Walk­a­bout with Satel­lite Boy ........................

The Bun­gle Bun­gles star in Satel­lite Boy, writes Caris Bizzaca

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY CONTENTS -

IN 1969, a 16-year-old David Gulpilil was cast in a film called Walk­a­bout.

More than 40 years later, Gulpilil, now a fa­mous ac­tor and re­spected Abo­rig­i­nal el­der, found him­self act­ing along­side 10-year-old Cameron Wal­laby as he made his own de­but in walk­a­bout film Satel­lite Boy.

‘‘There was this lovely feel­ing of com­ing full cir­cle,’’ says di­rec­tor Ca­tri­ona McKen­zie of see­ing the two to­gether.

McKen­zie can re­mem­ber watch­ing Walk­a­bout as a lit­tle girl and to have Gulpilil come on board, af­ter she flew to Dar­win and ex­plained the story to him, was a dream come true.

‘‘For me it was like work­ing with (Robert) De Niro or Meryl Streep or Jodie Foster or one of those great ac­tors,’’ she says.

Satel­lite Boy is McKen­zie’s first fea­ture film, a move which felt like ‘‘com­ing home’’ af­ter work­ing suc­cess­fully for years on tele­vi­sion shows such as Red­fern Now.

The light-hearted film, about a boy (Wal­laby) who goes on a mod­ern-day walk­a­bout with his best friend to save his home from de­struc­tion, also marks an­other first – and not just for McKen­zie. Satel­lite Boy is the first movie to have been filmed in the Bun­gle Bun­gle Ranges in Western Aus­tralia, where gi­ant or­ange and black domes rear up from the earth.

‘‘Baz (Luhrmann) did aeri­als, but we ac­tu­ally were on the ground,’’ McKen­zie says, re­fer­ring to Luhrmann’s epic Aus­tralia.

To gain per­mis­sion to film there, it took months of lis­ten­ing and talk­ing with the tra­di­tional own­ers. When it came time to film, the Bun­gle Bun­gles’ her­itage list­ing cre­ated a prob­lem.

‘‘We had to walk ev­ery­thing in,’’ McKen­zie says. ‘‘You couldn’t drive any­thing in.’’

Ve­hi­cles weren’t al­lowed within 2km of the Bun­gle Bun­gles, forc­ing the crew to carry in all the equip­ment, from cam­eras to wa­ter, on can­vas stretch­ers.

The task was par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult with the mer­cury soar­ing to in­cred­i­bly high tem­per­a­tures.

‘‘The soles of peo­ple’s feet, the gravel was melt­ing them be­cause it was that hot on the ground,’’ she says. ‘‘I think a hu­man be­ing needs two litres of wa­ter per per­son per day. We needed eight litres of wa­ter per per­son per day. Peo­ple were faint­ing and it was re­ally hard go­ing, but no one com­plained.’’

McKen­zie says the process, while chal­leng­ing, was ul­ti­mately a re­ward­ing one.

‘‘We take an au­di­ence into a place not many peo­ple get to see so it’s pretty amaz­ing.’’

Satel­lite Boy opens to­day.

Old Jaga­marra (David Gulpilil) and his grand­son Pete (Cameron Wal­laby) in a scene from Ca­tri­ona McKen­zie’s film Satel­lite Boy.

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