Blossom Films will go into production on The Last Anniversary for Binge next month, producers Nicole Kidman and Per Saari told SXSW Sydney today.
Based on a novel by Liane Moriarty, Kidman promised the series is “an Australian project with Australian accents for the world”.
While it is yet to be officially announced, production will start November 13. John Polson will direct, with Made Up Stories to produce alongside Blossom. A profile of Made Up Stories producer Jodi Matterson in the Sydney Morning Herald on the weekend also suggests that editor Deborah Peart is attached.
At SXSW, Kidman paid tribute to the late Brian Walsh, who she said fought fiercely to bring the show to the Foxtel Group.
“This is his project,” she said.
“He was watching over it. He wanted it. He wanted Binge and Foxtel to have it, and he fought like crazy to get it. And it’s devastating that he’s not here, but maybe he is.
“Brian’s been a huge part of my life through my whole career and to be able to just still continue his legacy is is fantastic. So, Brian Walsh, we miss you and we love you.”
Moriarty’s The Last Anniversary follows Sophie, who unexpectedly inherits the house of an aunt of an ex-boyfriend on Scribbly Gum Island, home of the famously unsolved Munro Baby mystery.
It is the third project based on a Moriarty book that Blossom Films has worked on, the others being Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers. Kidman said the Sydney author had become a great friend, and said her books were cinematic in their depiction of characters.
“She’s the same age, she’s got kids, She’s gone through similar things at different times. I think we’re just simpatico, simpatica. It was just one of those things where you go, ‘Wow, I really like this person, and they happen to be incredibly talented.’ But primarily, I just really like her, whether we ever work together again or not, I would still have her in my life.”
Kidman and Saari appeared in front of 2,500 people at the International Convention Centre, interviewed by Nine journalist Peter Overton. The conversation took place under obvious parameters, given Kidman was unable to discuss or name any projects she has acted in due to the SAG-AFTRA strike.
Asked why she wanted to start a production banner – she and Saari started Blossom back in 2010 – Kidman said she was spontaneous and ready to try things despite the pressure of having a high profile.
“I’m willing to fail. And I’ve failed many times. But then I get back up again,” she said.
“I push on through and and just try things. You can always talk yourself out of doing something. It’s easy to find all the reasons why not to do it and how it’s not going to work, ‘all these things are going to go wrong’. It’s much easier just to go, ‘Yes, let’s go’ and then work it all out later.”
Kidman said at the heart of Blossom was supporting writers and filmmakers, particularly exciting new talent. For instance, after seeing The Farewell, Kidman said she chased director Lulu Wang “relentlessly” to create and shoot its Amazon series The Expats, based on a novel by Janice Y. K. Lee. Similarly, she said she loved being able to give Mimi Cave her biggest break yet in Holland, Michigan.
“I’m very excited when you find people who are who are going to be the next ‘greats’ out there,” she said.
Kidman also discussed working with Karyn Kusama, who had told her how her career had stalled.
“She was over 45 and she was like, ‘I’m stuck. No one will take a risk on me now, and I’m sort of done.’ And I’m like, ‘No, you’re not. I’ll go to bat for you.’ And we went into the gutters of LA and made a very, very low budget film. And she’s now had massive success with Yellowjackets and she’s got a huge career,” she said.
“She’d done Girlfight when she was really young, which is a great film, but then she’d had some failures, or what were perceived as failures, and suddenly, it was like, ‘Nup, you’re over’. And I don’t like that because I’ve actually been in that position where people have gone, ‘Oh, you’ve had some failures, you’re over’. And it’s like, ‘Oh, really? You’re telling me that? No way, give me another chance.’
“You have to be able to fail. And unfortunately right now it’s so cutthroat and the judgement on people is so severe, so quickly, that kind of gets lost along the way. And I can’t stand that.”
Kidman noted that in Blossom’s journey so far, she and Saari had a good strike rate and “haven’t lost money for anyone”.
Saari added: “Everything has made investors their money back.That’s a responsibility that we really take seriously, whether it’s a studio or an independent financier or the dentist down the street. They invested in us and what we believed in, and we owe that back.”
Their early productions were made modestly, with Kidman admitting to laughter she had at one point “peed in a bush”.
“There was nothing around, we had very little time and we were losing the light. So it’s like, ‘Go behind the tree’. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get the shot.”