Damian Hill and Ty Perham in ‘West of Sunshine.’
Shooting of M4M began in Melbourne on Monday as the cast and crew regrouped following the death on September 22 of Damian Hill, who co-wrote the crime drama/romance with the director Paul Ireland.
Ireland has dedicated the film inspired by Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for Measure’ to Hill, his best mate who was to co-produce and play Angelo, a character the director described as a fallen angel.
“After Dame died we got together and decided the best thing to do is carry on and make this for Dame,” says Ireland, who first collaborated with the actor/producer/writer in Pawno in 2015.
“Everyone has been amazing and very stoic. Dame and I were like a married couple. We worked together every day. He was so humble, a beautiful person. I feel like I have lost a part of me, but I’m determined to get through this.”
Hugo Weaving stars as Duke, a Melbourne crime boss, with Mark Winter, Daniel Henshall, Mal Kennard and John Brumpton as members of Duke’s gang. Winter took on the role of Angelo and Henshall stepped in to play Winter’s character.
The romance is between Megan Smart as Jaiwara, a Lebanese Muslim, and Harrison Gilbertson as loner musician Claudio. Fayssal Bazzi is Farouk, Jaiwara’s gangster brother, and Doris Younane is their mother.
Experienced producer David Redman has joined the production, which is funded by Screen Australia, the Melbourne International Film Festival Premiere Fund and Film Victoria. Umbrella Entertainment will release in Australia and Bankside Films is handling international sales. Ireland tells IF he is especially grateful for Screen Australia’s support during this stressful time.
There will be a celebration of Hill’s life at 2 pm on Saturday at Nymphaea Lake West, Royal Botanic Gardens in South Yarra. The dress code is ‘absolutely no ties.’ Ireland expects many people will wear check shirts, Hill’s favourite clothing.
Jason Raftopoulos’ West of Sunshine, which starred Hill and his stepson Ty Perham, is in the running for AACTA’s new award for best independent film budgeted below $2 million.
His final two films, Partho Sen-Gupta’s thriller Slam and Heath Davis’ Locusts, will be released next year. Ben Geurens and Nathaniel Dean play estranged brothers who are the targets of an extortion racket in Locusts, a Broken Hill-set suspense-drama scripted by radiologist-turned writer/producer Angus Watts. Davis tells IF that Hill played a miner turned meth cook named Davo who also fancied himself as a tattoo artist.
Hill was 42. He is survived by his brother Julian and partner Beth, his daughter Jordan, stepsons Jay and Ty and their daughter Frankie.