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Silver screen premiere

Thursday, 16th July, 2015

By Darrin Manuel

Broken Hill’s high reputation as an film locale will be further enhanced with the release of ‘Last Cab To Darwin’.

The Silver City is the primary setting for the movie, with numerous shots of well known locations making the final cut.

The humble Barrier Daily Truth can also be seen throughout the film, and its protagonist even ends up in a phone conversation with local radio identity Andrew Schmidt.

Last Cab To Darwin follows Rex (Michael Caton), a terminally ill cancer sufferer travelling to the Northern Territory to take advantage of changes to euthanasia laws.

The story draws inspiration from former local taxi driver Max Bell who made a similar journey in the mid 1990s.

But while the Northern Territory did brifely institute new euthanasia laws in 1996, director Jeremy Sims said the story was not set in any particular year. 

“What we’ve done with the film very specifically is not place it anywhere - we didn’t want to say to people ‘this is a true story from 1996’ because it’s a more allegorical story than that,” he said.

“What we say to people when they watch it is ‘this is probably 20 years ago’... but we didn’t put a date on it, we didn’t want it to be a documentary.”

Rex’s bygone era is captured with great authenticity as he drunkenly dances around his Gaffney Street home that features a cathode ray TV, rotary phone, and an old record player belting out Atlanta Rhythm Section. 

Broken Hill’s small-town feel is also faithfully replicated; everybody knows everybody, very little is private, and characters share in good-natured self-deprecating humour.

Jeremy Sims said he had visited Broken Hill on four separate occasions, and was confident the city would deliver the authentic outback look needed for the film.

“It was what we were looking for and it exceeded (expectations) really,” he said.

Much of the film centres around the All Nations Hotel where Rex drinks with his friends, and the city’s west where he has made a home near his neighbour and lover, Polly.

“It’s such a beautiful pub, and it was perfect for us because it is the sort of place you’d walk to from your house and see your mates,” said Sims.

“We also loved Railwaytown. We were looking around Broken Hill for weeks looking for the right houses for Rex and Polly to live in, and finally we were chatting to someone and they said ‘have you looked in Railwaytown?’

“Just the whole feel of Railwaytown, being an old industrial part of town and a poorer part of town, was just fantastic. We were really lucky to find that part of Broken Hill.”

Broken Hill isn’t the only outback centre to receive attention, however, with the story taking Rex to a number of isolated sites such as Olary, Oodnadatta and a host other tiny towns.

A crew of 35 made the painstaking 3000km journey from Broken Hill to Darwin to film the movie, resulting in 14 flat tyres, three cracked windshields, bogged vehicles, and countless flies swallowed by the cast and crew.

“The shoot on the road was really hard work but we were so happy to be doing it,” said Sims.

“We were so thrilled that we’d been able to convince our investors and all the other people connected to the film that it was a good idea to drive 3000km with a film crew.

“We only pulled it off because everybody wanted to do that drive and be on that adventure across the country.”

Sims could confidently say that the effort was completely worthwhile, as Rex’s journey through central Australia is interwoven with breathtaking shots of the lurid landscapes that can only found in the red centre.

“All the reviewers of the film immediately recognise that one of the main characters in the film is the country around Rex’s journey,” said Sims.

“We wouldn’t have been able to get that performance from Michael without making that journey because he was just as amazed as we were.”

Sims said he and his crew were now looking forward to showing the finished product to the people of Broken Hill.

The movie will premiere at the Silver City Cinema tonight, with Sims, Michael Caton, Mark Coles Smith and Ningali Lawford-Wolf all attending the red-carpet event.

“We were all talking yesterday about how excited we are to come back to Broken Hill to screen it. We had so much help in Broken Hill in getting this film up... it’s going to be great to screen it for everyone,” said Sims.

“We just really hope everyone that wants to come and see the film can, and if they can’t, that they support us on August 6 when we open nationally.”

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