Cast against type as a romantic lead, Bryan Brown is spending
four weeks on an isolated tropical beach with a beautiful woman
less than half his age, reading other people’s mail and
building sand castles. As the sun sets in an orange spectacle and
stars begin to sparkle in the balmy evening, Brown grins;
"There’s nothing I can complain about."
wanna whinge….look at all this." Bryan
Yeah, well, that’s all very well for Bryan, but he’s
handsome, famous, fit and forty something. Your reporter is still
wheezing after a harrowing 15 minutes in a 4WD over a rocky
so-called road in the bush, followed by a 20 minute hike up a
steep track, down a steep track and across slippery rocks on the
beach, to reach the location of the main unit.
The crew do this every day, so do the stars. Nobody complains;
but then as Bryan Brown says over a dinner of green chicken
curry, sitting on a cuple of logs, "You wouldn’t wanna
whinge….look at all this." He flicks his eyes around.
The horseshoe bay is lapping gently as the setting sun is
drenching the designer-scattered clouds and sea in orange. A
gentle breeze cools my fiery brow. The crew is assembled on
assorted logs for dinner while in the make shift make up tent,
Paul Pattison’s music system is currently working through a
Jimmy Hendrix tape – and as incongruous as it may sound, it
works. (Pattison won the Oscar for his make up in Braveheart.)
Brown, playing Walter the flying postman who has crash landed
into the Pacific with his passenger Claudia, played by Aleksandra
Vujcic (Broken English), points out that he has played romantic
leads before, most importantly in his breakthrough role in A Town
"Bryan Brown was an
obvious choice for a leading man, but not an obvious choice
for Walter," director/writer
But this time, it’s not just romantic, but comic
romantic; and he’s loving it. Playing the 40-something
Walter, Brown is the marquee name that will help raise the
profile of this mid-budget romantic comedy that is the debut
feature for young writer/director Chris Cudlipp.
"Bryan Brown was an obvious choice for a leading man, but
not an obvious choice for Walter," says Cudlipp.
"He’s cast against type and that’s exciting.
He’s not playing a role he normally plays. It’s a
comedy role and a character who’s not completely self
confident – Bryan usually plays pretty up front characters.
He’s just a had ball with it and it’s certainly
something I’ve never seen before from him."
"I was captivated by
her" Cudlipp on
Cudlipp had tested a number of actresses before choosing
Vujcic, who he had seen in Broken English. "I was captivated
by her – everything she did in that was so edgy, and even
though it was an intense drama, I just thought she had that
energy that would work well in romantic comedy."
Cudlipp, a tv commercials director, began the screenplay just
over three years ago, and approached a number of producers with
it. Jim McElroy took an interest in it just about the time it won
an Australian Writers Guild Award for Best Unproduced Script. It
began with a simple observation one day as Cudlipp watched a
postman empty a mailbox into a large bag. "It occurred to me
there must be some amazing stories in that bag of letters. And I
thought it was a lovely way to get into people’s hearts and
souls, without having to explore their lives and filming them. It
grew from there.
"Walter, through various circumstances, has got trapped
into his life as a postman in a small country town," says
Cudlipp, "and is at a stage where he’s saying to
himself, well, this is as good as it gets. Claudia is an exact
opposite so there is complete conflict in the characters."
"A lush setting with
abundant wildlife both on land and under the water" on Brampton Island location
Enjoying his first feature film experience –
notwithstanding the faster pace - Cudlipp is surrounded with an
experienced crew, from DoP Brian Breheny (Priscilla) to make up
artist Pattison and production designer Sally Campbell (Until the
End of the World, High Tide, The Umbrella Woman).
Queensland producer Des Power, who is attached to the project
with the assistance of the Pacific Film & Television
Commission, helped find the location with location manager Mike
McLean, after McElroy and Cudlipp had searched half the east
coast of Australia and some of the pacific islands. Recently
acquired by P&O resorts, Brampton Island, coincidentally, is
targeting the romantic, honeymoon market, and offers a lush
setting with abundant wildlife both on land and under the water.
Notable are the fleet of frolicking lorikeets who’ll steal
the sugar packs from your cappuccino saucer and the swarms of
butterflies. Kangaroos line the airstrip and koalas can be seen
on the western side. On the beach during the night shoot, the
lights attracted curious sting rays to the water’s edge.
The location has added to the complexities of the shoot, but
McElroy believes it’s worth it. The film is being shot in
anamorphic to maximise the visual splendour.
For Australasian distribution, McElroy took the script to Mike
Selwyn at UIP, "because I think UIP is the tops in the
business, and Mike is a very sensitive distributor." Beyond
Films acquired world sales rights, and the Film Finance
Corporation rounded out the investment, after a modest private
investment was secured.
The film will be completed by September, possibly in time for
the Toronto Film Festival.