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16 December 2020
By DEAN LAWSON
The impending release of a major Australian motion picture shot in the Wimmera-Mallee is set to present the perfect launching pad for post-pandemic efforts to attract people and investment to the region.
That is the consensus of development and municipal leaders reflecting on completion of The Dry, a rural-based murder-mystery movie based on a Jane Harper book and scheduled for national release on January 1.
Production involved extensive filming across the Wimmera and southern Mallee, an ideal base for the fictional drought-stricken town of Kiewarra.
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Yarriambiack Shire mayor Graeme Massey of Warracknabeal and his Hindmarsh Shire counterpart Ron Ismay of Rainbow joined Wimmera Development Association executive director Chris Sounness in echoing sentiments.
Cr Massey said the movie would present another reason for people to visit the region.
“It is tremendous free publicity for us. We couldn’t wish for anything better. What we might pay thousands for a private firm to do, we’re getting for nothing,” he said.
“And this is not just going to benefit Yarriambiack Shire. The flow-on effect for surrounding places such as Horsham and Stawell could be significant.
“For us it will complement attractions such as the Silo Art Trail and places like Wheatlands Museum in Warracknabeal, the Stick Shed at Murtoa, Lake Lascelles at Hopetoun and so on.
“I’m pretty sure if it’s anything like television shows, many people who see the movie will make an effort to come and see the spots it was filmed. I’m told the Flying Doctors, filmed in Minyip many years ago, is still being aired in Germany and Holland, so that gives an indication of how long this type of thing can last.
“I think the beauty of The Dry is that they’ve used real locations, especially for exterior shots.”
Cr Massey said a message from the film makers was that they were ‘very’ happy with the reception they received in the region.
“In fact I think we overwhelmed some of the cast and crew who couldn’t speak highly enough about their experience. I’m confident that would be replicated for anyone else who came here with a film project,” he said.
“That sort of feedback filters through, so hopefully when others think about making films they continue to consider us for a location. Our doors are certainly open.”
Cr Massey added that making films in the Wimmera fitted neatly with a growing artistic theme in Yarriambiack Shire.
“Warracknabeal Courthouse is developing into an artist-residence gallery and the same is happening at Hopetoun Powerhouse. And of course there is the Silo Art Trail. There is a very strong artistic theme developing right across the shire,” he said.
“And the project to get a statue honouring Nick Cave in Warracknabeal hasn’t gone away. There is still a strong push for that to happen. We’ll just wait and see.”
Cr Ismay said he believed The Dry provided a snapshot into what could be a potential burst of activity in the region.
“There is going to be good things happening here. People can’t simply jump on a plane and go overseas anymore and there is a fair amount of money being thrown at regional Victorian promotion,” he said.
“There are things going on in our patch and The Dry is reflective of the opportunity regional Victoria has to kick on a bit. I’m excited about the potential this means in attracting tourists and recognise we must make hay while the sun shines and take full advantage while we can.
“Anything that gives us exposure is great. People want to travel and I think we’re going to get more people into regions. We’re already seeing it happen.”
Mr Sounness said making the most of artistic productions in the region would always depend on the experiences of all involved.
“The film makers will definitely talk about that and pass it on. The Australian rural genre is very popular at the moment – in Australia and around the world. The chances are there are likely to be more opportunities for films with a rural Australian setting,” he said.
“I have no doubt the imagery in the film will be both stunning and iconic. But we must ensure we build on what’s needed to meet the needs of people starting to look for domestic tourism experiences as well as people keen to make films.
“Much is about highlighting the landscape and its communities and tying in our other features and attractions.
“We have a great eco-based tourism product and hopefully The Dry will create more awareness of what we offer.
“Visitor expectation and how they get to interact with locals is going to be important – just as important as the landscape.
“We want people to come here and to then come back regularly and that’s where the interaction is important.”
Guests and media representatives joined acclaimed Australian actor Eric Bana, who stars in the film, and director Robert Connolly for a special screening of the movie at Horsham Centre Cinema on Thursday.
The entire December 16, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!