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Arts stories

Film making draws a talent home

Edition 188_Grieve

Tasmanian-born author Bradley Trevor Greive, whose varied adventures include selling 30 million books, is back home and looking to keep up the pace of local film-making.

Mr Greive will be working on a travel series called Friends of the Devil with local business Rummin Productions.

“I had a burning desire to do some projects back home, for an excuse to come back home, and we had an idea for an adventure-travel comedy series,” he told the ABC.

His co-star is an old friend, Australian actor Adam Zwar, who has featured in ABC TV’s Agony Aunts, Lowdown and Wilfred.

“We’re the odd couple,” Mr Greive said. “He’s a tiny little gingernut and I’m a big hairy hulk and we will have a lot of fun with a genuine friendship which is at the core of this.

“No doubt there'll be a certain amount of misadventure, bleeding and vomiting.”

Given Mr Greive’s track record, the series is likely to maintain film-making momentum in Tasmania where international successes The Kettering Incident, Lion and Death or Liberty have been among recent productions.

Mr Greive has spent most of his recent life in Los Angeles and Alaska.

He has had limited media exposure in his home State, but has accumulated an extraordinary global CV.

“I’m an ex-paratrooper … who has had my share of survival courses and I spend half my year in Alaska tracking giant brown bears. I’m a legitimate outdoorsy type,” he said.

As well as military service, the 193cm tall Tasmanian had a short-lived stint as a model, as well as more sustained spells as a cartoonist, TV personality, wildlife photographer and wildlife philanthropist.

He did some cosmonaut training in Moscow, became French Polynesian rock-lifting champion in 2005 and was the voice of an albatross in Finding Nemo.

He met his wife while they were working for Walt Disney Imagineering, an elite business unit that helps keep the entertainment empire supplied with ideas.

Best known for his international best-seller The Blue Day Book and similar whimsical publications featuring animals and birds, Mr Greive has recently written a book about Sydney woman Sam Bloom who befriended an injured magpie, nicknamed Penguin, after becoming a paraplegic.

“I was so moved by the story; by the courage of Sam Bloom; and by the talents of [her husband] Cameron who really took … photographs as a form of therapy,” he said.

“He basically became a full-time carer and a single father at that moment and he coped with that by creating these beautiful photographs.”

The Blooms approached Mr Greive, whom they had met several years before Mrs Bloom’s crippling accident.

“I had the challenge of writing the narrative around it and I have to tell you I cried my unattractive face off over 12 months writing the book,” Mr Greive said.

“It was an absolutely exhausting journey and I’m just so glad that people love it.”

The book, Penguin Bloom, is now being made into a movie starring Naomi Watts and produced by Reese Witherspoon, thanks, in part, to Mr Greive’s Hollywood contacts.

Now 47, Mr Greive was born in Hobart in 1970, when his family lived at Battery Point and his father was working as a doctor at UTAS’s School of Medicine.

He was still a baby when his dad got a scholarship to continue his medical studies at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the family moved to Scotland.

A childhood ensued in Scotland, Wales, England, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, and he eventually returned to Australia in the 1980s when his family settled in NSW.

After finishing high school in 1988, he and a cousin headed to Tasmania for a week so Mr Greive could reconnect with his birth State. They rented a car and “screamed around the mountains like two chimps in a billycart”.

“I was utterly in awe of Tasmania’s unparalleled natural beauty, and intrigued by her dark history,” he told Tasweekend. “I felt a connection that has never left me – I determined there and then that as soon as I was able I would return to Tasmania to buy a rural property near the ocean.”

He came back in 2001 and spent a decade living and writing on the east coast – between travelling adventures.

A period of bliss ended when he forgot to latch a gate to his property and his three great danes (his "family" at the time) got out, killed his neighbour’s sheep and had to be put down.

“The sight of the dogs’ graves left me ruined with grief,” he said. “I couldn’t enjoy my private slice of paradise anymore – I needed a change of scenery. So I bought a plane ticket.”

Mr Greive found prestigious employment and love in Los Angeles.

Now he hopes Friends of the Devil will be a great way to showcase some of the famous and less well-known wonders of a place he loves deeply.

When he revisited Hobart in September to share his tricks of the publishing trade at the Tasmanian Writers Festival, he told the ABC: “You get here and it almost hurts it’s so clean, the air is cleaner here than anywhere else in the world.

“When my feet touched the ground … there was just this almost perverse pleasure in inhaling Tasmanian air again after several years away.”

Image courtesy of The Mercury

3 October 2017, Edition 188

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