Minyip film boon

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY COLIN MACGIL­LIVRAY

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.

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