From runner to producer

Producer Liz Kearney reckons she’s a control freak. Picture: Marcus Whisson d407964
Producer Liz Kearney reckons she’s a control freak. Picture: Marcus Whisson d407964

‘Everyone else wanted all the glamorous jobs and I was the only one in the group who didn’t want to do that so was given all the organisational stuff and it sort of just went from there,’ she said.

‘I’m a control freak and like to know what’s going on which helps if you’re the producer. I’m there from the beginning right through to the very end and work with a lot of people along the way. It’s very satisfying.’

The former western suburbs producer, who worked as a runner on Cloud Street and in the Bran Nue Dae production office, now resides conveniently close to Luna Leederville, one of two Perth venues that will be screening her latest project.

Seventeen Australian directors have each filmed a chapter taken from Tim Winton’s book of individual stories, The Turning.

Kearney was given the second chapter, Abbreviation, to work on by mentor and producer Robert Connolly and immediately approached Broome director Jub Clerc to collaborate on the five-minute work.

‘When Rob came to us with the chapter he said we didn’t have to do what happens word for word, just to pick the elements that are at the heart of the story, which is the case of Abbreviation, (about) a boy of 14 who has his first crush,’ she said.

‘It’s about him meeting this girl on the beach and that memory being with him for the rest of his life. It’s a beautiful little story and I hope we were able to evoke all that wonder from when you’re young.’

Kearney had previously worked with Clerc at the Film and Television Institute in Fremantle and since then they have been looking for something else to team up on.

They decided to shoot the chapter in Broome, just up from Cable Beach, which Kearney said provided a point of difference to the South West coastline usually associated with Winton’s work.

‘From there we had to put together a plan, actors and crew, so a lot of it (was) logistical,’ she said.

‘Then it was working out how to get everything up to Broome, although it wasn’t too hard to talk everyone into going.

‘I (had) sold the shoot to people by saying they’d be spending two days on the beach in beautiful Broome, but when we got there it was stormy and we got rained out for half a day,’ Kearney said.

‘People turned to me and said it wasn’t the paradise I’d promised and then we had to work out how to salvage it.’