Daily Archives: June 13, 2021

Oyster Farmer Trivia – #AlexOLoughlin’s Debut as a Leading Man

Going back to the start of Alex’s career as a leading man in the Australian movie Oyster Farmer, released in 2005.

Some parts of this was once a post on AOLR and the information is mostly derived from the extras on the DVD.

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Nominated for Best Picture at the 2005 AFI awards, OYSTER FARMER, written and directed by Anna Reeves world premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was one of the highest grossing independent films at the Australian box office.

The film launched Alex O’Loughlin’s career and stars Jack Thompson, Kerry Armstrong and David Field and is set on the beautiful Hawkesbury River outside Sydney.

Notably OYSTER FARMER was selected as the opening film for the Commonwealth film festival.

Released June 2005

‘A remarkably assured debut for writer/director Anna Reeves, whose characters have enough grit to turn an oyster into a pearl… The best Australian film of the year’

Urban Cinefile

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• Oyster Farmer was filmed in late 2003 during the spring/early summer (in Australia) and took 33 days to shoot. (Remember Spring in Australia is around September to November)
• The filming locations along the Hawkesbury River were so remote, that only four of the 19 locations were accessible by road.

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• The river’s tide moves rapidly between high and low, so shooting schedules and crew call times had to be planned with the help of a tide chart.
• In some locations the crew found themselves knee-deep in water at high tide and the entire production was stranded one night in the rain on mudflats.

“The tide waits for no-one,” was a phrase the crew used a lot.
• Many local oyster farmers had speaking and non-speaking parts in the film.

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Scaffolder Gary Henderson (Oyster Farmer Barry) was found on a building site by Alex O’Loughlin, who recommended him to Anna Reeves.
• As writer/director Anna Reeves had written the role of Brownie’s wife, Trish, with Kerry Armstrong in mind. She was one of the first actors to be cast.

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• Finding someone to play the lead role of Jack Flange was more challenging.

“You go down to the beach and there’s all these gorgeous young men who could play Jack Flange but they probably couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag,” Anna says.

“I had to find an actor who was convincing as a man oyster farmers would give a job to, he had to look like he’d done hard physical work. But I knew I would recognize the qualities when I found the right actor

…….and Alex walked in. He was so keen and I knew he would have the courage to play the role and give it his all.”

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David Field (Brownie) and Alex O’Loughlin (Jack Flange), went camping on the banks of the Hawkesbury to immerse themselves in the river life and get acquainted with the locals prior to shooting the film. Alex recalls,

“We hired a boat, found a little beach somewhere up the river and rolled out our swags. We went fishing, ate fresh fish, talked about the script… it was great.

It’s so peaceful on the river, the air is clean, there’s wildlife and trees. It has its own little sub-climate and that has an interesting effect on you.”

David Field says of Alex O’Loughlin and Diana Glenn (Pearl) that they are

“wonderful discoveries, with great chemistry on screen.”

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Alex O’Loughlin bonded with Brady Kitchingham, the boy who played Heath Sweetwater.
• As Australia Post did not want to be associated with a robbery, even a fictitious one, the production had to create their own postal services for the film: Allied Post. As the local post office in Brooklyn, where Oyster Farmer was filmed, was privately owned, the customization was easily implemented.

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• Producer Anthony Buckley states in the DVD commentary that the bathtub Mumbles renovated for Trish stands on his veranda. It’s

“operational but I can tell you, it’s bloody uncomfortable.”

• Mature women would continually ask Anthony Buckley about Alex’s tattoos.

“‘Are the tats real, Tony?’ ‘Yes, they are, much to the make-up artist’s consternation.’

They seem to be quite intrigued with Alex’s tats, so I hope he realizes that if he’s interested in older women. There’s a mature market”.

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Alex O’Loughlin had to eat a lot of boysenberry fruit wrap for the robbery scene, which was inspired by Australian icon Edward “Ned” Kelly.

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Anna Reeves says that

“you had to have a great sense of humour to be part of Oyster Farmer.”

Two memorable occasions for her:

o “… like the sex scene with what feels like the Spanish Armada parked off the end of the jetty.”

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o There was only one morning available to shoot the train sequence, with just seven minutes on the line between the two stops they wanted to shoot. They were allowed to get on the train going one way, but they weren’t permitted to go back as it was peak time going to Sydney.

“We’d have to pack up and pile out at the station, make a mad dash across the tracks and leap into a boat with two massive motors — and we’d literally race the train back down the tracks, carry our gear across the overpass over the station, and wait on the platform for the next train to come. It was like making a documentary – guerilla style and highly entertaining as well.”

 Short clip from a video review about Oyster Farmer:

Transcript:

Anna: I’ve been asked about Alex.

And … “Where did you find Alex?” .. Where does Alex come from?

And that’s so exciting. ‘Cos, you know, when you casting ….. that’s why  … that’s why you cast.

You think, you know, “This is a leading man” and I’m going to ….  you know …. and try and give him a platform.

And when you know that it’s worked, it’s really, really satisfying.

I always find this little interview so cute – Highly pregnant Anna Reeves getting so excited about the young Alex.

And Alex just sitting there – maybe the only time we have even seen him not trying to also say something. 🙂

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