‘The Legend of Ben Hall’ director developing adaptation of Colin Thiele’s ‘Blue Fin’

Matthew Holmes, the writer/director/producer of bushranger film The Legend of Ben Hall, is in the final stages of script development on Blue Fin, a feature adaptation of Colin Thiele’s 1969 novel.

Thiele, who died in 2006, was also the author of Storm Boy, the book which inspired the eponymous 1976 film and its new contemporary ‘re-imagining’, currently filming in South Australia and starring Geoffrey Rush and Jai Courtney.

Blue Fin follows the clumsy Steve ‘Snook’ Pascoe, whose father, skipper of tuna boat Blue Fin, believes he won’t amount to anything. However, when his father allows him to join him on a tuna-fishing expedition, disaster strikes, and it is up to Snook to save them both.

The novel was also made into a film in 1978, directed by Carl Schultz and starring Hardy Kruger, Greg Rowe, Liddy Clark and John Jarrett.

Holmes optioned the rights to the book, his favourite as a child, from the Thiele estate in 2013 and has been working on the script periodically since then.

“It was a very influential novel for me,” Holmes told IF. “Like most of Colin Thiele’s work, it captures something about childhood and growing up, especially in Australia.”

With Storm Boy being remade, Holmes felt it was an opportune time to run with the project, given Thiele’s work was once again in the spotlight.

He said his adaptation of Blue Fin will adhere closely to the novel where the 1978 film deviated somewhat.

“It’s quite a faithful adaptation. The Thiele family have read my script and they were very happy and felt that it really kept the heart and spirit of original novel.”

Much of the team from The Legend of Ben Hall are on board with the project, including production companies Two Tone Media and RLC Entertainment, producers Russell Cunningham and Jessica Pearce, DOP Peter Szilveszter, production designer Das Patterson and composer Ronnie Minder. Australia American Media’s Claudia Keech joins as co-producer.

Holmes said they are in the early stages of securing financing, but the hope is to enter production in 2018.