Feature film for Barker

By Chris Thomson | posted on September 13, 2018

A FULL-BLOWN feature film, possibly starring Sam Neill, who played devilish Damien in The Omen, or Michael Caton, who played underdog dad Darryl Kerrigan in The Castle, will be shot in Mount Barker over coming months.

The close-knit Great Southern town is abuzz at the prospect of rubbing shoulders with the stars, with film crew already on site in pre-production mode, and the Plantagenet Players thespian group to audition extras this weekend.

Shire of Plantagenet CEO Rob Stewart confirmed the movie would be shot under the working title Rams, a comedy/ drama about two feuding brothers who try to outsmart the government to preserve their family’s legacy after a town’s sheep flocks are threatened by a rare disease.

“They are in town now setting up,” Mr Stewart said of the film’s crew.

“They are asking us for goodwill and support and have indicated that for safety there may be some times when we need to temporarily close a road.

“One of the big parts of the film is the fire scene and they’ve been working with [us] to find a site just out of town that would be able to be burned for that scene.”

Mr Stewart said the Rams crew had already started moving into the Plantagenet Lesser Hall they will occupy for the duration of the shoot.

“It’s at least as big as Breath [also shot in the Great Southern], and it is based on a Scandinavian film of the same name,” he said.

“One of my staff was told yesterday they might use his sheep dog for certain scenes.

“They’ve got a trained one but the one here looks better.”

Asked if a feature film had been shot in town before, Mr Stewart, who has been in Mt Barker for 17 years, quipped: “Only the chook ad; I think that’s the closest we’ve ever come”.

A Screen Australia document seen by The Weekender says Rams will be a drama/comedy flick featuring Neill, Caton and Golden Globe winner Brenda Blethyn, and directed by Jeremy Sims, who was born in Perth.

But Perth-based Aidan O’Bryan – who with Janelle Landers is producing the picture for a company called WBMC – said those actors and Sims could not be guaranteed.

Due to organisational constraints upon him ahead of an official announcement, O’Bryan was tight-lipped on the cast and on whether Rams would be the final title.

But he did say Mt Barker was chosen from an international field of locations due mainly to Plantagenet’s natural beauty, welcoming people, and the town’s relevance to the theme of the movie and proximity to Albany Airport.

He said producers and crew would shoot the movie around town until Christmas.

Plantagenet Players is hosting a casting call this Saturday between 2pm and 4pm, and Sunday from 10am to noon at the Plantagenet District Hall.

A recent body-length head and shoulders shot is required, and can be brought along or taken on the day.

Mount Barker Visitor Centre volunteer Glenys Ecclestone said she expected a fair bit of buzz when the production ramped up.

“There will be a lot of extra people here, and they’re looking for different people to take part in it,” she said.

“It’s quite a big thing for little Mt Barker.”