Minyip film boon
The tiny wheatbelt town of Minyip gained national prominence in the 1980s and ’90s as the setting for the television series The Flying Doctors.
It now appears ready to make the leap from the small screen to the silver screen in 2019.
Production of a film adaptation of author Jane Harper’s novel The Dry is expected to begin in Minyip on February 28.
Filmmakers have selected the town’s iconic Club Hotel – which featured heavily in The Flying Doctors – as a shooting location for the international production, which will star Australian film icon Eric Bana.
Minyip’s Emma’s Cafe proprietor Dale Maggs has offered the cafe as a headquarters for the production.
He confirmed a production team, including a producer, assistant director and cinematographer, would travel to the town today, where he expected them to officially announce Minyip as a location for the film.
“I got a text from the site co-ordinator saying they were coming down,” he said.
“She has pretty much confirmed it will be in Minyip, but they haven’t announced it officially yet.
“As far as I know, the selection process has been over the past month and a half.
“They’ve just fallen in love with the ambience of the old Club Hotel, the layout of the rooms and the fact it hasn’t been touched in years.
“As they said, it’s a remarkable building.”
Mr Maggs said Bana – an executive producer for the project – and a production crew had been in the Wimmera scouting locations on December 7 and had stopped at Emma’s Cafe.
“We had a bit of chat and they spent half an hour in the shop and asked us little questions about our town, and in particular, the hotel,” he said.
“I said I’d contact them with the details of the owner, which I did.
“I had a good conversation with the owner about what their needs were, and the owner agreed to have the production crew come in and have a look at the premises.
“They’re very, very happy with what they’ve seen in Minyip.
“They have some other locations – Beulah and Murtoa – which they’ve selected.”
Mr Maggs said producers and members of the film’s art department had also returned to Minyip on Saturday for a three-hour meeting.
The Dry is set to be the first major film production in the Wimmera since The Dressmaker in 2015.
It will also be Bana’s first role in an Australian film since the critically acclaimed 2007 drama Romulus, My Father.
The film will be produced by Bruna Papandrea, Jodi Matterson and Steve Hutensky for Papandrea’s production company Made Up Stories.
Papandrea has a history of collaboration with American film star Reese Witherspoon, and Mr Maggs said Witherspoon’s production company, Pacific Standard, would also be involved in the project.
“We may even have Reese Witherspoon come out while the production is being done,” he said.
Robert Connolly, whose credits include Balibo and Paper Planes, will direct the film.
It will be financed in part by Film Victoria in association with Screen Australia, and distributed by Roadshow Films in Australia and New Zealand.
Film Victoria estimated the production would bring more than $8-million into the state, including $1.2-million into regional Victoria.
It expects the 38-day shoot to create 162 jobs for Victorian crew members.
Yarriambiack Shire councillor Corinne Heintz said a major film production would be a boon for Minyip. “The town hasn’t been filmed in since The Flying Doctors, so it’s quite a pleasure to find out about this,” she said.
“I think this will be a really positive thing for the town if this movie becomes an Australian icon, as many Australian movies now do – particularly those that are filmed in the outback. People seem to be fascinated by it.
“If it becomes an icon and part of it has been filmed in Minyip, well, it’s helping put Minyip on the map more.”
The Dry is a crime mystery set in the fictional town of Kiewarra.
Protagonist Aaron Falk, to be played by Bana, is drawn into an investigation after returning home to attend the funeral of his childhood best friend, who allegedly killed his wife and child before killing himself.
Connolly said he was eager to film in a rural setting.
“I am so excited to return to regional Victoria to direct Jane Harper’s powerful detective thriller, The Dry,” he said.
“This story depends so critically on its setting here in Victoria, and Film Victoria’s support to make this happen has been invaluable.”
The Dry is due to be released in January 2020.
The Weekly Advertiser was unable to reach members of the production team for comment before going to press last night.