'Strangerland' benefits: Canowindra already feeling movie's positive effects

FILMING has only just kicked off, but already the impact of the Australian feature film Strangerland is palpable in Canowindra.

Strangerland publicist Tracey Mair estimates the compelling mystery drama will inject around $6 million into regional NSW, as filming begins in Broken Hill and Canowindra this month.

Producer Macdara Kelleher has shot films in towns of a similar size to Canowindra in his native Ireland before, and believes housing the 60-plus crew in Canowindra is already bolstering the local economy. 

“It’s been overwhelmingly positive so far, apart from the rain,” he said.

“Personally, my bar tab will bring a significant amount of money to the town,” 

Aussie actor Hugo Weaving has already been spotted having a meal at the Royal Hotel and the film’s stars are even heading up in a hot air balloon ahead of the 2014 Canowindra Balloon Challenge. 

“‘I prefer shooting in a smaller town, it’s easier you know,” Mr Kelleher said.

“In Sydney you’re so spread out so it’s nice being based in the same place. The people are friendlier.

“I’ve filmed in similar small towns back home in Ireland and it’s great because when you have a small community they get involved and it’s totally different to when you’re filming in a city.”

"When you have a small community they get involved and it’s totally different to when you’re filming in a city"

Location manager Colin MacDougall has worked closely with Cabonne Council and Canowindra Business Chamber  staff to get the project under way, and is ironing out any kinks as they come up.

“Obviously shooting on the main street of a town has potential to be disruptive, so we’ve got measures in place to minimise the impact,” Mr MacDougall said.

“In one street here we’ll be putting road closures in place for a few of the days, so obviously there was a few concerns around town about the potential impact that would have on businesses, but we’ve worked through that so we’ve got clearly marked alternatives for parking on the main street.

“We’ve put out a number of notices over preceding weeks of where the impacts will be so people can plan their shopping and parking around those closures.

“We’ve also did quite a bit of work with our schedule so we didn’t block out huge amounts of time on the main street.”

In his view, the positive impacts of filming in the town are already perceivable.

“We are housing as many people from the crew in town as we can so that’s a big spend in town,” he said.

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“Everyone’s eating meals in town, everyone’s spending money in town, so there’s a flow-on effect to the community coming through businesses, so that’s a benefit.

“We’re also employing a lot of locals to do all sorts of jobs, from helping our art department to helping us on the street with pedestrians while we’re shooting.

“There’s a lot of ways this is helping the town.

“We appreciate all the help we’ve received, we’re striving as hard as we can to minimise any impact on the community. 

“We really appreciate the patience and understanding we’re getting from the local community and we want to thank them because without that support the Australian film industry can’t survive. 

“We need to film in unique locations like this so we really appreciate that support.” 

Strangerland centres on a couple, played by Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes, whose lives unravel after moving to a small outback town where their two teenage children go missing in the harsh Australian desert.

Hugo Weaving is playing the policeman leading the investigation.

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