Last week Home and Away visited Melbourne shooting scenes at key city locations including Flinders Street Station, St. Kilda and the Queen Victoria Markets.
Actors Josh Quong Tart, Esther Anderson and Celeste Dodwell (daughter of actor Grant Dodwell) were required to film a host of fast-moving “chase” scenes for storylines to appear in early 2009. With just two days to jet in, shoot the scenes and jet out, both cast and key crew members had to think fast. But such is the nature of the soap assembly line.
TV Tonight looked on as a portable film crew grabbed scenes in the hustle and bustle of a city market. Shooting 2.5hrs of television a week has clearly streamlined the Seven production. Unlike some dramas, Seven’s crew would swiftly descend upon a group of fruit stalls, film a shot and move on to the next corner of the market, all in the spate of fifteen minutes. So portable is the team, that director Scott Hartford Davis even uses a wireless monitor, not much bigger than an iPod, from which he can view two camera angles.
“We put a man on the moon in 1969 and at the moment working with film crews can get really slow, really tedious,” he said. “So what we’re doing given that it’s a story about streetkids, we’re working with the edge, the rough, the speed, the immediacy of it. We’re just using wireless technology for monitoring.”
Being so versatile, the crew was literally able to point the cameras in another direction without even having to pack up and move.
“That’s the nature of the style. You’re working long lens. The angle of the lens is so narrow that even down the same street you can make it look like a different street because of the way you frame it. And you you just turn it round. And you’re doing a chase sequence.”
Actor Josh Quong Tart acknowledged the fast pace of the shoot.
“I think they want to cram in as many great locations of Melbourne as possible. To do that, you’ve got to do the ones that you do quickly and move onto the next one. Usually we take a lot more time.”
Adding to the realism the Home and Away team shot their scenes amid a working market with customers walking through scenes unhindered.
“The liveliness of the markets I think adds to the immediacy of the scene. The continuity might be an issue but I think what outweighs that is the energy that you have around you. You’ve got to run through the crowd, having to dodge those people,” he said.
Josh Quong Tart was delighted to be in Melbourne, a city he hopes will offer him more work opportunities. Balancing his work on Seven’s show perhaps with a summer play would be his “ideal situation.”
“I was just saying to the publicist I think I’m a bit more Melbourne than Sydney. I don’t know how you can make that assumption, but I’m making it!” he laughed.
“I certainly enjoy dressing for winter. I love the layering. Somebody said to me once ‘Sydney dresses to show up their bods, Melbourne dresses to show up their style.’ I quite like that. And the architecture here. Sydney of course has those amazing beaches, but I just think everything Sydney is, Melbourne isn’t and everything Melbourne is, Sydney isn’t. But any of these comparisons are lost on me. It’s like comparing a Mazzerati to an old Chevy.”
These days his role of ‘Miles’ (aka Milco) has taken on a paternal role since the exit of ‘Sally Fletcher.’
“They say that the ‘Sally’ thing was a baton thing, but I think everyone has their own character in their own right. The baton change thing… I think some people might have something to say about that. I think ‘Sally’s’ been an extraordinary feature in people’s lives for the 20 years she’s been on. I certainly think ‘Alf’ has too. And I think you have to bring whatever you bring on and own it, and hopefully people will accept that.
“I’ve been in a really luxurious position with ‘Milco’,”he said. “All the work had been done for me before I even stepped on set. So I don’t have to work so hard to get people to understand the character or to get on my side because it’s all been done for me. It’s a bit of a gift actually. It’s a lot different to having a new character come on and you’ve got to work really hard to get the audience to go, ‘oh right I get you’ o ‘yeah I think I like you.’ It’s just a dream, really.
“Less work the better really, that’s my motto!”