A world class studio tour - The Backlot - the likes of which have never been seen
before was unveiled yesterday (1/9/99) at Fox Studios Australia, showcasing Australian
creativity, ingenuity and showbiz pizzaz within a stylish but irreverent homage to the art and craft of filmmaking. While the biggest attraction of the Backlot will no doubt be the
physically immersing, Titanic The Experience, the heart and soul of the public tour will
unquestionably be the Barrie Kosky/Baz Luhrmann live show, Lights! Camera! Chaos!, a 25
minute mixture of circus, burlesque, musical and stunts, in which the audience play extras
in the making of a movie musical.
"a gala event"
Fox Studios Chief Executive Kim Williams, Kosky and designer Catherine Martin were
joined at the studio launch via satellite from Los Angeles by Titanic co-producer Jon
Landau and art director Jeremy Railton (who did the 57th Academy Awards as well
as Elizabeth Taylor's televised 65th birthday party) to explain the outlines of
The Backlot, which will be officially opened on November 7 with a gala event attended by a
galaxy of stars and celebrities from all over the world.
As Landau pointed out, it was four years to the day that production began on Titanic,
with a dive to the sunken wreck of the ship. "We knew we wanted to make a totally
immersive movie for audiences, and so we are thrilled to see that quest of ours continuing
in this experience. It will engage all the senses and combine all the elements that make
you feel like an extra on the movie set, while also simulating the experience of being on
the ship itself, plus how you felt when you saw the movie."
"a multimedia presentation beyond anything you’ve
The experience begins in the props room that holds the actual props from the movie and
features the 13 meter model of the ship used for all the full-ship shots, the 20 minute
experience will take visitors on one of two different versions: one via First Class, one
via steerage. "It's a multimedia presentation beyond anything you’ve
experienced," said Landau, who was involved in the project's creation.
Visitors will experience a G 2 force when the iceberg hits, Dennis Watkins (director of
Titanic the Experience) promised; his team begins rehearsals on Monday August 6, 1999.
The Backlot is essentially a self guided tour of eight major attractions, which
visitors can enjoy at their own pace, said Williams. "It is a public celebration of
film and television as the artform of the 20th century." The attractions
are more theatrical shows than theme park rides, and the objective throughout has been to
take visitors into the heart of filmmaking, with several opportunities to witness the real
process, not simulations.
But theatre will extend beyond the attractions into the very streetscape, whose focal
point will be Bent Street Pavilion, the result of the creative craftsmanship of a team of
"it's a celebration of movie making"
Barrie Kosky described the driving concept behind The Backlot attractions as
"offering the fantasy of being in the film world. There are three pillars on which we
built this: it's a celebration of movie making across all facets of it; secondly, it's a
celebration of 'Australian', using and fusing the unique architectural features of this
heritage site, while being irreverent and witty, as well as blending the historic with the
contemporary; and thirdly, it's anarchic fun, a vibrant collage of culture . . . I didn't
want something unified . . . more a craziness and a showcase of diversity, full of
Kosky's vision also focuses on live performance at every opportunity, even atop the
witty entrance gate designed by Martin, featuring - around the three dimensional Fox
Studios logo - a kangaroo with a megafone, an emu by the camera on a tripod, film cans and
a frill-necked lizard in full cry. Kosky hopes it will become another Sydney icon, as
recognisable as the Harbour Bridge or Opera House.
In the Kosky/Luhrmann inspired show, Lights! Camera! Chaos! Australian animals at
Flying Fox Films are shooting a new movie, Space -The Musical, in which the visitors
become extras. The 12 performers are helped by the voices of Austen Tayshus, Toni Lamond,
Tony Sheldon and Carol Skinner with amazing new versions of many popular hits.
Kosky said the challenge was to create something that would entertain everyone at every
age from every corner of the world. There will be six half hour shows a day, and Kosky
said it was intended to serve as an insight into a fantasy version of filmmaking.
"The challenge was to bring together intelligence,
information in an entertaining way"
Los Angeles based Entertainment Design Corporation's Jeremy Railton, said via satellite
the walk-through tour shows actual production processes. "The challenge was to bring
together intelligence, information in an entertaining way. We wanted to take
audiences to a point that they feel they've touched film production in some way."