The good folk of Albury-Wodonga who turned out for the world premiere of director Stephen Amis’ comedy The BBQ at Albury’s Regent Cinemas on Sunday would have noticed references to some recognisable brands.
What few, if any, realised is that several brands were written into the screenplay by Amis, David Richardson, Serge DeNardo, Angelo Salamanca and Tim Ferguson, in return for substantial sponsorship.
Tait Brady, who produced the film starring Shane Jacobson, Magda Szubanski and celebrity chef Manu Feildel with Amis, Lynne Wilson and Deb Fryers, calls the initiative “sophisticated product placement,” which contributed nearly $1 million to the $3.7 million budget.
IGA Supermarkets and Barbeques Galore put up the bulk of those funds with the rest from Heat Beads®.
Brady says the product placement was integral to the film, with Jacobson playing Darren ‘Dazza’ Cook, who works at Barbecues Galore, and Julia Zemiro as his wife Diane, an employee at IGA.
The producers also raised $700,000 from private investors, primarily two business identities in Albury-Wodonga, where half the film was shot last year. Screen Australia, Film Victoria and Soundfirm also backed the production.
Some 950 people attended the premiere held in four of Regent Cinemas’ seven screens and responded enthusiastically, according to Brady.
The plot follows Dazza as his raw prawns accidentally cause the largest case of domestic food poisoning in Australia, threatening his reputation and dignity. To make amends he seeks the help of a mysterious Scottish chef known as ‘The Butcher,’ played by Szubanski.
In his acting debut Feildel is cast as Andre Montblanc, a sly, villainous French chef who is the favourite to win an international barbecue competition. A local discovery, 13-year-old Freddie Simpson plays Dazza’s son Jayden, who is challenged by the headmaster to prove his dad’s theory that the family’s lineage can be traced back to Captain James Cook.
Jacobson and Feildel are setting off on a publicity tour ahead of advance screenings during the Australia Day weekend.
The film will launch nationally on 150-160 screens on February 22, co-distributed by Brady’s Label and Madman Entertainment.
Amis says the comedy “celebrates all that we hold dear: the rugged individualist, the myth of the little Aussie battler, as well as life’s essentials – family, meat, beer, hot cars, sports, good mates, loved ones. And our barbeques.”