Film crews have settled into Kiama and surrounds for the next few weeks after the Steve Jaggi Company chose the Illawarra to be the backdrop to his new film Rip Tide, with Bulli director Rhiannon Bannenberg at the helm.
Bannenberg first jumped into the spotlight with her feature film debut Ambrosia, which screened at Warrawong’s Gala Cinema in 2015.
It sparked the interests of Canadian/Australian producer Jaggi who recruited her as a cinematographer on two other films before choosing her to direct Rip Tide, describing her as “energetic and passionate”.
The movie stars Disney Channel regulars Debby Ryan and Naomi Sequeira, plus appearances from Jeremy Lindsay Taylor and Marcus Graham.
While the budget, Bannenberg said, is a “lot more than Ambrosia”.
“It can be overwhelming so it’s really good to stay focused,” she said. “[I’m] responsible for the whole journey of the story.”
Our protagonist is a young woman and she is supported by a whole group of strong independent women.Rhiannon Bannenberg
Originally from a music background, the 26-year-old has immersed herself in film production to learn as much as she could with the hard work paying off.
“The more I work in the industry the more people I’ve met and I found that everyone has a very different way they get into the film industry,” she said.
“With directing, some people come in from acting or production design ... and all of those skill are transferable and teach you something and make you a better director.”
The coming-of-age drama follows the story of Cora (played by Ryan), who flees New York for her aunty in Australia after a modelling mishap.
The beachside retreat doesn’t turn out to be the five-start holiday Cora expected, but as time goes by friendships and romance blossom until she is faced with a dilemma.
“I’m so thrilled to be working on a film predominantly for young teen girls … the message behind the film is really beautiful,” Bannenberg said.
“Our protagonist is a young woman and she is supported by a whole group of strong independent women from three generations … women drive the story.”
The film crew (which also mostly hail from the Illawarra) are trying to be a inconspicuous, but they may be spotted predominantly around Kiama, Saddleback Mountain and Shellhabour.
It follows several other production companies capitalising on Illawarra locations this year, including a number of Bollywood productions.