A new web series shot in the Great Southern is shining a spotlight on regional Australia and challenging the stereotype that fictional productions often cast upon rural residents.
- A new series has been filmed in Kojonup, 250 kilometres south-east of Perth
- Producer and actor Bec Bignell grew up in the Great Southern, and wanted to present a more authentic story of regional Australia
- The community, including local shearers-turned-actors, have rallied around the series
‘Homespun,’ to premiere at the CinefestOZ Albany film festival on Friday, follows the story of two friends making a variety show in a shed — dust, swearing and colourful characters included.
The series is the brainchild of producer, actor and writer Bec Bignell, who grew up in Kojonup, 250 kilometres south-east of Perth.
She said wanted to tell a female-led story that was progressive but still fun and ‘a little bit cheeky”.
“A lot of the stuff that I’ve seen on TV has been very different to the experience that I’ve had in the regions and growing up,” she said.
“There’s a very strong image of you know, people in the paddock with an Akubra and it’s quite a romantic image.
“But that’s often not the sort of the reality.”
More authentic version of country life
Ms Bignell said the innovation and entrepreneurialism of regional towns was often overlooked in fiction.
“The regions are full of people who have businesses there,” she said.
“They’ve got families, they’re trying to educate their children and give them the same level of access [to those in the city].
“I think it also means that sometimes when we see ourselves presented like that repeatedly, we actually identify ourselves with that sort of romantic notion.
Homespun runs over seven 12-minute episodes, featuring dozens of local residents in supporting roles.
“We had actors and non-actors like Ned Kappa, who’s the head of the agricultural supplies (in a local store),” Ms Bignell said. “My friend Jamie McVeigh, she plays a fish and chip shop owner and that’s a really fun thing that repeats.”
“There’s also Brendan Boyle, who is a local shearer and a whole range of different people who actually play character roles, not just background extras.
“That was an amazing experience for them and a very big part of the project as well.”
Locals shine on screen
Kojonup resident Olivia Thorn was asked to play a supporting role in the series and said shooting her scenes was a lot of fun, but harder than she expected.
“I’ve never acted … or been directed by a professional and I have all the respect for actors and actresses, because it’s really a lot harder than it looks,” she said.
“It was pretty cool how much the community rallied behind the whole cast and the crew and made them feel so welcomed by offering accommodation and cooking and food between the scenes.
“There’s so much realness and real characters and I think that’s what Bec [Bignell] was trying to shine a light on.”