Have you ever travelled to see the places featured in film? Perhaps you were inspired to see Iceland or Greenland after watching Ben Stiller’s character in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty or perhaps dining at London’s Tapas Brindisa Soho after seeing it in the BBC’s version of Sherlock. But what about considering something a little closer to home and supporting your local cities and local film industry.
Last week I was fortunate enough to spend a day with the director, producer, actors and crew in the Yarra Valley, the setting of Kasimir Burgess’ debut full-length film Fell.
The film, a poignant drama that explores loss, grief, vengeance, redemption and love slowly unravels the story of city dweller Thomas (Matt Nable) whose daughter is killed after being hit by a logging truck driven by Luke (Daniel Henshall) who flees the scene of the crime, before being caught and jailed. Seeking revenge, Thomas moves out to the area to become a logger working side-by-side with Like, all while flirting with the idea of revenge.
It sounds a little macabre, and does have its moments, but the film has a subtle beauty through picture and minimalistic approach to dialogue, favouring natural sounds and actions to guide viewers.
After watching the film at the Melbourne International Film Festival, its debut was the week prior in Sydney, it’s hard to image we were in the same place as the heavy and emotive cinematography featured in the film as the van rushed through the Yarra Valley, passing green pastures on what was a near perfect sunny winters day.
It only seemed appropriate that we shared a meal with director Kasimir, producer Mary Minas, actor Daniel Henshall, 2nd assistant cameraman Jensen Cope and local wood chopper Brett Robin at the esteemed Rochford Winery.
Graham Taylor, owner of the vineyard, was one of the people responsible for helping connect the crew with local loggers and businesses in the area, as well as convincing Brett to take part in the film.
Our table was filled with fresh crunchy bread, heaving antipasto plates (the frittata are amazing!) before our mains quickly followed. I chose, predictably, the chicken though the beed and fish dishes were Instagram worthy.
Much of the filming took place in Warburton and its surrounds, just a 20 minute drive away, or “just over there,” as Brett gestured towards the hills and tree line just past the properties boundaries.
Kasimir had earlier explained the reason why he chose the area; “My girlfriend suggested that I go and check out Warburton and I fell in love quite quickly. It was probably a year and a half before we started filming but I’d started to look for rather specific locations and angles.”
As we headed back downstairs for dessert, Kasimir and Daniel gave our small group some more insight into what it was like working with the local community in Warburton.
Kasimir expanded, “It was a matter of observing and taking away details. I’d come back with photos that I’d covertly taken and stories of this and that, that we ended up incorporating into the story to bring as much authenticity as we could to the world.”
“The actor logging crew also spent time out in the area where they fell trees. We got to know the loggers and gained a great insight as to who they are and where they come from, it was good fun,” Daniel shared.
While the film has a darker undertone the notes of redemption and love are ever present, and love of the area is still evident when you watch the crew catch up and share tales of their time together. Haunted pubs, bogged in the middle of the woods, watching the tree climbers climb giants, and the shock of the lock loggers when they realised that the crew weren’t just city folk and knew a little about the secrets of the forest. Also, it was just nice to be interacting with the crew in the area that movie had been produced but to see it from a completely different light than what is showcased on screen.
For cinema lovers Fell is a must see, as an amazing piece of cinematography and definitely one of the better Australian films I’ve seen recently, but I’m not expert; trust the reviews of Garry Maddox (SMH) and Rebecca Lehmann (The Hollywood Reporter). With screenings happening throughout September in Healesville and Warburton why not make a day-trip or a weekend out of it. Have a taste of the country and get a feel for the setting before seeing the film, and appreciating the area in a new way.
If you can’t make it to Healesville or Warburton, do head to Rochford Winery in the Yarra Valley. Alongside the adventure activities – including segway tour that Daniel enjoyed way too much! – Isabella’s at Rochford offers delicious restaurant and cafe options overlooking the grounds of the winery and the further out into the forests “just over there.“
Now it’s over to you
Have you travelled to places your favourite films were set?
Are you a fan of art house or indie films?
- • ACMI, Melbourne – 21 August to the 27 September
- • Healesville, VIC – 21 August to the 26 August
- • Warburton, VIC- 28 August to the 2 September
- • Dungog, NSW – 30 August