Filming begins in the Kimberley
After more than a decade of delays, digressions and disappointments the much-anticipated adaptation of Tim Winton’s Dirt Music is under way on the Dampier Peninsula.
A crew of more than 60 is working alongside the Bardi Jawi people to get ahead of the wet season and shoot the climax of Winton’s wrenching 2001 Booker Prize-shortlisted romance about two damaged souls who find solace in the wilds of WA.
The production will then head south — to Perth, for a couple of brief scenes, and to Esperance, which is standing in for Winton’s mythical White Point (a thinly disguised Lancelin).
And sitting atop this vast filmmaking enterprise — one of the biggest in the history of the local screen industry — are Scots star Kelly MacDonald and American hunk Garrett Hedlund, who play unhappy fisherman’s wife Georgie Jutland and the poacher Luther Fox.
David Wenham is Georgie’s husband Jim Buckridge, with the support roles filled by Sydney singer-songwriter Julia Stone, Mystery Road’s Aaron Pedersen, veteran Chris Haywood and Dan Wyllie, last seen as Wes Buckin in Jasper Jones.
“To be able to shoot Dirt Music where Tim Winton set his novel is fantastic,” British-based producer Finola Dwyer tells me after a long day shooting on an island off One Arm Point, one of several locations along the Dampier Peninsula.
“When you look out over this beautiful setting you realise it’s worth the extra effort to make Dirt Music locations faithful to the book. It’s why audiences go to the movies — to be taken somewhere they haven’t been before.”
Dwyer’s previous films include An Education, the multiple Oscar nominee Brooklyn and the acclaimed Robert Redford-Jane Fonda Netflix old-folks romance Our Souls at Night.
The reason why she and director Gregor Jordan (Two Hands, Ned Kelly) are able to make Dirt Music thousands of kilometres from a major metropolitan centre and take advantage of the stunning Kimberley landscape is because of the Regional Film Fund, a $16 million war chest the WA Government is using to facilitate productions in our gorgeous, faraway places.
The extra cash, drawn from the Royalties for Regions program, has kicked off a production boom in WA, with Dirt Music joining the likes of Three Summers, the ABC series Mystery Road, Go Carts, H is for Happiness (shooting in Albany) and Rams (filming in Mt Barker) in giving our State its richly deserved close-up.
The level of production — unprecedented in our State’s history — has made WA the busiest filmmaking region in the country, according to acting Screen-West chief executive Peter Rowe.
“The Regional Film Fund is pivotal in lifting the level of production to record levels. We are now the busiest filmmaking region in the country,” Mr Rowe told The Sunday Times.
“Being able to film in the regions has benefits for the local economies and for tourism. More significantly, it’s enabling filmmakers to tell a greater range of WA stories.
“We are very different from the rest of the country and film is playing a major role in defining that difference.
“Our films are capturing what is quintessentially ‘us’.”
Mr Rowe said the industry was “reaching a critical mass”.
“There’s a stream of wonderful projects in the pipeline. We are approaching a level of production that will keep crews living and working in WA,” he said.
“And the support we receive from government is crucial in sustaining that activity.”
Instagram Post: dirtmusicmovieOn our first day of filming in the Kimberley, cast and crew circle round to hear traditional owner Frank Davey welcome us to Bardi Jawi Country. We feel very privileged to be working with the local community amongst breathtaking landscapes; this land is truly magic!