Winners and Losers, Stage 3
Inside Film’s Jackie Keast examines why Docklands Studios appeals to smaller productions.
Read More: IF Issue #177 Jun-Jul 2017
Staying true to its goal of supporting emerging filmmakers, Docklands Studios recently welcomed debut writer-director John Fraser and his independently financed Choir Girl.
Shot in black and white, Choir Girl is the story of a lonely photographer obsessed with a teenage prostitute being controlled by an underworld criminal. It stars Peter Flaherty (The Leftovers), Roger Ward (Mad Max), Krista Vendy (Neighbours), Andy McPhee (Ali’s Wedding), Kym Valentine (Neighbours), Jack Campbell (All Saints), and VCA graduate Sarah Timm.
With a budget of around $600,000, Choir Girl made the most of its month-long stint in Sound Stage 4, constructing two main sets of a hotel then converting these into an apartment. Even the overhead gantry and production offices featured in scenes, according to producer Ivan Malekin of Nexus Production Group. “If we were going out and trying to find all these locations we’d be constantly moving and that takes a lot of money and a lot of effort. So being at Docklands actually allowed us to save money. You wouldn’t think so with a massive studio but it made the production more efficient.”
Fraser completed the gritty urban look at various Melbourne landmarks including Pentridge Prison and St Kilda’s Oslo Hotel.
During their time at Docklands the cast and crew of Choir Girl rubbed shoulders with a number of larger productions, including the Spierig Brothers’ Winchester, starring Helen Mirren.
“It adds a certain level of legitimacy and excitement to the production when you’re rolling up to work at Docklands every morning – you get a good energy in the air,” said Malekin.
It’s a long way from a prison cell in Indonesia to Docklands Studios Melbourne. Yet here in a brightly lit sound stage a film crew has been recreating the final days of Myuran Sukumaran, an Australian drug trafficker executed in Indonesia on April 29, 2015.
In an intimate set dwarfed by the vast space, actor Adam McConvell channels a frenetic Sukumaran, painting his final artworks as he awaits the firing squad.
Around the set are tangible connections to Sukumaran – five of his paintings were loaned to the production by his family. Christie Buckingham, Sukumaran’s real life spiritual adviser, represents herself in these final scenes and debut director Matthew Sleeth befriended Sukumaran while running art classes in Bali’s Kerobokan Prison alongside Archibald Prize winner Ben Quilty.
These scenes inside the cells, filmed over five days, are what producer and co-writer Maggie Miles describes as “the soul of the piece”, adding “it was only a dream that we could film at Docklands Studios Melbourne. [CEO Rod Allan] was really supportive and we’re very grateful for his belief in the project”.
These creative scenes will be edited with archival footage of Sukumaran’s case and that of fellow Bali Nine prisoner Andrew Chan, interviews, and footage from a posthumous exhibition of Sukumaran’s work held as part of the Sydney Festival last January at Campbelltown Arts Centre.
The team behind this hybrid film, working title Guilty, hope to engage with people who believe the death penalty is an appropriate punishment. Miles says it comes with a great sense of responsibility. “We’re conscious of handling and managing a story which belongs to others and is incredibly sensitive in many ways.”
Guilty will debut at the Adelaide Film Festival in October.
The team from Guilty includes director and co-writer Matthew Sleeth, producer and co-writer Maggie Miles (The Turning), co-writer Matthew Bate (Shut Up Little Man) and script consultant Andrew Bovell (Lantana). The executive producers are Robert Connolly (Paper Planes) and Rebecca Summerton (Sam Klemke’s Time Machine).
Guilty has been supported by HIVE (a collaboration between Adelaide Film Festival, ABC Arts, Screen Australia, and Australia Council), Good Pitch, Film Victoria, and private investment.
It’s not every day The Fastest Man Alive appears in one of our sound stages.
On this occasion, Usain Bolt came by to shoot an ad campaign for Optus. With the Olympic champion on a tight schedule, the ad makers built a series of bespoke and green and blue screen sets, to move Bolt efficiently through takes.
The series of 5 to 45 second TVC’s by creative agency The Works and production company Emotive, were designed to showcase the Optus 4G Plus network.
With the slogan “Ever Wondered What Life is Like at the Speed of Bolt?”, the campaign taps into the fun side of Bolt’s personality, showing him sprinting as the ground explodes, watching soccer on his phone and dancing to music.
Shot entirely at Docklands Studios, the campaign builds on the telco’s relationship with Bolt who starred in the 2016 “Relentless” campaign.
An Australian film found a unique way to save time and money while shooting at Docklands Studios Melbourne – making some of the sets from cardboard.
Like most indie productions, the sci-fi action feature, The Wheel sought a big look on a limited budget. The challenge was to build a 15-metre-long concrete corridor for the story about a paraplegic inmate who becomes a ‘lab rat’ in a scientific experiment.
The corridor had to match the concrete interior of the Hoppers Crossing Pumping Station outside Melbourne, where other scenes were being filmed. The producers flinched at quotes for building the set with the usual materials such as plywood, steel or cement, and even considered omitting the corridor scenes.
Enter Liam McLachlan – the 20-year-old son of the movie’s Director Dee McLachlan – who knows a thing or two about cardboard. Since age 13, Liam has been obsessed with Boxwars, a hobby where people construct elaborate costumes and props for themed battles in public parks.
Having built armour, weapons and four-wheeled vehicles from cardboard, designing a corridor was all in a day’s fun for Liam. Under the direction of production designer Robert Webb, Liam used an open source computer program called Blender to create a 3D-model where he could place a virtual camera inside the world of the set.
“Everyone was incredibly sceptical that it would ever work. I think we slowly convinced them, and once we did a trial day, which showed them what it would look like, Rob, the designer was instantly sold. He loved it,” Mclachlan said.
The build took less than two weeks, with McLachlan working alongside close friends and fellow Boxwars enthusiasts, Will Burgin Stevenson and Noah Burdekin. A hot glue gun was used to put the panels together. “That stuff is amazing, it dries in about 30 seconds, and it’s cheap!” Scenic artists then came in to complete the concrete bunker effect.
The cardboard is recyclable and surprisingly strong, according to McLachlan. “If you put it vertically it holds a lot of weight as long as you have the correct angle. So every sheet of cardboard is one and a half metres wide and you have four triangle struts at right angles, and the roof sat on top of that.”
Naturally there are limits to the amount of pressure cardboard can withstand. Three other sets for the movie – a board room, a control room and a ‘steel’ room – were built from timber, steel and plywood or a combination of these materials.
The cost of cardboard is a fraction – Liam estimates around one tenth – of other commonly used building materials. Other cost savings were found by shooting at Docklands Studios, according to The Wheel producers Veronica Sive and Silvio Salom. “Regardless of the external conditions, in the stage we could shoot 10 hour days on the various sets. With two cameras rolling on one particular day we managed 88 set ups,” said Sive.
As for the cardboard sets, McLachlan might have just stumbled on a winning business idea. Completing a Bachelor of Science at Melbourne University majoring, not surprisingly, in physics, McLachlan has already been contacted by at least one other screen production, while the producers of The Wheel hope to use his skills in their next movie later this year.
McLachlan concedes The Wheel may not be the first time cardboard have appeared on screen – the long-running TV series Doctor Who comes to mind. But he adds, “some of those sets looked so cheap and obviously made out of cardboard. This is the first time it’s been done well!”
The Wheel is produced by Veronica Sive and Silvio Salom of SunJive Studios and directed by Dee McLachlan (Out of the Shadows, The Jammed). It stars David Arquette (Scream) alongside Jackson Gallagher (Patrick, Home and Away) and Kendal Rae (Out of the Shadows, The Shannara Chronicles).
It tells the story of a paraplegic inmate (Jackson’s Matt Mills) forced to take part in a scientific experiment that will give him use of his legs. Dr Emmett Snyder (Arquette) along with Dr Allison Turner (Rae) push Mills to breaking point, as he fights off a succession of assailants, mysteriously becoming stronger.
You can see more of Liam McLachlan’s work at: https://pictank.wixsite.com/mysite-1
“A little bit weird and a little bit different” is how showrunner Damon Lindelof describes Melbourne.
Fairfax film writer Karl Quinn talks to Berlin Syndrome director Cate Shortland about piecing together a film shot on opposites sides of the globe.
We’ve started the year on a high note, with all five sounds stages fully booked.
Among the productions is The Wheel, directed by Melbourne filmmaker Dee McLachlan (The Jammed) and featuring Hollywood actor David Arquette, who starred in the 1990’s Scream franchise.
Arquette joins Victorian actors Jackson Gallagher (Home and Away) and Kendal Rae (Out of the Shadows) in the independently financed feature set in the near future where prisoners are the subjects of scientific experiments.
Producer Silvio Salom said “The Wheel is the first of a slate of films that SunJive Studios is embarking on in a privately funded business model aimed at creating a sustainable flow of productions in Victoria. Docklands Studios has been extremely accommodating allowing us to create a film look that is many times the actual budget”.
Victoria’s Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley, visited the set of The Wheel on April 6, declaring that the production boom was “a sign of the strength, and diversity, of Victoria’s screen sector”.
Also on the lot, another local project, Choir Girl is underway. The low budget thriller, starring former Neighbours regulars Krista Vendy and Kym Valentine, tells the story of a lonely photographer who becomes obsessed with a 15 year old girl.
And a feature length documentary Guilty, has taken over a sound stage for a two week shoot. The film marks the directorial debut of Melbourne artist Matthew Sleeth and details the final 72 hours in the life of Myuran Sukamaran of the ‘Bali Nine’.
Other sound stages are occupied by Winchester and Channel Nine’s live audience programs, The AFL Footy Show and Millionaire Hot Seat.
Anthony Galloway, State Political Reporter for the Herald Sun joined Victoria’s Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley on a visit to our sound stages.
Victoria’s scenic landscapes and some Melbourne landmarks will flash across U.S. screens in April, when HBO launches the third season of The Leftovers.
With leading character Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) at large in Australia for this final series, the official trailer provides glimpses of Victoria’s vast open spaces, the red dirt roads of the outback, and Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay with the iconic West Gate Bridge in the background.
The city’s trademark graffiti lane ways and 19th century State Library reading room are part of the backdrop as Garvey deals with impending doom foretold by the words “13 days to go” written in the sky.
The Leftovers, co-created by Damon Lindelof (Lost), tells of those left behind after the Sudden Disappearance of two per cent of the world’s population.
Series one and two were filmed in New York and Texas respectively, with the producers choosing Victoria for the final eight episodes which shift the story to Australia. The series used Docklands Studios sound stages, construction workshop and various production offices during a three month stay in 2016.
The Leftovers will screen on HBO on April 16 and Foxtel Australia on April 20.
Ahead of the release of director Cate Shortland’s stylish new psychological thriller, here’s a peek inside the Docklands Studios set of the Berlin apartment where much of the action takes place.
Berlin Syndrome movie poster (Source: Entertainment One Films ANZ)
A team led by production designer Melinda Doring created the apartment where Andi (Max Riemelt) keeps Clare (Teresa Palmer) captive over several months after they meet on the streets of Berlin.
The designers matched these interiors, as well as a specially built facade, with exteriors of a real Berlin apartment block that Doring and Shortland identified on an earlier visit to the German city. Filming was split between Berlin and Melbourne during 2015.
Doring’s team, which included Stephen Speth in Berlin and Janie Parker in Melbourne, captured the look and feel of a rundown East Berlin apartment block, right down to light fixtures brought in from Berlin and details on the small, double glazed windows that help keep Clare imprisoned.
Festival screenings at Sundance, Berlin and Glasgow indicate the film, produced by Polly Staniford, is set to be a hit with both audiences and critics.
The sets have already garnered one gong – the Docklands Studios Best Set Trophy for 2015!
Berlin Syndrome is scheduled for worldwide theatrical release in April.
(Photo credits: Ben King with kind permission from Aquarius Films)
We’re thrilled to have Helen Mirren working her Academy Award winning magic in our sound stages.
It was announced on March 15 that principal photography had commenced on the supernatural thriller Winchester, in which Mirren plays the starring role.
Mirren plays firearm heiress Sarah Winchester, who was convinced she was haunted by the souls killed at the hands of the Winchester repeating rifle.
Alongside Mirren, who won an Oscar for The Queen, the film stars Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Zero Dark Thirty), Sarah Snook (The Dressmaker, The Glass Castle), and Angus Sampson (Insidious, Fargo).
Producer Tim McGahan (Blacklab Entertainment) and writer-director twins Michael and Peter Spierig are on a return visit to Docklands Studios Melbourne – they were here in 2013 making the Ethan Hawke thriller, Predestination.
Winchester will shoot later in the year on location at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California.
You never know where a chance encounter will lead you in life – just ask Ross Murdoch. Back in 2000 he was a house carpenter having a quiet drink in a pub when he struck up a conversation with a stranger, who happened to be a set painter on a popular kids’ TV series, Saddle Club. Murdoch went away with the phone number of the series’ art director and within days found himself on set building horse stables.
Fast forward to 2017 and Murdoch is one of the busiest construction managers in Victoria’s film industry. He’s in charge of sets for the new sci-fi thriller Stem, by writer-director Leigh Whannell, who’s back home in Melbourne after a big splash in Hollywood with Insidious and Saw.
In the cavernous workshop at Docklands Studios – a former maintenance depot for the Port of Melbourne – Murdoch leads a 25-strong crew creating a world in the near future where technology controls almost everything. Stem is the story of a paralyzed technophobe using an experimental computer chip to avenge his wife’s murder.
As trucks rumble in with building materials and machinery, Murdoch pauses to reflect on a career spanning two dozen film and TV productions, building sets or heading construction. Highlights include an elaborate old London street scene for the Gold Coast shoot of Peter Pan (2003) and a dilapidated Mexican church for the Docklands shoot of Ghost Rider (2007). For the West Australian shoot of Red Dog: True Blue (2016), Murdoch created an underground cave filled with water. On a tight budget and a fast turnaround his team sculpted the cave from concrete in Perth and trucked it in sections to the filming location where it was sealed and filled with water.
Murdoch’s longest project was the $200 million blockbuster The Pacific (2007-08), at the time the most expensive mini-series ever made. As second in charge of construction, Murdoch spent six months in tropical far north Queensland crafting bloody battle scenes from World War Two. Then came five months based at Docklands Studios, including the re-creation of 1940’s Melbourne in the city’s CBD for the dramatic re-enactment of US troops arriving in town.
Along the way, he had a stint on the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta, running a fleet of 80 trucks transporting crew and equipment for the ambitious World War Z (2013) – a job he rates as his most stressful to date.
“Murdoch seems to thrive on tight timelines and budgets, along with the pattern of working feverishly for weeks on end.”
Over the years, Murdoch’s steady-as-a-rock persona has served him well in the high-pressure world of film – 12 to 13 hour days crafting sets, adding finishing touches as the cast and crew move in, while making every dollar count. “When we start a shoot, I’ll discuss ideas with the art department and they’ll get their people to start drawing things up. That’s when I start costing things, trying to justify each expense to the art director.”
These days Murdoch spends most of his time in his hometown Melbourne, and has been a familiar face at Docklands since it opened in 2004, on productions such as Where The Wild Things Are (2009), Predestination (2014) and Childhood’s End (2015). As sets take shape in the workshop, Murdoch has created a family atmosphere among the tight knit crew. His wife, Jess Rogers, coordinates travel and transport while their Blue Heeler, Zissou, greets visitors with a friendly lick.
Murdoch seems to thrive on tight timelines and budgets, along with the pattern of working feverishly for weeks on end interspersed with down time. With the Stem shoot close to wrapping up, he and Jess are looking to grab a quick break before the next project comes along. In April, he’ll be keeping an eye on the small screen for the launch of Season 3 of The Leftovers. Murdoch was construction manager on the acclaimed mini-series, shot at Docklands Studios and around Melbourne during 2016.
Bringing filmmakers’ visions to life is an unexpected career path for a bloke who used to knock together house frames. So, what about the guy he met in the pub all those years ago? Well, fate has brought them back together, making sets for Stem. “If it wasn’t for him, I’d probably still be building kitchens,” Murdoch laughs.
(Staff writer Belinda Tromp spoke to Ross Murdoch in March 2016)
Fairfax Media reports that the Australian film industry has started 2017 on a high.
“Saw” co-creator Leigh Whannell returns home for his latest production, as Fairfax Media looks back on his brilliant career.
Hollywood producer Eugene Kelly – a long-time fan of Docklands Studios – sat down with Fairfax business reporter Lucy Battersby to explain the appeal of working in Melbourne.
A staff writer for If Magazine recently reported that two television series – Tomorrow When the War Began and Jack Irish together with feature film, The Berlin Syndrome – have recently finished filming at the Studios and are now in post-production for release next year.
Oct 10, 2015 Journalist, Steve Dow for The Saturday Paper writes a long feature on acclaimed director Jocelyn Moorhouse’s return from the US because family was more important than the Hollywood machine. And how finally The Dressmaker came to fruition and was filmed in rural Victoria and at Docklands Studios.
Read More: Jocelyn Moorhouse and ‘The Dressmaker’
Aug – Sept 2015 If Magazine covers the benefits of a Melbourne-based studio shoot at Docklands Studios, a facility that is slowly changing industry perceptions that it is only for big budget Hollywood projects. The article highlights a variety of projects shot at the Studios recently and emphasises the advantages of weather proof buildings, on-demand technical services, office space, parking, art department and storage facilities all contained on the Studio lot.
Read More: Docklands Delivers Mixed Slate
Oct – Nov 2015 If Magazine covers the evolution of The Dressmaker from page to screen with its producer, Sue Maslin and director, Jocelyn Moorhouse. In the article, Director of Photography, Don McAlpine says, “We did some of it in the studio, (Docklands Studios Melbourne) more or less at my insistence, where you are protected from the weather and you can spend more hours working instead of travelling.”
Read More: Revenge is back in Fashion
National Film Editor, Karl Quinn reports for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald on the performance of Victoria”s screen sector being “Shaken, not stirred in the 2014-15”. He reports that Melbourne”s Docklands Studios had a “good year” and covers highlights of other Creative Victoria screen entity”s including ACMI and Film Victoria.
The International Business Times reports on the upcoming premiere of The Dressmaker shot at Docklands Studios Melbourne and on location in Victoria. Director, Jocelyn Moorhouse; producer, Sue Maslin and stars including Liam Hemsworth, Judy Davis and Hugo Weaving expected to attend.
National Film Editor, Karl Quinn reports for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald on how the makers of the recently released and hugely popular family feature film, Oddball managed to make a successful movie featuring both animals and children. The scenes of fairy penguins and children on the beach at night were shot on a coastline and beach set at Docklands Studios Melbourne.
The Age features time lapse video of set construction at Docklands Studios Melbourne for Oddball.
View video: Time lapse video
Michael Bodey for The Australian’s Reel Time column reports on Director, Jocelyn Moorhouse’s adaptation of Rosalie Ham’s bestselling novel, The Dressmaker commencing filming at Docklands Studios. Kate Winslet, Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving and Judy Davis will star in the film.
Don Groves for If magazine writes about The Dressmaker, a tale of love revenge and haute couture shooting at Docklands Studios. The ensemble cast includes Kerry Fox, Sarah Snook, Shane Jacobsen, Rebecca Gibney, Shane Bourne, Caroline Goodall, Alison Whyte, Sacha Horler and Genevieve Lemon.
Jonathon Moran for The Daily Telegraph’s Sydney Confidential reports that Oscar-winning star Kate Winslet is in Australia for the filming of The Dressmaker at Docklands Studios Melbourne and on location in Victoria in the Wimmera. The film willalso star Liam Hemsworth, Judy Davis and Hugo Weaving.
Sarah Thomas, entertainment writer for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age hints at explores some of the Sci-Fi themes sure to excite audiences of the newest production, Childhood’s End shooting at Docklands Studios during its 10th Anniversary year.
The Australian’s media and entertainment writer, Michael Bodey highlights in his column that US science fiction television miniseries based on the Arthur C. Clarke novel, Childhood’s End is filming at Docklands Studios Melbourne.
Don Groves for If magazine releases news that the 13-week shoot for Childhood’s End will take place at Docklands Studios and on location around Melbourne. The series will debut on the US Syfy network next year.
FilmInk publisher, Don Kornits explains from the film perspective why Melbourne is considered Australia”s cultural hub. He touches on the State Government”s support for the local industry, MIFF, Open Channel, Docklands Studios, Melbourne”s collegiate atmosphere and Victoria”s talent pool.
Read More: Focus on Melbourne – Victoria”s Secrets
IF magazine”s social pages capture guests who attended Docklands Studio”s 10th Anniversary including: local actor, Jane Turner; producer, Anthony Ginnane; the Hon. Minister Louise Asher; US-based director, Rod Hardy; producer, Paul Currie and visiting actors Ben Lioyd-Hughes and Kaya Scodelaro.
Emily Webb writing for the Leader community newspaper and Herald Sun online lists up 10 international films made in Melbourne including Ghost Rider, Knowing, Killer Elite and Where the Wild Things Are that were all filmed in part at Docklands Studios.
The Australian, ‘Arts’ Reel Time column by Michael Bodey reports on the wrapping of The Moon and The Sun filming at Docklands Studios Melbourne and the departure of its star, Pierce Brosnan.
Read more: The Australian, ‘Arts’ Reel Time article
Karl Quinn, National Film Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reports on the historical fantasy, The Moon and The Sun being shot at Docklands Studios Melbourne. The article focuses on one of the film’s stars, Fan Bingbing and her amazing fame in her native China where the film industry is booming.
Karl Quinn, National Film Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age covers Oscar-winning actor William Hurt’s role as Pere La Chaise in the Australian-Chinese co-production The Moon and The Sun filming at Docklands Studios Melbourne.
Read more: William Hurt shoots for the Moon (and the Sun)
Luke Dennehy for Confidential in The Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun covers Pierce Brosnan’s movements around Melbourne while filming The Moon and The Sun at Docklands Studios.
Confidential for Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph reports on Docklands Studio’s 10th Anniversary featuring the Victorian Minister for Innovation, Services and Small Business, Louise Asher MP and actor/writer, Jane Turner, cutting the Studios’ birthday cake.
Read more: Lights, Camera Action for Party
Karl Quinn, National Film Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age goes on set with producers of The Moon and The Sun, Paul Currie and Bill Mechanic, to discover the mermaid’s grotto and recreated Versailles interiors now filming at Docklands Studios Melbourne.
Karl Quinn, National Film Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age covers Docklands Studios Melbourne’s 10-year anniversary.
Empire magazine’s, Travis Sheridan reports on various film and television projects based at Docklands Studios over the past decade contributing more than half a billion dollars into the Victorian economy.
Read more: A Decade of “Action” article
Michael Bodey for The Australian ‘Arts’ talks to Rod Allan CEO, Docklands Studios about the Studio’s history and its current status serving a broader range of screen industry clients.
Read more: Docklands Studios makes it to 10 Years
Docklands News provides a potted history of the Studios located in the suburb of Docklands, only five minutes from the centre of the city.
Read more: Happy 10th Birthday Docklands Studios
David Knox of TV Blog, TV Tonight covers Docklands Studios Melbourne’s 10 year history.
Docklands Studios Turns 10
Read more: Docklands Studios Turns 10
If magazine Editor, Emily Blatchford interviews Rod Allan CEO, Docklands Studios Melbourne and covers the Studios’ 10 year history of TV and film production, facility enhancements and future plans.
Read more: IF Magazine Apr May 2014
Karl Quinn, National Film Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reports on the star line-up, production expenditure and employment opportunities created by fantasy-feature film, The Moon and The Sun filming at Docklands Studios Melbourne in the first half of 2014.
Read more: Sun rises on Brosnan Australian film shoot
Journalist, Peter Barrett for Melbourne Magazine takes a full tour of the Studios including a visit to the set of Channel Seven’s, Winners & Losers. This story showcases the Studio facility with its.