This document is part of the Ocean Girl Archive — Last update: 2009-01-03 — sourcemeta

Source: 1, 2
Author:Fiona Whitlock (The Age)

Lights, camera and location: hey, it’s Melbourne!

Hollywood it isn’t (Mollywood maybe?), but Melbourne’s film and television production industry is alive, robust and enjoying the boost given to the local industry by the international success of films like the legendary Shine.

“There is an explosion in demand for our films,” says Chris Warner, a veteran Melbourne film producer who is now working on a locally produced feature, Family Crackers.

Rain-swept and chilly it may be, but “Melbourne has had a reputation for well-made, serious and thoughtful films”, says Warner, and also for successful television.

"The Australian Film Corporation in December last year approved 10 films which will be made in Victoria. This is a particularly lively year.

“It’s a very busy time. Just about all the crews, equipment and facilities are being used,” says film producer Denise Patience, currently working on the feature Dead Letter Office. On Tuesday this week, there was lights-camera-action aplenty across the city, with feature films and TV in the full flight of production.

In front of the camera were: a children’s TV series, Channel 10’s Ocean Girl; an episode of Neighbours (10); the children’s show Totally Wild (10); the feature film Dead Letter Office; Sale of the Century (Channel 9); the feature film Family Crackers; a sketch for Channel 7’s Full Frontal; a Rejoice shampoo ad for Procter & Gamble shot in the You Yangs; and an episode of Channel 7’s Blue Heelers.

Ocean Girl

While many Melboune folk have been luxuriating in a warm bed, the cast and crew of this children’s TV series have travelled through the pre-dawn to Crawfords’ studios in Box Hill. The lighting guys started work at 6.45am.

By 7.30am the caterers from the Keith Fish company have fed everyone a breakfast of bacon and eggs in a marquee warmed by a gas brazier.

The adult actors, like Liz Burch, have had their make-up and hair done, while young stars Brooke Anderson and Jeffrey Walker have had any shiny spots on their face powdered. Ocean Girl, now in its fourth series, has a budget of $9.1million and will soon go in location in Port Douglas and The Great Barrier Reef. Today, however, it’s hands around the tea mug to keep warm, and dramatic acting on the set that represents the Oceanic Research Centre Australia. Forty crew and 10 cast rehearse a scene up to four times before the camera rolls.

Director Colin Budds: “This is much more complicated than adult drama!” Only five or six minutes a day are captured on film. They’ll spend six months making the 26 half-hour episodes.


One of the world’s most phenomenally successful soapies (it’s been running 12 years), based on Melbourne suburban life, is being captured in Ringwood today at the Manhattan Hotel.

Inside the pub in the Brunettes’ Bar, 30 film crew are at work. Twenty-two young extras, dressed in hotpants and microskirts and very high platform-soled boots, gyrate desperately to I’m Moving Up under disco lights in the early morning. Each one is busting to be noticed for having some magical quality amid the fake fog.

Young women who are B-list cast members are sitting around the bar’s tables wearing big hair and their best disco dresses, with overcoats and, in one case, a terry towelling bathrobe, to keep warm – in Soapieland it’s always summer. Looking as young as Dolly magazine readers, they smoke to fill in time, being careful about dislodging their lippie.

The big stars, Nicola Charles and Brett Cousins, will grip viewers of the series when they have a drink together for their Big Scene. You’ll be waiting 10 weeks to see it.

Dead Letter Office

The old galvo-rooved factory up a grotty lane (complete with resident rat) in North Melbourne is a very, very long way from Tinsel Land.

But it’s here that a $3.8 million feature film (from Andrew Knight and Steve Vizard’s Artist Services) is being meticulously filmed, with Miranda Otto as Alice in an offbeat story of love.

The set is an ingeniously re-created office, with props from Australia Post that would seem like home to postal workers from the 1950s and ’60s.

Some 45 crew are laboring away on a scene that basically has young Alice opening a letter.

To an outsider, the concentration held by everyone is extraordinary. When the assistant director calls “Quiet on the set, everyone!” you can hear the effort of people trying to breathe silently while the sound of an envelope being opened is recorded.

Blue Heelers

At the Channel 7 studios in South Melbourne, one of Australia’s top-rating, well-Logied dramas is filming.

he emphasis is on human ordinariness or “reality”. You hear that tinny banging of a locker door, and get a real sense of the cop shop’s crummy desks with folders bulging with paperwork.

On the set of the Mt Thomas Police Station, episode number 156 (which will go to air in eight weeks) is being shot in an 11-hour day by director Fiona Banks, one of four directors in a roster.

Sale of the Century

At Channel 9 in Richmond, an audience of 250 jolly ladies is laughing away, ready to have a wonderful time while they watch a favorite show being taped. Pete Smith warms them up with little jokes and comments about his lack of hair.

Then Glenn Ridge zips on to the Sale set. In a very smooth and well-practised operation, 50 crew will stage and film five episodes today, with changes of clothes by the stars, and with the audience feeling important at being in on “secret” television business.

Astonishingly, they start with episode number 3717. Sale has been going for 17 years.

Family Crackers

It’s lunch break, at 3.30pm. About 70 people are sitting happily at tables in a church hall in Williamstown, hoeing into plates piled with shepherd’s pie or macaroni cheese. The Star – Warren Mitchell – just keeps eating. He won’t be photographed, according to his contract.

This afternoon Mitchell, as an old grandpop, appears in a scene at the Morning Star Hotel, Williamstown, with grandson, played by 13-year-old Daniel Kellie, who’s been in Kit Kat and Fountain Tomato Sauce ads in a career that started at age four. The grandfather gets into fisticuffs with three skinheads who are “illustrated men” with a lot of their own tattoos.

The Star is a homy old pub and, again, there’s not an ounce of glamor or Hollywood within a very big cooee.

David Swann is the director, but as a comedian (his finest hour was The Last Laugh show then the TV series Let the Blood Run Free) he does a lot of small comic turns and face-pulling.

With a budget of $3.5 million, the film is being shot in Melbourne over eight weeks of relentless work.

Young Daniel is entertaining the visitors about his start in show business. “I was in a china shop and a bloke came rushing up to mother and she thought: ‘Oh, no. What’s Daniel broken now?’ But, he was a film agent …” The kid is bustled off back to the set, to work.