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Film stars ‘blown away’ by Tasssie

Edition160 Nicole Kidman

International actors working on the blockbuster movie, Lion, were “blown away" by Tasmania’s charms.

The cast includes Indian superstar Dev Patel and Australian-born Hollywood celebrities Nicole Kidman and David Wenham.

Producer Angie Fielder said: “Our cast absolutely love it. (US actor) Rooney Mara in fact has been saying repeatedly how beautiful it is. She can’t believe it.

“We’ve been shooting in some beautiful locations so everyone has been enjoying it.

“We’ve all been really enjoying the night life in the evenings – the restaurants, the delicious food, the fantastic wine. Everyone is ordering lots of oysters.”

A cast and crew of about 75 were in Tasmania for eight days shooting scenes for the film, which is based on Hobart man Saroo Brierley’s best-selling book A Long Way Home.

Ms Fielder (whose previous work includes the successful Wish You Were Here with Joel Edgerton) said: “Our first day was on this beautiful beach called Lagoon Bay [at Dunalley] which was very secluded and private, a wild beach surrounded by forest.

“That was pretty impressive and Tassie totally turned on the weather for us that day, it was blue skies.”

Filming also took place on Hobart’s Eastern Shore, on the River Derwent and at Dunalley, Cockle Creek and kunanyi / Mount Wellington.

“Nicole (Kidman) has been here before, but she really thinks it’s great,” Ms Fielder told The Mercury.

“Dev Patel [Slumdog Millionaire and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel] and Rooney Mara [The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo] are here for the first time and they’re blown away.

“Everyone is trying to squeeze in a trip to MONA on their days off.”

Co-producer Emile Sherman said it had been important to bring Lion to Hobart because the city figured powerfully in Mr Brierley’s story.

“We are so thrilled that we did as we’ve had an extraordinary experience here,” he said.

“The people of Hobart have been incredibly warm, welcoming and supportive, the locations are spectacular and the food and wine are incredible.

“I think everyone in the cast and crew will be sad to leave.”

Ms Kidman managed a day out on Robert Pennicott’s Tasmanian Seafood Seduction river cruise.

Ms Fielder said the Brierley story had great resonance. “It takes you on this slightly mythical journey. It’s one of those stories that, even if it wasn’t made into a film, would still live on and on through generations because it’s such an amazing story.”

Saroo Brierley was separated from his natural family as a young boy and adopted from an Indian orphanage at the age of five by Hobart couple Sue and John Brierley.

His book tells an amazing story of Saroo’s painstaking search using Google Earth that eventually located his Indian family in a town whose name he had been unable to remember.

Kidman and Wenham play Saroo’s adoptive parents, with Patel as Saroo.

A large part of the film had been shot in India before filming moved to Tasmania in mid-April.

Farmer Matt Dunbabin was given only three days’ notice that his property at Bangor had been selected for some scenes.

“We spent little bits of time down there and met some of the cast and crew,” Mr Dunbabin told 936 ABC Hobart’s Ryk Goddard.

“We met Nicole and David and Dev Patel and shook hands with the cast.

“I don’t think I blushed, but it is exciting to meet some big stars; it doesn’t happen every day.

“We just had a bit of chat about the property and about our family. It was great.”

Mr Dunbabin said the family farm, which is popular with campers, had been transformed by the visit.

“We had a small group of campers who were a bit overwhelmed when 100 people rocked up, but they were really good about it,” he said.

“They enjoyed seeing some activity and meeting some people they wouldn't normally meet.”

“It’s a big crew … lots of people involved; lots of trucks and everything from the first aid guys, to the caterers, to the cameras, sound and directors, producers and actors.”

Tasmanian filming of Lion, a co-production between Screen Australia and Seesaw Films, is now complete.

Screen Tasmania provided production and location support, helping at least 12 locals gain employment on the film in various roles.

Lion will focus international attention on Hobart and Tasmania when it premieres in 2016.

4 May 2015, Edition 160

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