Screenwriter connects with limestone

Wellington screenwriter Teresa Bass is in Oamaru as she begins work on an adaptation of Fiona...
Wellington screenwriter Teresa Bass is in Oamaru as she begins work on an adaptation of Fiona Farrell's 2009 novel Limestone into a feature film. Photo: Hamish MacLean.
Fiona Farrell's central character in Limestone, Clare Lacey, was "born in limestone country".

Wellington screenwriter Teresa Bass has arrived in Oamaru - the character and the author's birthplace - to soak in the atmosphere.

Ms Bass, originally from Houston, Texas, has begun the work of adapting the well-known New Zealand author's 2009 novel into a screenplay. She is staying in the Oamaru Public Gardens House until March 6 as part of the Film Otago Southland Writers in Residence programme.

"A lot of it, for me, is just building a visual world," Ms Bass said.

"You're kind of taking those mental snapshots - because eventually you're going to be writing about `that house' and you want to feel it. You want to know what `that' feels like.

"It's a really beautiful, very emotionally intimate story. It's very contained, but really deeply emotional. And the prose is just really musical; it just is very evocative."

It is Ms Bass' second residency with Film Otago Southland, but her first adaptation of a novel into a feature film.

The novel is split between the protagonist's adulthood in Ireland and her childhood in Oamaru. And the theme of identity is central to the narrative - and so limestone "being the bones, the remnants of all these creatures" becomes central as well, Ms Bass said, "that idea of us being made up of all the things that came before us".

"So much of her journey is internal, so much of it is things she's realising about herself."

Ms Bass met Oamaru producer Maddy Maxwell at the International Screenwriters Conference in Dunedin in September 2017; Ms Maxwell was the one who brought her on board last year.

"When I first read Fiona's novel, I fell in love with her description of 1970s Oamaru and the deep connection with limestone," Ms Maxwell said.

"The enthusiasm of both Fiona and Teresa ... to help move this project forward is very exciting. I am really looking forward to working with as many local people as possible to see this to fruition."

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