehan and Liz Watts.
Currently she is tackling the pilot for The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart (working title) for Made Up Stories’ Bruna Papandrea, Jodi Matterson and Steve Hutensky. Adapted from the Holly Ringland novel, the drama/mystery spans 30 years, revolving around a young girl whose violent childhood casts a dark shadow over her adult life.
After a family tragedy, 9-year-old Alice is raised by her grandmother on the language of Australian native flowers as a means of expressing things that are too hard to speak.
“Holly Ringland’s novel is about domestic violence and the inter-generational trauma that results from it, told in an extraordinary voice which is full of hope, wonder, resilience and looks at how we can heal,” says Lambert, who will serve as the showrunner on that production.
Also on her slate is a thriller based on a true story that happened in Australia in the 1960s for Ian Collie’s Easy Tiger and an un-named US production partner. In addition, she’s working on an original project that is close to her heart with a UK production company which will be announced in the coming months.
Lambert draws on the expertise of several writers to help workshop ideas and is a big believer in the collaboration of the writer’s room, recently working with Kirsty Fisher (Laid, The Family Law) and former Foxtel drama executive Kim Wilson (A Place to Call Home) on The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart. Wilson also worked on the development of Traces.
Directed by Jeffrey Walker and produced by Lingo Pictures’ Jason Stephens, Elisa Argenzio and Lambert, Lambs of God has been a “great calling card” which enabled her to create a world on a much larger canvas.
‘Lambs of God’ (Photo: Mark Rogers).
Marele Day’s book is a brilliant ‘out there’ novel,’ she says, but it’s rare for a screenwriter here to be encouraged to be bold and push the boundaries of storytelling in the way Foxtel and Stephens supported her with Lambs of God. Her scripts have been nominated for an AWGIE Award for telemovie or miniseries of up to four hours.
While she was writing the miniseries she saw Ann Dowd as the antagonist-turned-hero Patti Levin in HBO’s The Leftovers and figured she would be ideal for the role of the elderly nun Sister Margarita, not knowing whether she’d be available.
She sparked to the wildness in Jessica Barden’s character in Channel 4 series The End of the F***ing World as perfect for the role of Sister Carla.
When Essie Davis was suggested for Sister Iphigenia, she jumped at the idea, observing: “She is such an extraordinary chameleon and a powerhouse actress. She was very much in my head when I wrote the last two eps.”
Surveying her schedule, she says: “Everything I do these days I feel has to say something important or look at something we need to examine as a society. I’m excited by the shows out there that have a unique voice and are brave, and I want to be a part of that.
“The last couple of years have been pretty epic for me and it continues to be. As a freelance writer you develop so many different shows; sometimes they happen at the same time, which is wonderful and exhausting. I’m extremely grateful and very lucky that all the people I work with are people I love and trust.”