Finding and shooting locations in South Australia
When talking to people who work in film and television and asking them about their career path, we often hear of long battles of being runners, working for free, and crew ending up questioning if they made the right decision – not so Sylvia Warmer, a location manager and assistant producer with a proven track record.
“At university, I applied for the wrong course by mistake but decided to give film production a go before transferring. I enjoyed the course so much that I never changed.” Student shorts led to work experience, which in turn led to more and more actual contracts.
Working as a location manager
“My first location assistant job was on a feature film – Broken Hill, and the location manager Sarah Abbey needed additional help with paperwork, as there were quite a number of locations to secure. Abbey then requested that I stay on for the duration of the job and subsequently any other feature she was working on thereafter. “
So what would Warmer describe as the challenges of her job? “Like many production roles working in locations can be taxing at times,” she says,” but it can also be very rewarding; you meet many new friends, make new connections and have the opportunity to visit some breath-taking locations.
“My advice for getting in to the local industry is to volunteer for a week or so as you will either sink or swim very quickly. If you swim, and are adaptable with a strong work ethic, people will continually re-hire you. I think the last time I had an actual job interview was nearly ten years ago.”
When a hard job pays off
Recently Warmer filmed Tracks, a beautiful film starring Mia Wasikowska that got praise when it screened at festivals such as the Venice Film Festival and TIFF in Canada. The film shot in some pretty challenging conditions in southern Australia (as you can read here) and though Warner was fulsome on the many rewards of filming in the outback she stressed the need for preparation.
“Filming in the outback can be hazardous and seemingly isolated, but it can also be the most rewarding and fun experience. You are given the opportunity to live, see and experience a side of the country that not many people do.
“In the outback, the locals are amazing, they are used to being self-sufficient, pitching in and helping each other out and nothing fazes them.
“I highly recommend filming on location, having the landscape becoming a character within the film.”
The past, present and future
Unfortunately for the industry, Warmer has recently made a conscious decision to move out of location management to pursue a career in producing, a move which build on her previous experience working as a production secretary on Snowtown.
For the last twelve months, Warmer has been working as assistant to producer Liz Watts on The Rover, starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. From director David Michôd, it is the follow-up to his acclaimed feature Animal Kingdom.
“I recently made a conscious decision to move out of location management to continue pursuing a career in producing. I had previous experience working as a production secretary on Snowtown. For the past twelve months, I have been working as assistant to producer Liz Watts on the upcoming feature The Rover, directed by David Michôd and starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson. It is the follow up to Michôd’s universally acclaimed Animal Kingdom, and shot on various locations around South Australia.”
Describing the varying landscapes she says: “Although The Rover shot in many of the same areas as Tracks, the northern landscape of South Australia is so different every way you look that both films come across as being very much extremes of one another. This,” she adds,” is also a testament to the filmmakers involved in both productions.”
You can watch a trailer for Tracks below.
Sylvia Warmer’s credits include The Boys Are Back, Oranges and Sunshine, Red Dog and Here I Am. We would like to thank her for all her time and expertise in compiling this article, and wish her well for all future projects.
For more on filming in Australia, please go to our country guide.