City turns it on for filmmakers

Wednesday, 5th April, 2017

Producer Helen Bowden, director Kriv Stenders, local Jason King and producer Kristian Moliere in Eyre Street at a house being used in the filming. Producer Helen Bowden, director Kriv Stenders, local Jason King and producer Kristian Moliere in Eyre Street at a house being used in the filming.

By Kara de Groot

Filming of the Wake in Fright remake is nearly halfway done, and the producers say working in Broken Hill has been an absolute pleasure.

“Everyone’s just having such a great time,” producer Helen Bowden said yesterday.

“The three weeks we were shooting in Sydney it rained every day, so it’s been a massive change coming from where it’s raining every day to beautiful sunshine,” she said.

“It’s just such an extraordinary-looking place and we feel very excited about what it puts on the screen.

“Taking an audience to a place they’ve never been is always a really great part of a drama and that’s what we feel we can do with Broken Hill.”

The city of course has a strong film history, as the setting for the original Wake in Fright movie, for Mad Max 2, Priscilla, and more recently Strangerland and Last Cab to Darwin among others.

Ms Bowden said that aside from the unique landscape, its size was an important factor for many films.

“We’re in an era where there aren’t many medium sized towns in the country; they’re either tiny or they’re cities, so Broken Hill offered a lot that’s difficult to find somewhere else,” she said.

The producers explored other interstate locations in which to film the mini-series but after they saw Broken Hill with their own eyes, Ms Bowden said their minds were made up.

“One of the first location looks we took was here and within 24 hours of being here we had all decided that it had to be here. The resonance of the original story is just so strong and its unlike anywhere else.

“Broken Hill is in the Australian psyche really, and we realised that nothing else could offer us what being out here could.”

The Channel 10 series will be a four-hour retelling of the novel Wake in Fright, as compared to the movie’s one and a half hours. 

This has required the filmmakers to explore further aspects of the novel that might not have been in the original movie, while still staying true to the plot.

The series will also be set in the present day, as opposed to when the book was written in 1961.

Ms Bowden said that Broken Hill residents had been very accommodating, whether as extras or helping the film crew on the street.

“From our first visit here people have been so incredibly helpful,” she said.

“It’s expensive to get here but once you’re here it’s so much easier to operate and I can feel the joy of the crew because they’re able to just get on with their work.

“We’ve done a lot of shopping of every kind here for props, costumes; we’re using people’s houses and all sorts of Broken Hill locations to make the story authentic to Broken Hill and it’s been great.”

Filming has taken the crew from South’s All Nations Hotel in Eyre Street (renamed the Bundanyabba Arms for filming) to various shops and houses throughout town, and soon they’ll head out to the Pinnacles for the last few takes.

While some films choose to ignore the Line of Lode that dominates the Broken Hill skyline, the Wake in Fright crew has made sure to put it in shots.

“We’ve been shooting a lot of the Line of Lode and the old mining infrastructure and it’s incredibly picturesque,” Ms Bowden said.

“The All Nations Hotel, our Bundanyabba Arms, looks fantastic on screen and Gloria who owns it has just been amazing. She’s been incredibly helpful to us,” she said.

She said that, even apart from the ease of filming and the support of the public, Broken Hill was a very special place.

“As a heritage-listed city it is really something very special visually and culturally, and it’s a fantastic thing to see that it exists and it’s being protected by the people of the town.”