It is rare to have two films shot in a regional Australian centre at once, according to much-loved Australian actor and comedian Peter Rowsthorn.

On one side of town in Albany a major production of zombie film We Bury The Dead, starring Hollywood A-lister Daisy Ridley, has been underway, its budget estimated at nearly $8 million.

On the other side of town community-funded black comedy crime caper Frederickstown is being shot on a shoestring budget of $250,000.

“It’s a bit like the Barbie and Oppenheimer thing,” Rowsthorn said.

crew standing around with microphones filimg on beach

Hollywood production We Bury the Dead filming at one of Albany’s scenic beaches.(Supplied)

Black comedy vs zombie action

The actor, famous for his role as Brett in popular Australian comedy Kath & Kim, spent several weeks in Albany shooting Frederickstown with actors such as Myles Pollard, Trevor Jamieson, and Travis Jeffries.

It is written by local filmmaker Adam Morris and funded by the community.

Take shot start man holding film information in front of camera before filming scene

Director Adam Morris is particularly proud of Frederickstown given the small budget and community involvement.(ABC Great Southern: Lauren Smith)

Both films wrapped up shooting earlier this month, and while there was cheeky competition during filming, Rowsthorn said it was a good sign for WA’s film industry.

“It is extremely odd that this tiny little town has one giant film [shot] in it that’s probably going to have worldwide release and a tiny, tiny little one which is also hopefully going to have a spot in a worldwide film festival,” Rowsthorn said.

man wearing green shirt looking to the left and smiling

Peter Rowsthorn on the set of Frederickstown.(ABC Great Southern: Lauren Smith)

Rowsthorn said he decided to take on the role as a “psychopathic killer” after just a quick glance at the script. 

“It is so different to anything I’ve done before,” he said.

“Playing a psychopathic killer isn’t in my wheelhouse normally. It’s there, but never had a chance to get out.”

Man wearing hat with beard rubbing hands together and smiling while filming a scene for movie

Director Adam Morris on the set of Frederickstown.(ABC Great Southern: Lauren Smith)

It is Morris’ third feature film and he is particularly proud given the small budget and community involvement.

“We have to be efficient otherwise we can’t get it done,” he said.

“If you are one of our sponsors or patrons and you give us a dollar, we spend every penny of that dollar and we spend it very carefully.”

single arm holding production information

Frederickstown will be local director Adam Morris’s third feature film.(ABC Great Southern: Lauren Smith)

It is not just cold hard cash being donated, Morris said local locations were scouted and generously provided by local business and groups as film sets.

“Although it might be a limitation it’s a real strength,” he said.

“You can’t re-create this kind of stuff even if you had millions of dollars.”

Hollywood comes to town

We Bury The Dead sparked plenty of interest in the south coast city with many hoping to spot star Daisy Ridley, who gained international fame in a Star Wars trilogy.

Profile of a man overlooking a beach.

West Australian writer and director Zak Hilditch in Albany for the production of We Bury the Dead.(Supplied)

West Australian writer and director Zak Hilditch thanked the community for its support after closing off several streets for filming. 

“We have had the most incredible time filming in Albany,” he said.

“I couldn’t think of a better backdrop to shoot We Bury The Dead with Albany’s stunning landscapes and rich history, and the people of Albany have been so welcoming and excited to have us here showcasing their beautiful city.

“We have been so grateful to everyone who has literally open their doors to allow us to film in their houses, or shut down streets for us.”

A film set.

The streets of Albany have been buzzing with film production for We Bury the Dead.(Supplied)

Booming WA film industry

The filming comes as WA’s big and small screen industry grows.

Just this week Before Dawn premiered at Cinefest Albany, a war film shot in Esperance

It comes off the back of the filming of Blueback, Breath, and Rams on the south coast in recent years.

In 2022-23 the state government announced funding of nearly $19 million to draw more production to the state.

And with the booming industry comes the demand for actors.

Man standing with arms cross on film set

Myles Pollard on the set of Frederickstown.(ABC Great Southern: Lauren Smith)

Myles Pollard, who has been involved in many recent projects across the state such as series Invisible Boys and miniseries The Twelve, said it was great to be so busy.

Pollard said while the experiences do differ the end goal is the same.

“There is always a big difference between shooting a big, commercial movie, big budget movie,” he said.

Adam Morris said while it was great to attract bigger productions to smaller regions, he believed local communities were still keen to invest in local, grass roots productions.

“There is no reason why we can’t have a film hub here in the Great Southern. The community has shown there is a real thirst for it,” he said.

Mr Morris said he was still able to attract “some of the best talent in the country”.

“We are able to bring superstar actors like Peter Rowsthorn, Trevor Jamieson, Myles Pollard, and Travis Jeffries — who was in the last Planet of the Apes film,” he said.

Locals welcome film crews

The owner of Rainbow Wreckers, Robert Wolfenden, offered his small business as a set to film some scenes.

Man with long white beard sitting in front of car frame

Robert Wolfenden volunteered his business as a shooting location for the film. (ABC Great Southern: Lauren Smith)

“If we don’t help the smaller productions the industry will die. You’ve got to keep things happening,” he said.

“To find local businesses that will open up is quite hard, but we are always happy to help out.”

Mr Wolfenden said he cannot wait to watch the finished product.

“I’ve chosen not to watch any of the footage. I want to see the whole finished product put together,” he said.

“I know how much effort went in to making every little scene.”

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