Pre-production on the $15 million Foxtel and BBC television drama The Kettering Incident begins in Tasmania tomorrow, with filming due to start in August. More than 150 staff will be involved in the production. ISABEL BIRD speaks with Launceston scriptwriter Vicki Madden about her eight-episode supernatural crime thriller.
VICKI Madden arrived home in Tasmania after years of living overseas and felt as though she no longer belonged.
The island, which she had fondly described and fiercely protected with pride while living away, felt somehow different.
"I was thinking of myself as a Tasmanian, of coming back and everything being familiar and everyone knowing me from childhood but I realised that I didn't belong as much as I thought, because I had changed so much," Madden said.
It was this identity issue that Madden was experiencing when she was introduced to Porchlight Films producer Vincent Sheehan with the help of Screen Tasmania.
Sheehan had produced Animal Kingdom and at the time was working on The Hunter in Tasmania.
The two started hashing ideas for a future television production that would be influenced by Madden's interest in cross-genre crime shows that contained elements of the super natural.
"I was very interested in the notion of home. I thought `is this home because my mother is here, or is it the place, and what happens to people when they come home and realise this isn't actually home anymore'?" she said.
"That is the journey of our protagonist, Anna Macy, and a lot of my journey is in there with hers, with the added murder mystery.
"She comes home from London after 20 years to face the trauma in her past, where a girl child went missing while playing with Anna, and has never been found.
"I was very interested in the notion of home. I thought `is this home because my mother is here, or is it the place, and what happens to people when they come home and realise this isn't actually home anymore"
"When Anna returns to Tasmania it happens again."
Madden, who now lives in Launceston with her two dogs, spent most of her childhood and later teenage years on the station property Rushy Lagoon, near Gladstone.
She said she always remembered the time when she was about 11 and her mother took her to Kettering.
"My mum took me down there and I thought it was the most beautiful town I had ever seen. I was enchanted by it. I had never seen a marina before and the scene just stayed with me," she said.
"While shooting [the series] we will be trying to get that gothic Tasmanian feel that I love so much, and we will be embracing the cold ... I have written the weather into the show."
Madden's career as a scriptwriter began after she absently picked up a script for television show Neighbours.
"I started out working in Channel Ten as a cadet journalist, didn't love the idea of it but really wanted to tell stories, and while I was there Neighbours was dropped by Channel 7 and picked up by Ten, so all the Neighbours gang came over while I was there.
"I was sharing a house with a publicist at the time, so a lot of actors would come round and leave their scripts.
"I picked one up and it was one of those moments - it dawned on me that that was exactly what I wanted to do."
Madden started as a typist for the Australian drama The Flying Doctors, moved to the medical drama GP, and eventually wrote for Water Rats.
She later became connected to famous UK crime writer Lynda La Plante and was offered a job on The Bill.
"It was incredible to be a young Australian, to come in fresh and deal with actors who had been there since the show began," she said..
"At the time I didn't realise it was 96 episodes a year, and I had been used to 26 episodes so there were some big lessons and a whole lot of work."
The Kettering Incident will be Madden's first big production and she is excited about being able to shoot in Tasmania.
"I really want to capture what Tasmania represents to the people who live here, how they are influenced by our past, and why people are so reluctant to leave.
"We have got people working on this who are the best in their field and it is great to be able to sit down and hear them talking and thinking `wow this is going to be amazing'."