Thanks to an innovative funding program and South Australia’s dramatic landscapes, the movie version – starring veteran Aussie actor Hugo Weaving and Adelaide youngster Tom Russell – was filmed entirely in this state.
Co-producer Nick Cole said the production team did a “recce” in Broken Hill, but was then invited by the SA Film Corporation to check out locations in and around the Flinders Ranges in March last year. They were immediately hooked.
“My director’s response was that it was New South Wales on steroids… once we saw the possibilities in SA, we went back and re-worked the project to suit.”
Cast and crew covered nearly 5000km in just six-and-a-half weeks of filming what is described as a touching and uncompromising road movie. Most of the scenes take place in the ranges – including Quorn, Wilpena Pound and Leigh Creek – as well as Woomera and Lake Gairdner.
“Logistically, it was an enormous undertaking, but visually it was quite compelling and we were determined to make it work,” Cole said.
“Some of the landscapes we believe have not been seen on film in Australia before, but they gave the project a much bolder, more dramatic aspect. We needed a landscape that would change dramatically and not become repetitive.”
But this backdrop was only one factor influencing the producers’ decision to film in South Australia, with financial incentives offered through the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund (AFFIF) and the SA Film Commission sealing the deal.
In an industry where big-screen, much-hyped blockbusters like Baz Luhrmann’s Australia have budgets of $100 million or more, it can be extraordinarily difficult to get funding for low-budget independent films. This means state funding plays a crucial role in getting such films made.
The AFFIF provides equity investment in Australian films of $500,000 each year. In the case of Last Ride, this contribution accounted for 5.2 per cent of the total production budget, while the SA Film Corporation kicked in 5.8 per cent.