The ball started rolling with the street casting where we met pre-selected candidates. Out of our six candidates, five showed up. We liked the story of a woman from Jamaica who survived a terrible car accident and saw a sign to come to Australia. Unfortunately, there were scheduling issues and she couldn’t make the shoot week – so we went looking for candidates from other groups and in the end poached Dawn (Archie and I had met Dawn while waiting for our candidate who didn’t show up). Dawn had won $250k on Millionaire Hotseat but had to use the money as a deposit on a nursing home for her husband who has early onset dementia. Her vivacious personality immediately appealed to the whole group.
Work and Development
Once Dawn was confirmed, Damien got started on the script and I did some rewrites to tighten it. The main theme we wanted to explore was Dawn’s use of comedy to deal with her tragic situation. We pulled reference materials together and met with our designer Tilly and those references combined with her production design ideas helped to inform the script even further. During this process we found that Dawn has incredible hope and fantastical plans for her future still – particularly her dream of travelling to chic places like Paris – and decided to incorporate that into the shoot. Our initial idea was to place Dawn in a white studio and have props and set pieces move around her as she talked but that proved difficult – especially on a limited budget, so we chose to create what we called The Luxury Room for her and this lead to choosing contrasting spaces to film between: the reality of everyday domesticity in a kitchen, contrasted with a European dream Luxury Room.
We also wanted to use the Millionaire Hotseat archival footage throughout but weren’t sure we would be able to secure the rights, so we wrote the script without it, as a backup plan to make sure we had a story regardless of getting the archive footage… but happily