Northern landscapes take star billing
Many movies have been filmed in the great North West, bringing the dramatic scenery and characters of the area to the world, writes Stephen Scourfield.
BRAN NUE DAE
Way back in the summer of 1969, life seems pretty idyllic for young Willie in the old pearling port of Broome.
He spends his days fishing, and with his mates and his girl. This is classic Broometime.
But then his mother sends him off to the religious mission for schooling. He runs away and Bran Nue Dae tells the story of his journey home.
Apart from a scene shot at Molly Springs near Kununurra, most of the filming was done around Broome, from Napier Terrace on the edge of Broome’s Chinatown to an old house, Morgan’s Camp, which still sits on the mudflats just beyond town.
The Roebuck Hotel reminds us of Jessica Mauboy’s bluesy solos and some musical numbers.
Sun Pictures, the world’s oldest picture garden, features.
Bran Nue Dae was written by Broome local Jimmy Chi, directed by Rachel Perkins and starred Rocky McKenzie, Ernie Dingo, Geoffrey Rush, Jessica Mauboy and Missy Higgins.
Nicole Kidman is an English aristocrat who reluctantly enters a pact with stockman Hugh Jackman to protect her cattle station from a takeover plot.
They drive 2000 head of cattle through the northern landscape, in scenes that use the Kimberley’s Bungle Bungle Range and Cockburn Range as a backdrop.
Production was based in Kununurra and some of the movies’ Faraway Downs scenes were shot at Carlton Hill Station.
Other scenes were shot at El Questro Wilderness Park and Nicole Kidman became fond of Emma Gorge. Locals were involved in horse and cattle wrangling and as extras.
Australia was directed by Baz Luhrmann.
First there was Louis de Bernieres’ book, then the 2011 film, and now a 2017 sequel, Red Dog: True Blue. But the first Red Dog movie was the one that really brought the Pilbara landscape to the world.
The story is based on the true tale of the red kelpie who united a community while roaming in search of his long-lost master.
Locations included Dampier, its beach, caravan park, cemetery, shopping mall and highway, salt flats, the Rio Tinto Port Operations Site, Parker Point, Karratha vet clinic, Newman and Tom Price.
The movie was directed by Kriv Stenders and starred Josh Lucas, Rachael Taylor, Rohan Nichol and, of course, Koko.
The real Wolfe Creek crater, in Wolfe Creek Crater National Park 145km south of Halls Creek, is the second-biggest meteorite crater in the world from which fragments have been recovered.
And Wolf Creek, the movie, is based on this location.
Three stranded backpackers are befriended by a local who turns out to be a sadistic psychopath. They are plunged into a nightmare of torture.
Written and directed by Greg McLean, it stars John Jarratt, Nathan Phillips, Cassandra Magrath and Kestie Morassi.
Just when we thought the horror was over, out comes Wolf Creek 2.
Rather than being derogatory, “mad bastards” is a term of admiration and endearment in the Kimberley. And the movie is very much a Kimberley story.
Wyndham becomes the fictional town of Five Rivers and “real people” with no acting experience take the lead roles and often improvise scenes.
It feels very real-life to me, as the storyline follows TJ, who sets out to find the son he has never known. As he travels the Kimberley, he questions his violent life, meeting larger-than-life characters, who open up a more traditional way of life, with music and community.
But when he arrives in Five Rivers, TJ is confronted by local cop Texas, and so begins their story, about hard men battling to do the right thing. The movie is set to the distinctive music of the Pigram Brothers in collaboration with Alex Lloyd.
Director Brendan Fletcher spent years developing the collaboration with people playing characters based on their own lives.
It stars Dean Daley-Jones, Lucas Yeeda and Greg Tait.
The Mad Bastards ensemble and musicians.
Wolf Creek director Greg McLean with actor John Jarratt.
Koko during the filming of Red Dog in the Pilbara.
To read more pick up the Weekend West on March 11 to see the Great North West Travel Magazine.