About The Production (Continued)
Julie Hamilton as Minam Barron - a Mum way out of her depth, but struggling to do the right thing; Tim Robertson as the evasive Dad, Gilbert Barron; Dan Wyllie, Paul Goddard and Sophie Lee (MURIEL'S WEDDING, THE CASTLE) as Ruth's brothers and sister-in-law; Jane selected a cast who would hold their own alongside the international actors in HOLY SMOKE.
'I've heard the Barton family described as dysfunctional and, yes, they are, but no more than most families I'm aware of. If you don't think of your own family, you will certainly think of the one you know.'
'The thing about Australian actors is they don't back down. There's a real renaissance in Australian acting at the moment. They won't
be psyched out and you could be psyched out by someone of Harvey's stature as an actor very easily. They have an energy as well as an anarchy.
To this eclectic mix, Jane added cult American actress Pam Grier of recent JACKIE BROWN fame, as Carol, P.J.'s professional partner and lover, who flies in late only to be appalled at the danger
P.J. has placed his young client in.
'Having cast Pam Grier we realized she has an input beyond even her ability as an actor. She's an icon, and an absolutely brilliant human being. She's someone who has a sense of what life is about quite beyond the everyday.'
Producer and director began assembling a team that included the seasoned collaborator and Oscar nominated Janet Patterson as production designer, with Australian cinematographer Dion Beebe as a new collaborator.
'The desert was to be like another character in the film: a powerful omnipresence that disallows escape, with a hostility to that as well as an incredible beauty. Throughout the film, there are these moments where the human drama is made to look infinitesimally tiny against that backdrop, where you get a profound sense of 'greater than thou.'
'That said, landscape is hard to capture on film. Many aspects of it don't read very
well, it's extraordinary the alteration that occurs. But when Dion Beebe (cinematographer) joined us on our location scouts he brought such an uncluttered feel for it. He helped us simplify the vision.'
'We found many great references on our location scouts. What people do to express
themselves in real life is so rich and original. For example, the script specified little putting greens for Bill-Bill. Then one night, we cruised past the local golf course and they had Putting Blacks - tarred black because the grass won't grow. Wonderful.'
The thirteen week shoot began with a six week shoot based out of the tiny South Australian town of Hawker (population 800) located in the Hinders Ranges. Here, the production team came to be known by the locals as 'the drought breakers' for the fact that uncharacteristically, it rained on and on, turning locations to red and yellow mud, creating constant work for the art department and long waits for a production dependent on a hot desert look.
'The Flinders Ranges shoot was physically hard, with long distances between locations, dusty difficult roads freezing temperatures and constant rain when it wasn't supposed to be raining. It was wild, strange, dirty - but beautiful. I have to say, that the extreme beauty of the place tended to overpower the stresses. Dion did a wonderful job of capturing
those figures in that brutal majestic landscape: the colours, the light, the scale..'
After Hawker, came the Sydney component of the shoot, concentrated mainly in the studio, often on a closed set, where Jane filmed the interiors of the Half-Way Hut (disassembled
and transported from the Flinders, to be rebuilt in the studio), where the most emotionally intense and finely calibrated drama occurs between Ruth and
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