Georgia Flood and Ezekiel Simat.
Georgia Flood and Ezekiel Simat are starring in The Dog Days of Christmas, a romantic comedy directed by Don’t Tell’s Tori Garrett, which is now shooting on the Gold Coast.
Produced by the Steve Jaggi Company and scripted by American Holly Hester, the US-set movie revolves around Flood’s Annie Blake, an aid worker who has just finished an international mission and heads home to North Haven, Vermont, to spend the holidays with her family.
When the local animal shelter closes, Annie steps in to save it with the help of Dylan (Simat), the local vet and old school nemesis.
Adhering to strict COVID Safe filming practices and guidelines set by the Queensland government, the production is shooting at Warner Bros. Movie World and the hinterland.
All crew members are wearing personal protective equipment and the nurse on set is taking daily temperature checks, says Jaggi, who is producing with Kelly Son Hing and Spencer McLaren, with Kylie Pascoe co-producing.
While that means a fractional increase in the production budget, the financing costs have risen sharply because banks and other financiers are skittish about backing screen productions. So he and his team are spending a lot of time searching for new lenders to cash flow their productions.
In keeping with the producer’s commitment to diversity, the supporting cast includes Anna McGahan, Mansoor Noor, Ling Cooper Tang and Kaushik Das.
This is Jaggi’s second film during the pandemic after wrapping This Little Love of Mine, a romantic comedy directed by Christine Luby, starring Saskia Hampele and Liam McIntyre, in Cairns.
“Despite all the challenges of this year, it has been a busy period for our team and we’re thrilled to be in production on The Dogs Days of Christmas,” he said. “The Gold Coast’s facilities are providing the perfect setting to bring to life a wintery Vermont Christmas.
“With COVID-19 we have a unique opportunity to make content that cuts through to international markets. There is a huge demand for content.”
Hester wrote the spec script and her agent sent it to LA-based MarVista Entertainment, which repped Jaggi’s Swimming For Gold, Back of the Net and Rip Tide. MarVista forwarded it to Jaggi and will handle worldwide distribution.
Jaggi said he hired Garrett (Secret Bridesmaids’ Business, Playing for Keeps, Doctor Doctor) because she has a “strong track record of delivering high-quality drama on tight time frames.”
Last year Flood, whose credits include Wentworth, ANZAC Girls and Here Come The Habibs!, played the lead in the Lifetime series American Princess as a woman who catches her fiancé in flagrante delicto with another woman. When she reacts, the other woman is injured, so she panics, flees the wedding venue and winds up on the grounds of a Renaissance Faire.
She said: “It’s been wonderful to be able to work right now. The cast and crew are a fantastic bunch of talented legends. We have been having a lot of fun with our canine buddies too.”
Simat is a series regular in Seven Studios/Amazon’s Back to the Rafters. His credits include Lingo Pictures/Foxtel’s Lambs of God and Timothy Boyle’s micro-budgeted horror movie On Halloween.
The three lead dogs that feature in the film are adopted and 90 per cent of the animals are either rescued or adopted.
Jaggi’s company will release the film through Event Cinemas and Village Cinemas in 2021.