An international film producer has again chosen the Illawarra as the backdrop to one of his movies, bringing another Disney Channel star to the region.
Sofia Wylie, best-known as Buggy Driscoll in Andi Mack, takes the lead in the young-adult feature Back of the Net, produced by The Steve Jaggi Company.
Over the next few weeks scenes will be shot around Wollongong and Kiama, including a strong presence at the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus.
“If you look at the bulk of Australian films, they are usually shot in Sydney or Melbourne and they tend to be quite mature, dramatic films,” Jaggi said, noting there was a lack of family friendly films suitable for ages 8-10 and up.
“Australian films are not big budget films and we’re competing with Hollywood movies. To be able to deliver a film to audiences that’s on par with what our competitors are doing over in The States, it’s much more feasible to do that shooting somewhere like in the Illawarra.”
The success of the company’s previous G-rated movie Rip Tide (released in 2017 and starred Disney favourite Debby Ryan) was another driving factor to set up in the region, he said.
Shot predominantly around Kiama, it came in at number 10 on the list for top grossing Australian films. It was also picked up internationally by Netflix, trending for the first two months of release.
“[Someone from the US] sent a screen capture and it was on the front page of Netflix right next to Stranger Things – which was a career highlight, it was very humbling,” Jaggi said.
While using internationally recognisable faces such as Ryan or Wylie was another key to getting people through the cinema doors, he added.
Wylie steps into the role of young science fanatic Cory Bailey, who mistakenly boards the bus for the Harold Soccer Academy instead of the Harold Academy Semester at Sea. When the boat leaves without her she has no choice but to complete the semester at the soccer academy.
Back of the Net is set to be an inspirational sport-comedy for tweens and celebrates diversity with a talented and culturally diverse young cast including Gemma Chua-Tran, Trae Robin, Tiarnie Coupland, Raj Labade, Yasmin Honeychurch and Ashleigh Ross.
“Back of the Net will be a tween girlfriends’ date movie, incorporating themes of independence, resilience, teamwork and of course friendship. To be filming in this beautiful region of NSW is icing on the cake,” director Louise Alston said.
The film was written by US-based writers Cassie Tabanou and Alison Spuck, developed from an original idea by Adelaide writer/director Clay Glen. It will be released in cinemas nationally later this year.
The Steve Jaggi Company has also sourced a large contingent of employees and equipment from the Illawarra also.
ABOUT THE FILM
After hopping on a bus to Harold Soccer Academy instead of Harold Academy Australian Semester at Sea, science fanatic, Cory Bailey (Sofia Wylie) has no choice but to complete a semester at the soccer academy when the boat leaves without her and she's unable to join her parents while they volunteer in remote India.
Though unimpressed with being surrounded by "silly" jocks, it's not long until Cory embraces her roommates hospitality. It's also not long until the school's superstar player, Evie begins to make life difficult for Cory. With the school hosting the National Soccer Tournament, Cory is determined to combine her team's various skills to beat Evie's team in the finals