Local drama blooms in regional Victoria

Making Australian television with international appeal

After its highly anticipated release on New Year’s Day and a strong audience response to match, we caught up with the team behind the Stan Original series Bloom. Made with support from Film Victoria’s production and incentives programs, which brought the production to regional Victoria, the six-part series joins Stan’s growing slate of high-end, Australian drama.

With the next deadline for the Assigned Production Investment – TV/Online program coming up on 4 February, hear what David Taylor, Company Director at Playmaker Media, has to say about producing a high-end series, receiving Film Victoria funding, and where he thinks television is heading.

 

After much anticipation, Bloom released on New Year’s Day in Australia, on Stan. What has the response been so far?

The response from Stan subscribers has been fantastic – strong viewing numbers and great feedback across social media channels.

The series tells a mysterious story about the scarcity of time and the choices we make, centring on an idyllic country town one year after a devastating flood kills five locals, and a new plant appears with the power to restore youth. What was the inspiration for Bloom and how did the idea unfold into what is now a premium piece of Australian drama?

Glen Dolman’s inspiration for Bloom started several years ago seeing small towns decimated with lives lost in a devastating flood. The power and brutality of nature became his starting point to tell a character-led story about mortality and regrets by introducing a post-flood plant that has the inexplicable power to restore youth. The series' storylines evolved from there.

Bloom is a Stan Original series, and a prime example of the high-end drama that the platform is focusing on. What makes a high-end piece of drama (considering story idea, production, and any other elements)? And what is it about Bloom that makes it sit at this level?

An Australian high-end drama needs to have the production value, storytelling craft and clear sense of identity to sit on an SVOD platform alongside the best television internationally.

Bloom is supported with production funding from Film Victoria. What did the funding help you achieve that you wouldn’t have been able to otherwise, and how has this impacted Bloom’s overall success?

Bloom simply couldn’t have been produced without the incredible support from Film Victoria. With their support we were able to scout and secure our hero town in regional Victoria on a very tight timeline.

Bloom was largely filmed in regional Victoria, with support from Film Victoria’s regional incentives fund, portraying the fictional town of Mullan. Which locations did you shoot in and what did the rural setting add to the story? What was your experience of shooting in Victoria?

Our fictional town of Mullan was in reality the picturesque township of Clunes.  It was the core of our story, the place of the series' inciting incident and it gave us access to all the characters in the show.  We received great support from the residents of Clunes and surrounding areas who helped us with infrastructure for our filming unit, accommodation and participated as extras in the show.  Having based a number of Playmaker productions in Victoria, in itself an endorsement of the State, it offers quality cast, crew and facilities which we have enjoyed working with for the past seven years.  

Bloom has a stellar cast, including Jacki Weaver, Bryan Brown, Phoebe Tonkin, and Ryan Corr. Can you tell us about the casting process and what these actors brought to the series?

It was a challenging casting process given most key characters had both older and younger versions of themselves. In the end, with the expertise of Leigh Pickford (casting director) and our stellar production, make-up and wardrobe designers, we secured an incredible cast that more than delivered on the promise of the series and brought Glen’s characters to life.

What were some of the highlights of this production?

Seeing John Curran (director) and Mark Perry’s (editor) first cut of the opening episode. It leapt off the screen, was moving and truly beautiful to watch. Carrie Kennedy (production Designer) and Geoff Hall’s (DP) work was sublime. Everything we’d ever hoped for the series. And Ryan’s nudie run of course!

What excites you about television right now and where do you see it going in the next few years?

There’s an incredible appetite for quality storytelling at the moment, and that’s exciting. Nothing’s off limits, and with the right idea, anything’s possible.

With a deadline for production funding coming up, what tips do you have for other producers applying to Film Victoria’s API – TV/Online program?

Go for it!

 

Find out more about Film Victoria’s production funding, including how to apply for the next Assigned Production Investment - TV/Online – deadline 4 February.

Bloom is a Playmaker production for Stan with principal production investment from Screen Australia, in association with Stan and financed with support from Film Victoria’s Assigned Production Investment Film and TV program and Regional Location Assistance Fund.