Director, Jennifer Kent; actor Essie Davis; actor, Bridget Walters; and an Eldercare resident rehearse their lines
By Yasmin Noone
Ten Adelaide aged care residents aged 90 and over have sampled movie making heaven, starring along side the star of ABC’s Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Essie Davis, in a new psychological drama Australian feature film.
Eldercare Kirkholme in Goodwood (SA) was transformed into a film set earlier this month, after the facility was selected to be one of the movie locations and male and female residents were chosen as the extras for the upcoming movie, The Babadook.
Written and directed by Jennifer Kent, The Babadook is set in the 1940s and is said to follow in the tradition of Roman Polanski’s classic domestic horrors, maintaining a distinctly bizarre and surreal edge.
Ms Davis plays the movie’s lead character, Amelia, who works as an aged care nurse. Single mum Amelia battles with her son’s fear that there’s a monster lurking in her home but, as she soon discovers for herself, her son’s instinct is right as there really is a sinister presence surrounding her as well.
According to Kirkholme’s facility’s lifestyle coordinator, Katrina Bosworth, the moviemaking experience was thoroughly exciting for the all residents, but especially the 10 extras, those who closely follow the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and fans of the psychological thriller genre.
“They all thought it was wonderful,” Ms Bosworth said.
“None of them had been involved in a film before. There was a big buzz about the place. Everyone was talking about it. Everyone was excited because we had this Australian film crew around for the day.
“The residents definitely had lots of fun. The other thing about it was that some of the residents who have watched Essie Davis play Miss Fischer on the ABC got to meet her in person.
“I think that was one of the benefits – to watch a lovely, beautiful actress on TV and then see her! It left some of the residents speechless.”
According to Ms Bosworth, residents were up at the crack of dawn to watch the film crew roll in and prepare for the shoot., and to check out the actors.
“At 5.30am, they were setting the tents up, outside on the lawn. All the trucks arrived and the actors and actresses arrived.
“At about 7.30am, they started filming in the staff room. They had transformed it [to a movie set] on the Tuesday afternoon.”
Decorated in blue, black and grey, the modern appliance-filled kitchen was turned into a 1940s kitchen with simple décor, a table and black chairs.
“They filmed in there for around four hours. While they were filming, we were allowed to take the residents through the IT, makeup and catering trucks, so the residents basically got to go through all the whole set.
“From there, they moved into another scene, where Essie was able to serve morning tea to the residents. Four residents were involved in that.
“The bingo scene took place after lunch, where all the 10 residents were involved.
“Essie Davis was out the front calling the bingo numbers and the residents were sitting around the table, playing bingo.
“I ended up crying at the end of the day because the residents were so gorgeous.
“They really enjoyed the experience and the wardrobe ladies were absolutely brilliant.
“The whole thing was just absolutely beautiful. They were just so natural in their acting and they did everything they were asked for.”
Eldercare Kirkholme’s lifestyle coordinator, Katrina Bosworth, with actor Essie Davis
Students from a local primary school, who visited the facility for their annual intergenerational program on the day of filming, also got to partake in the moviemaking magic. They watched the bingo scene being filmed and were allowed to have a hands-on look at all the movie equipment.
“There was just a real energetic and positive buzz through the whole day, right up until about 7.30pm or so when everyone left.
“We had a resident who hardly ever gets out of her room, come out of her room for the day to watch from behind the scenes. For me, it was just a little thing but it meant so much to that one person.
“I would certainly do it again because of the rewards.”
The director, Ms Kent, will return to the facility in the next month to present and screen the film ‘shorts’ of the scenes shot at the Kirkholme location.
“It’s going to be absolutely brilliant,” Ms Bosworth said.
“We are planning a big afternoon happy hour tea to show the ‘shorts’.”
And, she added, when it comes time to actually show the full film, there’ll be “afternoon tea and a chocolate ice cream cone” for every resident.
About the film
Ms Kent wrote the film using her award-winning short horror film, Monster as a springboard.
She developed the script for The Babadook at the prestigious Binger Lab in Amsterdam with assistance from Screen NSW, Screen Australia, Waking Dreams Productions, the Screen Australia Enterprise Program and Australian film producing legend, Jan Chapman.
“Our team are committed to creating a new and captivating visual world, and with the expected powerhouse performances from Essie Davis and the amazing new talent of six year old, Noah Wiseman, in his feature film debut, we are very confident that The Babadook will be a visually arresting, deeply frightening, moving and unforgettable film,” said producer, Kristina Ceyton.
Lead actress, Essie Davis said: “It’s such a complex, intense and intriguing character to be playing and a lot of responsibility to carry a film like this, but I’ve known director Jennifer Kent for 20 years now so I’m totally ready to surrender and take the plunge with her into this incredible and terrifying world.”
The Babadook is also shooting at the Adelaide Studios Sound Stages.
The movie will be released in 2013.