Luke Sparke’s Hollywood epic Occupation saw Australia covered in aliens, explosions and gunfire, and now producers have confirmed the sequel will bring war to the Hunter in the form of an action sequence.
The blockbuster’s production crew spent a day in Wangi Wangi scouting locations that had a “post-apocalyptic feel”, Sparke said, and although the exact staging ground for the Newcastle-born director’s war will be confirmed upon arrival, an abandoned power station in the area is the most likely candidate.
It’s estimated filming will begin in the next six weeks, with a large number of the cast and crew also attending the shoot. That may include starring actors like Dan Ewing, Temuera Morrison and Stephany Jacobsen, all of whom had key roles in the first film.
For many, a big movie production coming to town will be interesting – for home-grown actor Zac Garred, who will join the cast in the Newcastle shoot, it’s all his childhood dreams come true.
Garred, who plays homeless man turned action hero Dennis in the first installment of the Occupation series, described the chance to film a scene from the upcoming sequel like playing on home turf.
“When I was young I used to play a lot of cricket around the place, and especially at Regent Park [in New Lambton], and when I was there I felt unbeatable,” he said. “It felt like home turf, and that’s what it feels like to be able to bring everything I do with the movies back to Newcastle.”
“When I was younger me and my mates made a lot of short films and mucked around in the streets pretending to be in Jurassic Park and a lot of action movies. Now I get to do that for real, and it’s really surreal.”
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Garred, who last featured in a full-length film in his hometown back in 2008 when he took to the waves in Dan Castle’s Newcastle, has taken the time to attend a number of screenings of the first movie, and said he was “blown away” by the positive reception.
“It’s been so awesome to see how everyone has received it, especially here in Newy,” he said. “I want to make sure when we come here and film some scenes that we can get everyone who’s interested involved.”
“That’s a big part of the experience for Luke [Sparke], and for everyone involved – we want to get the whole community onboard and have it be a truly Australian production that has been made by people from around the country every step of the way.”
As well as the chance for the Hunter region to welcome a Hollywood production to the area, two local residents will have a chance to earn themselves walk-on role as extras, with Occupation’s media campaign offering up promotional prizes.
To enter the competition, residents simply have to buy a ticket to Occupation at Readings Cinemas in Charlestown, or Majestic Cinemas in Singleton, and email a picture of their ticket stub, as well as their name and number, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Competition winners will be drawn when the film’s cinema run is complete.
Occupation’s production team has also called on local businesses like caterers and accommodation providers that want to be involved in the making of the movie to contact them through the same email address.