MELBOURNE LOCATIONS SET TO PACK A PUNCH AT SUNDANCE

Melbourne plays 17th century Europe

When Australian feature film Judy and Punch premieres at the Sundance Film Festival this month, audiences will see a darkly comic story featuring a backdrop of classic 17th century European architecture and European-style forests.

Fortunately for the filmmakers they didn’t need to leave Australian shores to achieve their cinematic vision for this female-driven reinterpretation of the famous marionette show.

Instead, in April and May 2018, the cast and crew came together in various locations across Melbourne, Victoria, all of which were less than an hour’s drive from the CBD.

Judy and Punch marks Mirrah Foulkes’ feature directional debut and stars Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, The Kids Are All Right) and Damon Herriman (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Mindhunter).

Set in the fictional town of Seaside, Judy and Punch follows two puppeteers – the vain but charismatic Punch and his resilient and talented wife Judy – as they attempt to resurrect their show as a means of escaping their decrepit town.

Judy and Punch is a VICE Studios, Blue-Tongue Films and Pariah Productions film, produced by Michele Bennett (Chopper), Nash Edgerton (Mr Inbetween) and VICE Media’s Danny Gabai (The Bad Batch).

VICE Media Chief Creative Officer Eddy Moretti is an Executive Producer alongside Natalie Farrey, Jennifer Semler and Vincent Landay (Her, Being John Malkovich). Landay is no stranger to Melbourne, having spent time in the city in his role as a producer on Spike Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are.

Foulkes and Bennett worked with Film Victoria’s Location and Production Services team to scout locations and Bennett said sourcing Montsalvat in the Melbourne suburb of Eltham was like striking gold.

“Finding 17th century European locations in Australia was always going to be a challenge given our colonial history. Montsalvat was a great find and served as a multipurpose location for us. The forests around Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges were the perfect setting for our European exteriors.

“A huge bonus of all of the locations we used in the film was their proximity to the Melbourne CBD, meaning very little time was lost in travel.”

Montsalvat is the creation of Justus Jörgensen, a Melbourne-born artist and architect of German descent. Inspired by the villages of France, Jörgensen harnessed the collective enthusiasm and talents of his friends and students to build a series of Gothic buildings for artists’ studios and dwellings, as well as barns and a chapel. Over 80 years later, it still operates as a place where artists work and exhibit.

The Location Manager on Judy and Punch, Melbourne-based Stephen Brett, said Monsalvat also ticked the box in terms of logistics.

“Montsalvat provided an archetypal 17th century European village for both exterior and interior locations – and it sits on 12 acres of land so there was plenty of space and privacy for the cast and crew.”

A host of other film-friendly Melbourne locations feature in Judy and Punch including the Victorian-era mansion Labassa, Newport Railyards, Melba Spiegeltent and RJ Hamer Arboretum.

Sundance has been a great launching pad for Australian films with strong Victorian connections including Kitty Green’s Casting JonBenet in 2017, David Michôd’s Animal Kingdom in 2010 (World Cinema Jury Prize), Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek in 2005 and Scott Hicks’ Shine in 1996.

Judy and Punch received principal production investment from Vice Studios and Screen Australia. Film Victoria supported the production through its Assigned Production Investment program.

Find out more about Victoria’s filming locations and production incentives

Images: Ben King