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AUSTRALIA

About The Production
Principal photography on AUSTRALIA commenced on April 30, 2007 at Strickland House in Vaucluse, New South Wales. Production then moved to the shores of Bowen, Queensland, where production and costume designer Catherine Martin and her art department, headed by supervising art director Ian Gracie and art director Karen Murphy, constructed one of the film's two massive exterior sets: the 1930s-era city of Darwin, a thriving tropical outpost in Northern Australia where Lady Sarah Ashley arrives and begins her tumultuous journey across the Outback.

"Bowen was the ideal location because we found two huge vacant lots located on the seafront by the wharf and, by some stroke of fate, the Darwin wharf and Bowen wharf face in the same direction, so we could match the light at both locations,” Martin says. The five-acre set, built over ten weeks, included a two-story pub, a Chinatown area, period telegraph poles and street lighting, dirt roads and extensive re-dressing of existing buildings to ensure these structures blended in with the fabricated elements. "At first we felt challenged by the fact that Darwin is on an escarpment and our Bowen set is flat,” says Martin. "However, this allowed us to condense all the elements of Darwin into a smaller geographical area, and still convey a sense of scale, depth and atmosphere in bringing the town to life.”

Filming in Bowen wrapped on June 28 and the production headed to the "Top End,” the northernmost part of the Northern Territory, to shoot in Darwin itself. Luhrmann utilized the unique tides along the wharf area for filming scenes of Sarah's arrival in Darwin, as well as action sequences that take place in the aftermath of a devastating attack on the town by Japanese bombers.

After moving to Sydney for a few weeks of shooting on soundstages at Fox Studios Australia, the company traveled to the remote East Kimberley region of Western Australia, where production headquartered in Kununurra. Access roads were forged and country roads were graded so that huge containers of materials and supplied could be trucked into Carlton Hill, an isolated location 60 kilometers outside of Kununurra, where Martin and her team built Faraway Downs, Sarah's ramshackle homestead situated on a sprawling cattle ranch in the middle of the vast, inhospitable wilderness.

Luhrmann, Martin and cinematographer Mandy Walker used a combination of digital technology and extensive location scouts at Carlton Hill to construct the perfect relationship between the homestead set, the landscape and the light. As Martin explains: "After finding the location, we had the environment scanned and we then built a digital model of the house, which we moved around until we found the perfect spot. This did not, however, excise the need for lengthy scouts to the actual location, where Baz paced out every scene to ensure the distances the actors needed to cover were dramatically correct. There is also a large Boab tree in the front of the homestead, which is a key element in the composition. We spent a lot of time spacing it out to determine how big the tree should be and how far away from the house it should be positioned.”

Martin relished the challenge of bringing Luhrmann's vision of Faraway Downs to life. "I loved working with set decorator Beverley Dunn and our team to achieve the major textural changes the homestead undergoes from the dilapidated state we first see it in, to the green oasis it eventually becomes,” she relates. "The house had to be a character in both of its incarnations. It was logistically difficult to accomplish this transformation, but ultimately very satisfying.”

To underscore this transition, Walker infused scenes of Sarah's initial arrival at Faraway Downs with dark, dusty red tones, and then shifted to a white, light and airy look as the environment changes in concer

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