EXCLUSIVE: Part One of a two part interview with actor Georgie Parker.
Be careful what you wish for.
Georgie Parker appreciates her downtime while Home & Away has halted production, as she approaches her 10th anniversary on the Seven serial.
As an actor who has enjoyed lengthy runs in A Country Practice and All Saints, she’s used to early starts and long days. But during the COVID-19 shutdown, she is more than aware she is one of the lucky ones.
“I was bitching to my husband, late last year: ‘I’m sick of working all the time!’ I’ve worked since I was 16. I’ve never just had a time where I’ve gotten up, went to the corner store, got the paper, got a coffee, come home, read it. Unless it’s a rare day off…” she tells TV Tonight.
“So now I know what that’s like …it’s really nice to have room to breathe, but now I’m really looking forward to when we can actually knuckle down (and work). And how fortunate am I that I can say that? I’m looking forward to hearing what the storylines are, going back and slowly getting that whole engine running again.”
“We’re all guessing June, July.””
Production was shut down on March 22nd. Along with the rest of the cast and crew, Parker is awaiting the green light to resume.
“It’s all to do with when restrictions will be lessened. We were working right up until about (four) and a half weeks ago and we were doing really well. We had adjusted filming in a very effective manner, adhering to as much spatial distancing as was possible.
“If they take the restrictions back a step or two, we will be able to resume filming. So we’re just waiting for that. We’re all guessing June, July.”
Drama is particularly impacted by social-distancing rules. Even in a serial actors are expressing the human condition, emoting in intimate scenes whether as teens in love or as adults gingerly imparting advice to younger characters.
“Everything is about cheating the distance with camera angles”
Like their Ramsay Street counterparts, the Summer Bay production team had been at their creative best in thinking laterally.
“You can’t do a classic two-shot because you can’t have people standing that close to each other. So then everything is about cheating the distance with camera angles, and then it’s about staggering people in the frame.
“We also knew from the people we were working with that everyone was healthy.
“When we had someone who felt that they were getting the flu, so they just stayed home for two weeks and we just wrote them out. And then someone else had been on a plane and production just said ‘You need to stay at home for two weeks.’ I think it’s a credit to the fact that when a production’s been running as long as Neighbours & Home & Away, they can make those adjustments. They just rewrite around it. I mean, it’s really hard, but they’re malleable like that.”
But Parker, who is married to screenwriter Steve Worland (Go Karts, Paper Planes, Bootmen), is equally aware that thousands of others in the arts and screen communities are doing it tough. Many casual workers will not qualify for the JobKeeper program due to short term work falling short of the 12 month minimum with an employer.
“I just hope that the government initiative shifts a little bit”
“The pandemic has really just halted live performance for everyone -the ballet, the opera, music, gigs, theatre. Everything is just dead. Theatre is precarious at its best anyway and they need every week to be a success for it to keep going. I just hope that the government initiative shifts a little bit so that they take all of that into consideration.
“The idea of being casually employed for a year …if you’re an artist, crew member, lighting or something, it’s just not the way it works.
“I’m really hoping that with the amount of money that the Arts raises for the Australian economy, you’d like to think that some of that will be acknowledged.
“It’s the Arts that we go to, to distract us, to make yourself feel better”
“It’s the Arts that we go to, to distract us, to make yourself feel better, to inform ourselves, educate ourselves and to share ideas. It’s what we’ve always gone to. When we’re not doing that, we’re listening to music. It’s the content that we fill our lives with. It becomes the soundtrack to our lives.
“All the musicians were performing to raise money after the terrible bushfires. People who were willing to give up their time for free, because they understand the need and they understand the pull and the incredible response that the Arts can garner.
“People aren’t able to pay rent, they can’t get food, they’re all having to try and go home -if that’s an option.
“So for it to be completely dismissed, and not even acknowledged or respected, it’s a bizarre situation to find yourself in.”
Tomorrow: Georgie Parker on approaching 10 years in Home & Away.