It's hoped a new comedy drama series filmed in the Illawarra will elevate Wollongong to star status, just as Home and Away has put Palm Beach on the map.
Producers of Whirld managed to draw in exceptional talent like actor Beth Champion (Brides of Christ, Seven Deadly Sins), award-winning cinematographer Glenn Hanns and local music icon Jodi Phillis to create an initial five episodes for the web which will serve as the pilot, or "proof of concept" to pitch to television and streaming networks.
"The idea grew from a short film concept into a much longer form concept of a television series which we have approximately three seasons mapped out," said Karen Illesca of 2Kats Productions. "We're hoping to really get creative industry growing in the Illawarra, we've got a slate of about 10 projects we want to do ... and we'd love Whirld and the other projects we do to bring lots of exposure and tourism to the area."
The idea was sparked about 14 years ago, but it wasn't until Ms Illesca met creative partner Phillippa Webb and the pair concocted a raft of ideas they wanted to accomplish now their children had grown up.
"This is the first of about 10 ideas that we'd like to pursue over next 10 to15 years," Ms Illesca said. "This includes biopics of local well known people, another television series that deals with the challenges of ageing and a couple of features up our sleeves as well."
Whirld follows the life, love, family and work of quirky character Tay, a disgraced psychologist who has to "redirect her life after imploding both personally and professionally". Viewers will not only notice a distinct Illawarra flavour with footage of Icon Bar and the Mangerton Corner Store, the majority of the cast and crew are from the region.
Katherine Edmonds, who plays the role of Jo Blake, said it was great to get more productions happening in the Illawarra as there weren't many opportunities for professional screen work despite many opportunities in theatre.
"I think Whirld sums up, I would say, most of us who are working mothers and working women feel juggling a bunch of things at once," she said of the show. "Having all the insecurities and all of the life forces that go on in the background that you have to deal with, and trying to still have your place and remember who you are."
Currently the program is in post-production with more sponsors sought, though Ms Illesca said they are on track to premier in September.
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