November 2009: http://www.theage.com.au/enterta....h3.html
Tale of sun, surf and sex set for big screen
TIM Winton is a patient man. Perhaps that's because he's a surfer and is used to waiting for the right wave. He'll need that patience now to deal with a different sort of wave - the wave of interest film makers are showing in adapting his novels for the screen.
His best-known novel, Cloudstreet, was published in 1991 and in February filming will begin on Winton's script for a six-hour miniseries to be shown on cable TV. Australian director Phil Noyce has been trying to film Dirt Music for several years, but the project has faced a series of delays.
The latest interest comes from Australian actor Simon Baker and American film producer Mark Johnson, who have acquired the rights to Winton's most recent novel, Breath, for which Winton won his fourth Miles Franklin literary award.
Breath is the story of two risk-taking adolescents growing up on the coast of Western Australia and falling under the influence of a gun surfer, Sando, and his American wife, Eva. While Sando draws the boys into the more intense physical and emotional risks posed by huge surf, Eva leads one of them into confronting sexual experience.
Johnson, who is in Australia completing The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third of the Narnia films, read Breath and liked it, he said, because ''it was such a celebration of youth and youthful anarchy''.
He met Tim Winton last year in Oregon while the writer was on a US book tour. ''He said to me that of all his books he could see this one being set in the US, but I said I had to respectfully disagree. I said it was so specific.''
Johnson said he immediately thought of involving Baker, with whom he had worked on the TV legal drama The Guardian.
''Simon had heard of Tim Winton but didn't know of the book. He read it over a weekend and said he had to sit down once he'd finished it. It really spoke to him,'' Johnson said. ''I think surfing had also been an escape for Simon, a passion when he was growing up and had helped him with his family.''
Baker, who stars on the small screen in The Mentalist, said in a statement that he was keen to play the part of Sando, the older surfer. ''Winton's book beautifully captures the excitement and brutality of growing up in a way I've experienced, but have never been able to articulate,'' he said.
Now the search is on for a writer and director. ''Simon and I are determined to make it an Australian film,'' Johnson said. ''I would hope that both the writer and director would also be Australian. In a perfect world I would be the lone American involved.'' He added that Baker had yet to meet Winton.