/News 31.01.24

Australian Post & VFX Shines in Hulu’s Faraway Downs

Holding Kodak’s record for the most film reel ever captured for a single movie, Baz Luhrmann’s 2008 epic Australia was always a prime candidate for an extended cut. But it wasn’t until Covid put a pause on the production of Elvis that Luhrmann finally seized upon the chance to revisit the project, unearthing hundreds of hours of unused footage stored in the salt mines of Kansas, in order to recut the film into a six-part streaming series dubbed Faraway Downs.

“With over two-million feet of film from the original, my team and I were able to revisit anew the central themes of the work,” Luhrmann told viewers at the premiere screening of Faraway Downs. “There’s quite a few sequences we shot that enhance the story, but we had to cut them [from the original] for time.”

“People say, why’d you do it? I say, well, blame Tom Hanks. When we were about to shoot Elvis, Tom, rather famously, was the first person to get COVID-19, causing production to shut down… I started thinking about what I would do.”

Baz Luhrmann – Director

Producers of the series have said they’re incredibly proud of how they managed to reassemble the footage into the new six part series, and praised the many vendors who stood by the production during the numerous shut-downs, border closures and other challenges.

Photo: Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Helping to bring the new directors’ cut to life were the screen agencies of Australian states New South Wales and Queensland, whose respective Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) incentives provided substantial support. With the majority of post-production work taking place in New South Wales, alongside the important contribution from Queensland vendors, producers have described the assistance provided by both Screen NSW and Screen Queensland as invaluable. Screen Territory also continued to be an important resource on the project.

“When the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in 2020, Baz decided to use the halt in production [on Elvis] as an opportunity to produce a director’s cut of his feature, Australia,” explains producer Catherine Knapman.

“We were grateful that Screen NSW immediately came on board in support of NSW companies, by providing a PDV incentive to Faraway Downs.”

Catherine Knapman – Producer

With shots not seen in the original film requiring additional CGI work to complete the project, FIN Design + Effects, based in New South Wales, was the lead VFX vendor for Faraway Downs while Resin handled several key VFX shots from their Queensland base.

“FIN had the capacity, the timing was right, and importantly had experienced personnel available in NSW. FIN proved to be both flexible and creative. The work involved creating new shots and working with effects from the original 2008 movie. We appreciated FIN’s collaborative and ‘can-do’ approach. By necessity, the reviews were remote – FIN took feedback on board and turned around the shots promptly.”

Catherine Knapman – Producer

Post-production house The Post Lounge handled Reviews, DI, Grade and Delivery for the new series edit, with this work primarily completed in Queensland, while also providing picture editing equipment from their New South Wales studio.

Catherine Martin reviewing Faraway Downs at The Post Lounge. Image courtesy of Bazmark.

“The partnership with The Post Lounge in Brisbane delivered exceptional results in picture editorial, colour correct and picture finishing, while launching a collaboration with TPL that would extend over to Elvis and future projects.”

Schuyler Weiss – Producer, Bazmark
Bazmark post-production office on the Gold Coast. Image courtesy of Bazmark.

“We were able to work with an exceptional team and world class facilities at both The Post Lounge and Resin… Furthermore, the production’s ability to access the PDV Incentive from Screen Queensland made this scenario a viable option. I wouldn’t hesitate in making a similar recommendation for other film productions to perform their post work in Queensland again.”

Henry Karjalainen – Post-Production Supervisor

When it came to the sound and music, two New South Wales vendors were tasked with delivering the audio tracks for the new project. Long time collaborators Big Bang Sound Design mixed Faraway Downs and supplied sound editing and sound post-production, including ADR, while Trackdown in Sydney handled music editing. Having worked on the previous film, Big Bang Sound Design’s archives also yielded a wealth of material which was utilised in the new series.

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Faraway Downs is available to stream now in all its splendour on Hulu in the US and Disney+ internationally.