Crew for Stan series Scrublands: Silver reflect on ideal coastal destination for TV production

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Producer Martha Coleman with actors Luke Arnold and Bella Heathcote alongside director Ben Young.
Camera IconProducer Martha Coleman with actors Luke Arnold and Bella Heathcote alongside director Ben Young. Credit: David Dare Parker/Photograph by David Dare Parker

The cast and crew of Stan crime drama Scrublands have reported mixed feelings about their pending wrap on their season two shoot in Augusta.

Production has taken over the seaside town and brought a welcome boost to the economy at the outset of winter, before filming concludes on July 12.

Rhetoric aside, co-producer Martha Coleman from Third Act Stories and the Australian show’s leading stars expressed a deep fondness for the coastal hamlet.

Coleman told the Times the visiting film crew quickly felt at home in Augusta after residents embraced the production and opened their doors and businesses to the cast, which included lead actors Bella Heathcote and Luke Arnold.

But Coleman said many genuinely felt there was something “incredibly special” about Augusta and its surrounds and she urged local authorities to protect its existing character against future over-development.

“It’s like a coastal town from my childhood in that it hasn’t been ruined,” Coleman said.

“It’s not become something it’s not.

“It’s like the gift that keeps giving. We’ve got all of our locations there.”

Operating under the code name Silver, the Stan series sees Arnold’s journalist character return to his WA home town with his girlfriend, played by Heathcote.

As is typical of crime dramas, things soon turn pear-shaped.

Arnold said he appreciated the warm welcome from the Augusta community.

“It didn’t take long for people to start talking about wanting to move here,” he said.

“We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful location both on-screen and off.

“Everybody is filling their weekends with incredible food, wine, and adventure.”

Coleman and Heathcote also talked up the region’s scenic beauty.

“Augusta is so stunningly beautiful and the people here have been nothing but warm and welcoming,” Heathcote said.

“The best thing about shooting in pre-existing locations is that it feels like I’ve been taken on this weeks-long tour of the town: from the lighthouse to Ellis Street Jetty and everything around and between.

“I’ll be sad to say goodbye.”

Coleman said scoping for the series was undertaken during a magical summer, but when wintry conditions set in on day one of shooting at the Ellis Street Jetty, the directors chose to lean into the powerful natural feel of the region.

That included long days shooting at Flinders and Hamelin Bay, which had transformed since summer from a pristine white-sand beach to a wild and seaweed-wracked locale.

“We shifted our focus on the location not being pristine, but powerful,” the co-producer said.

“We wanted a coastal town that hasn’t yet been gone over by the developers.”

Coleman herself had moved her company back to Perth during the pandemic and the partnership with east coast company Easy Tiger — rumoured to be shooting some additional scenes in Augusta for their separate production The Twelve — mean idyllic places like the town and other parts of the Margaret River region are likely to appear in future shows.

Coleman said despite the stiff drive from Perth, the region was relatively well set-up to support a burgeoning film industry and local and State authorities had “bent over backwards” to smooth out any problems.

The biggest challenge faced was with telecommunications.

The region’s woeful broadband and phone system have raised the ire of South West creatives for years, and while the Stan production had its own unit van to help when in dead zones like Hamelin Bay, greater investment was needed on that front if authorities wanted to get serious about supporting local creative industries, she said.

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