Ben Elton met challenge of directing Three Summers in remote WA


Ben Elton. Picture: Marie Nirme
Ben Elton. Picture: Marie Nirme

COMEDIAN Ben Elton set himself up for a huge challenge when he wrote a comedy film set at a rural music festival over three years.

Not only were the logistics of filming in a remote WA location and negotiating in-demand actors with tight schedules difficult to tackle, but Three Summers will be up against Hollywood blockbusters when it is released on November 2.

Three Summers follows a group of disparate characters whose paths cross when they attend an annual folk music festival each year for three years.

Elton, back in Perth after a four-week Australia-wide promotion tour, filmed the movie in the Peel region and said he wanted to make a film about ordinary people as opposed to superheroes.

“People are embracing it and saying ‘it’s real, it’s nice to see some ordinary stories,” he said.

“From The Castle through Muriel’s Wedding, there’s a tradition of that sort of storytelling in Australia because it’s all we can afford, so we have to rely on our actors and our stories and environments.

“We don’t have the budget to go to Mars or chase a car off a cliff.”

But making a low-key film still had its challenges.

“(It was) a logistical nightmare, genuinely hellish,” he said.

“We had a very small budget, we were a very long away from a number of our lead players’ home, trying to assemble everyone in Pinjarra; hard work to do.

“One of problems with WA is it’s so f***ing big, the distance even for local people is massive.

“But it’s exciting.”

Elton said his first assistant director John Fairhead saved the day each time.

“The man is quite brilliant; every day he fought with the weather, budget, the clock and what we were doing the following day and people flying in and flying out,” he said.

Elton urged audiences to seek films other than blockbusters.

“In a world of Thor, this week it’s cardboard cut-outs of Thor then next week its Spider-Man and you wanna say ‘there’s another film, a different experience’,” he said.

Three Summers is in cinemas November 2.