Photo: Christopher Horsey, Adam Garcia, Matt Lee and Lee McDonald in Fox Searchlight's Bootmen (and here, here), a New England film released in Australia October 2000.
Updated 22 July 2017
One of the difficulties we face in not having our own New England Government is that there is no mechanism to promote the film industry in New England.
In saying this, I am not saying that New England can have its own unique film industry. That would be just plain silly at a time when the Australian film industry as a whole is still struggling to establish a viable commercial identity. However, a New England Government could do two things.
First, it could facilitate film making, including the use of New England locations. That way, we get at least a small slice of the pie.
Secondly, it could ensure that New England people at least have some access to visual material set in or about their own area. This is totally lacking at the present time. New Englanders have no idea as to what films have in fact been made in their own backyard.
As a first step in addressing this gap, I am establishing this page as an entry page for posts about New England films.
1921. The Guyra Ghost Mystery, one of a number of films produced by writer and director John Cosgrove in the early 1920s. The film centres on the apparent haunting of William Bowen's house in Guyra.
1933. Most of the exterior shots (but not the spectacular bush fire scene) in Ken Hall’s epic The Squatter’s Daughter were shot on Goonoo Goonoo Station near Tamworth.
1937. Lovers and Luggers. While set in the Torres Strait, some shooting took place at Port Stephens.
1949. Sons of Mathew. This Charles Chauvel film was filmed mainly in South East Queensland but combines the history of two adjacent areas. Entry point to the posts here.
1953. Captain Thunderbolt. The Cecill Holmes film Captain Thunderbolt is about the life of the legendary bushranger. It was shot in and around Armidale and Uralla with a cast including Grant Taylor and Bud Tingwell. Post here.
1957. Smiley. Filmed at Gundy in the Hunter Valley, Smiley is a classic Australian children's film about a mischievous boy living in the small Australian country town of Murrumbilla. Always getting into pranks, Smiley wants a bike. This he finally gets, but with many misadventures along the way. The film's cast includes Ralph Richardson, John McCallum, Chips Rafferty and Bud Tingwell, with Colin Petersen as Smiley.
1957. The Shiralee. Filmed at Gundy in the Hunter Valley and based on the novel by D'Arcy Niland, The Shiralee tells the story of a man and his daughter. When Jim Macauley (Peter Finch) finds his wife with another man, he takes their young daughter (Dana Wilson) and hits the road. With a young child as his responsibility, he finds he can't be quite the fancy-free wanderer that he had been. Nominated for two BAFTA awards, the film has become another Australian classic.
1958. Smiley Gets a Gun. Again filmed at Gundy in the Hunter Valley, sequel to Smiley (1957).
1968. Koya No Toseinin (The Drifting Avenger). Filmed on location at Nundle, this Japanese western starred Ken Takakura, the Clint Eastwood of Japanese film., in search of revenge for his murdered family. The movie was apparently never released in Australia.
1977. The successful The Picture Show Man, was not only based in part on a Tamworth story, but was also shot on the Liverpool Plains and the Clarence.
!977. Based on the novel by Thomas Keneally, The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith was filmed in part on the Tablelands and had its premier at the Capitol Theatre in Armidale.
1977. Based on the novel by Peter Carey, the story of Oscar and Lucinda finishes at Bellingen. Modern Bellingen was seen as too modern so the New England scenes were filmed on the Mann River at Jackdagery not far from Grafton. Carey conceived the idea of the novel while living at Bellingen.
1978. Little Boy Lost was based on the story of Stephen Walls, filmed at Guyra and premiered at the Capitol Theatre in Armidale.
1978. Newsfront. While a Sydney film, Newsfront includes footage of the 1955 Hunter Valley floods, while the script was written in part by the Lismore born writer and playwright Bob Ellis.
1978. The Umbrella Woman (also know as the Good Wife) directed by Tenterfield born Ken Cameron was shot in and around Bowraville.
1983. Based on a Mills and Boon novel, The House in the Timberwoods by Joyce Dingwell, The Winds of Jarrah was set in WA but filmed around Dorrigo. Wikipedia states that it never achieved cinema release, but Neil Rattigan suggests that there was limited release to country cinemas in NSW.
1994. Muriel's Wedding. Australian comedy-drama film written and directed by P. J. Hogan drawn from his life growing up in the Tweed Valley.
1997 Blackrock. Drama based on the play by Hunter Valley playwright Nick Enright inspired by the murder Leigh Leigh. Enright wrote the script for the film.
1998. A Little Bit of Soul was shot around Glen Innes but has nothing to do with New England beyond the location.
2000. Bootman. Newcastle connections. Links above.
2002. Beneath the Clouds. New England film maker Ivan Sen's first feature film. Lena has an absent Irish father she longs to see and an Aboriginal mother she finds disgusting. When she breaks away, she meets up with petty criminal Vaughn who's just escaped from low security prison to reluctantly visit his dying mother. Blonde and light-skinned, Lena remains in denial about her Aboriginal heritage; Vaughn is an angry young man with a grudge against all whites. An uneasy relationship begins to form as they hit the road heading to Sydney, taking them on a journey that's as emotional as it is physical, as revealing as it is desperate. The film reflects Ivan Sen's own experiences growing up in Inverell with an Aboriginal mother and a European father who was not around.
2003, Danny Deckchair was to be set in the Clarence Valley but filming was moved to Bellingen because the Clarence locations did not look sufficiently idyllic.
2007. Streetsweeper. Set in Newcastle and directed by Neil Mansfield, this film explores the beauty and ugliness of city street streets through the eyes of a "a loner who finds poetry in the ordinary", played by actor and co-writer Marin Mimica. Mimica is the only actor. All others are pedestrians who become unwittingly involved in the streetsweeper's journey.
2008. Newcastle is a surfing drama set, as the name says, in Newcastle.
2009. Charlie & Boots is a road show film Shane Jacobson plays Boots who takes his father (Paul Hogan) on a trip to fish on the northernmost tip of Australia because of something his father told him when he was a kid. They travel from Victoria to the Cape York Peninsula in a Holden Kingswood, visiting different towns, hang-outs in different restaurants, and visiting famous attractions. On their way, they start to reconcile and express their emotions about the recent death of Gracie, Charlie's wife and Boots's mother, and the drama unfolding around the death of Ben, Boots' son, by drowning. They even help a young 16-year-old girl named Jess by allowing her to escape her boyfriend Tristan and aid her in her dream to go to the famous country city of Tamworth. New England locations are Tamworth and Tenterfield..
2010. Lou. Set in Murwillumbah and made by Murwillumba born director Belinda Chayko, Lou is a tender story about the relationship between 11-year-old Lou and her grandfather. Not long after Lou's father walks out of her life, her irascible and befuddled grandfather crashes in. But when Doyle comes to stay, Lou discovers, against all her expectations, the healing power of love.
2010. Tomorrow, When the War Began was shot in Maitland, Raymond Terrace and Dungog as well as the Blue Mountains.
2011 Toomelah. Made by New England film maker Ivan Sen, the film tells the story of Daniel, a 9 year-old aboriginal boy living in the community where Sen’s mother was born and grew up in. After being suspended from school for threatening to stab a classmate with a pencil and finding there is little to do in his town, he decides he wants to be a part of the gang controlling the drug trade in his township, so he decides to help Linden, a well known local drug dealer. Bruce, one of Linden's rivals, is released from prison and a turf war erupts.This hybrid of documentary and fiction follows Daniel as he roams around the “mish” trying to make sense of expectations of his family, his friends, and of he himself. Much of the script was based on notes Sen took of the inhabitants’ own words, expressions, ideas and emotions, trying to translate the immobility from which Toomelah suffers.
2012 Mental Another Australian comedy-drama film written and directed by P. J. Hogan drawn from his life growing up in the Tweed Valley