You may have read my blog about the life I lead as a yoga teacher in Your Margaret River Region. I still find it hard to believe that I’m living such a dream. But there’s a whole other, and completely contrasting, side to my career that continues to flourish despite the fact I’m based in one of the most physically remote locations on the planet. It’s that of a freelance TV commercial producer.
I’m often met with incredulity when I mention the work I do and to be honest, when I moved to Dunsborough, in the heart of the region 14 years ago I thought my time with the advertising and production world had come to an end. But as offers for work continued, I realised I could carry on as before. Well, almost. There are regular trips to Perth and a lot of remote communication/conferencing/Skype chats (oh, I love technology!) but the very rewarding trade-off is that I’m still able to call one of the most beautiful places in the world home.
While I work on some fairly high-profile WA and national advertising campaigns out of Perth – in the past twelve months they’ve included RAC, HBF, Telethon Kids, Cancer Council, TAB, Toyota, Commonwealth Bank and Victoria Bitter (I have a soft spot for this one – even though I don’t drink beer – as I was able to hang out with Mitchell Johnson) – I’ve also been fortunate enough to orchestrate numerous productions in my own glorious backyard. There is so much on offer from a filming perspective across the entire south-west, and when advertising agencies and their clients realise how user friendly our environment is for filming, they are easily convinced to make their way here. Without exception, every single person has loved both the production values and the experience.
Below you’ll find just a taste of some of the awesome, fun and memorable jobs I’ve been lucky enough to work on in Your Margaret River Region.
Boranup Karri Forest defies description. It's an absolute must on any visitor's itinerary.
Mt Franklin Sparkling Water with Jennifer Hawkins
This was a huge production out of Sydney with a large contingent of client, advertising agency and crew travelling to WA to film for several days around Smiths Beach and Boranup Karri Forest. An equally large number of crew also travelled from Perth (there was a degree of jostling for a place on this job when word got out that Jen was the star!). In all, close to 40 people were involved.
We had a magnificent day for the Boranup Karri Forest filming, and unwavering assistance from the Department of Parks and Wildlife which manages this incredible nature reserve. Boranup defies description, with sleek eucalypts towering towards the sky forming a canopy over the lush undergrowth. It’s an absolute must on any visitor’s itinerary.
Sadly though, conditions changed for the planned Smiths Beach day, with a blustery onshore wind making it impossible to film on the west-facing coast. However, one of the many wonders of being located along the Capes region is that when the wind is gusting on one side, the other coast is calm and unaffected by the conditions. And so we quickly relocated to the north-east Dunsborough beachfront. The City of Busselton Rangers were on hand to organise access and oversee all our needs. There aren’t too many places that are so accommodating when it comes to last minute changes, and the whole production team was in awe of the assistance we received. We must have created quite a spectacle as locals came in their droves, some even setting up deckchairs on the beachfront to watch our activities. While the two days of filming and several weeks of pre-production only amounted to 30 seconds in a 45 second TV commercial, the end result is pretty impressive. And I absolutely love Jen’s wardrobe!
The research showed that Busselton is home to a truly unique population who have varied occupations, lifestyles, as well as breadth of characters and beautiful faces.
OPSM National campaign
I received the request to produce this campaign specifically in Busselton, as much research had been done by OPSM to find Australia’s most diverse community in age, lifestyle, background, ethnicity and careers. The City of Busselton won hands down, with OPSM’s Brand Manager, Meredith Jones, confirming the results of their research:
“Busselton is home to a truly unique population who have varied occupations, lifestyles, as well as breadth of characters and beautiful faces,” she said. “We were taken away by how beautiful the town was, and the people we met.”
The fun part of this shoot was that all of the “talent” were locals. A casting agent from Melbourne spent several days interviewing a range of potential candidates and, ultimately, 21 people were filmed over a period of a week. Filming Myles the beekeeper, Karel the barista, and Melia the horse trainer, Dunsborough mum Joy, and John the jeweller, as well as the other awesome cast, our relatively small film crew – five from Melbourne and two from Dunsborough – covered coastline from Busselton to Injidup, checked out some inspiring workshops, galleries and studios and became addicted to the sesame burgers at the Yallingup Caves Park Store. There was also an equally hard-working photography crew just a few steps behind our film unit but it all fell into place beautifully and the weather was incredible. There were a lot of happy bronzed faces heading back to the east coast at the end of the job. And the commercial showcases the region and the people superbly.
Riding camels and feeding emus at Simmos Icecreamery, rolling down sand dunes and chatting up the girls at the Busselton Jetty were all involved in this three day road trip.
Masters Milk Cows on a Roadtrip
Five cows on a road trip? In a combi? Yes, it sounds pretty crazy, but this shoot brought an immense amount of fun into my life for a couple of weeks. Of course the cows were guys – each a successful Perth actor in his own right – dressed in furry costumes with enormous heads, which was a challenge in itself as we were shooting in the height of summer on very steamy days. It was a three day roadtrip which saw the guys get up to all sorts of mischief, riding camels and feeding emus at Simmos Icecreamery, rolling down sand dunes at Margaret River’s surf break, getting poked with a cow prod, and chatting up the girls at the Busselton Jetty. The lovingly restored combi belongs to an enterprising Dunsborough-based guy who hires the vehicles for weddings and tours. Every imaginable play on words surfaced over the shoot, so at the risk of milking it for all it’s worth, it was an udderly awesome time!
Weetbix National campaign
I must say that I’m very much a person who looks good behind the camera, not in front of it. But I have occasionally made an appearance in some of the jobs I’ve worked on – playing volleyball on a beach in Fiji in an HBF commercial, the official jeans wearer (notably shot from behind) in Jeans West ads, and even a national appearance in a Weetbix commercial. Even if it was only my feet! This shoot was a tiny part of a huge production filmed primarily on the east coast. However, the shots of feet on the beach were actually done around Your Margaret River region. And one set is mine! The other belongs to gorgeous local girl, Jess.
Working from home; visiting some of my favourite places in the region; spending time with truly inspiring people... this was one of those dream jobs that comes along rarely.
RAC Electric Highway shoot
During the process of writing this blog, I’ve also been working on two other productions – one for the Commonwealth Bank promoting a wonderful charity event, and the other an RAC community service video for the new Electric Highway that has been established between Perth and Margaret River. This is another dream job: a roadtrip with a small crew following a very flash electric car as it makes its way along the highway and through the spectacular countryside of the South West. I’m secretly hoping for a chance to hop behind the wheel and take the car for a spin! The video will go live on RAC’s website in August, so keep an eye out.
Your Margaret River Region shoot
This was one of those dream jobs that comes along rarely. It offered the chance to work from home, and to visit some of my favourite places in the region, spend time with truly inspiring people, and film it all with two fantastic local cameramen, Michael Fletcher and Darren McCagh.
If there is one word which surfaces time and again when describing Your Margaret River Region it’s “diversity”. Whether it’s nature, art, culture, industry, adventure, or the lifestyle, there is an interesting and intriguing melting pot that creates a unique vitality in the region. And this really came to the fore during the course of our four day shoot, not only from a visual perspective but also from the way everyone we interviewed described their love of this place they call home.
It’s certainly a zany, exciting, sometimes stressful, and always diverse life I lead in the production world. It’s been a huge part of my life for three decades, and what gives me the energy to keep going is living in such a beautiful place as Dunsborough, and being able to focus on a more calming aspect of life through yoga. And then there’s the coffee van business I run with my husband at Yallingup Beach. But that’s a whole other blog…