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12 February 2020
By DEAN LAWSON
Images of the Wimmera-Mallee’s landscape, towns and people are set to appear before a potential worldwide audience later this year with the release of a major motion picture.
Rob Connolly, who directed The Dry, shot in the region last year, described this week how the locality had played a key role in telling the story adapted from author Jane Harper’s award-winning book of the same name.
He said in providing the backdrop to the project, the Wimmera-Mallee had produced both ‘wonderful’ filming opportunities and experiences.
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Connolly, whose previous credits include award-winning films Balibo and Paper Planes, said an Australian release of the movie on August 27 represented an opportunity to show the region to a wide audience.
“Jane Harper’s book is a massive global success, depicting the life and hardship faced in this area of Australia, and we are excited that the film will expand on this audience as it is released in cinemas this year,” he said.
“Jane joined us during production in the region too, for the opening scenes of the film, and fans of her book will have a chance to see the world of her book translated to the screen, with locations and cast very much responding to her writing.”
Connolly said he had ‘fallen in love’ with the location while on reconnaissance for a setting with executive producer Eric Bana, who stars in the movie, and the film’s location manager.
“We were continually surprised by the wonderful opportunities each town offered up, and how perfectly suited they were for the locations described in Jane’s murder-mystery,” he said.
“The epic landscape of this region is also massively cinematic suiting the large format ambition for the film.”
The Dry is an award-winning crime mystery set in a fictional town of Kiewarra, which, based on its description, could easily be any drought-ravaged settlement undergoing economic downturn in north-western rural Victoria.
Primary character Aaron Falk, played by Bana, is drawn into an investigation and web of intrigue when he returns to the country town of his youth to attend the funeral of his childhood best friend.
Shooting occurred in various parts of Yarriambiack Shire from Murtoa to Beulah.
Connolly said it had been important for all involved that the film authentically depicted this part of the world.
“With this in mind it was important to depict real, working farms and homesteads, use locals wherever we could in front of the camera, and work hard to avoid any of the clichés that cinema sometimes falls into when depicting life in regional Australia,” he said.
“To achieve this we reached out to the Wimmera-Mallee community and received overwhelming support and advice.”
He said the help had been so important throughout production that the team was looking forward to returning to the region to show the film.
“We received generous help from locals throughout the shoot, with so many people allowing us to film in their wonderful properties. I would not have been able to make the film without this incredible support,” he said.
“In all aspects of the production we found locals keen to help with the film. It has been an exciting opportunity in my career to live in the region and depict the world of the Wimmera-Mallee on screen.”
The previous movie shot with a Wimmera-Mallee backdrop was The Dressmaker in 2015.
Bruna Papandrea, Jodi Matterson and Steve Hutensky produced The Dry for development, production and finance company Made Up Stories.
Screen Australia in association with Film Victoria provided major production investment for the project that Roadshow Films will distribute throughout Australia and New Zealand.
The entire February 12, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!