No pommy summer

THERE was none of the egotistical ranting I expected from a movie director when Ben Elton oversaw me and other volunteer extras on the final day of shooting Three Summers.

Well known Aussie thespians Michael Caton, Magda Szubanski, Deborah Mailman, Jacqueline McKenzie, my teenage heart throb John Waters, the lovely Kelton Pell, and cheery clown Peter Rowsthorn had wrapped up their scenes and were long gone.

Asylum seekers

It had been five weeks of intense filming with 12-hour days and miserably wet English weather, as actors huddled in the cold waiting to convince the audience it was a warm summer’s day.

And on the last day of shooting, the man in charge was still polite and courteous to me and the other volunteer extras who had no idea what we were doing.

• Ben Elton on the set of his new Aussie flick, Three Summers. Photos supplied

“It astounds me how some directors throw their weight around,” Mr Elton told me, some months after my brief acting debut.

“To me, the director should be humble.

“A hundred dedicated people enable your vision. I owe them so much, so I bloody well better be polite.”

Three Summers is Elton’s first Australian feature film, with a homegrown cast and crew, many from WA.

Except for Irishman Robert Sheehan, who will be the lead role in Peter Jackson’s Mortal Engines and is destined for great things. “But his first lead is Three Summers,” Elton brags.

Three Summers was filmed at Fairbridge, near Pinjarra, and is a rom-com with some meaty themes, including indigenous reconciliation and asylum seekers.

Characters include an Aboriginal dance troupe (led by Kelton), a group of wine-loving empty nesters, a power-tripping security guard and a fiercely Aussie morris dancer (Caton).

Caton and Fremantle actor/comedian Sam Longley as morris men is laugh out loud stuff.

• Magda Szubanski.

Szubanski plays meddling community radio star Queenie, who welcomes campers back three summers in a row for a “folking good time”.

The story idea came from Elton’s own many visits to the Fairbridge Festival (including one time with Emma Thompson and her family).

It’s a place people meet for the one weekend each year.

“Then go away and get on with their lives…It’s an interesting concept for a film,” says Elton, who lives in North Fremantle.

Camping and the egalitarian nature of the festival have a huge appeal, Elton says.

“We are all equal in the queue to the portaloos.”

Three Summers is showing at Luna on Essex.


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