Hollywood comes to Bermagui

Fleta Page, Canberra Times

The visiting birdwatchers to Wallaga Lake had their binoculars out, but among the movie-makers, dog walkers, artists and curious locals, there were no sightings of superstar Angelina Jolie as Hollywood came to the South Coast.

Jolie had already left the country by the time a secondary production crew arrived in Bermagui to film a scene for her upcoming movie Unbroken.

The actress is directing rather than starring in the film about Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II.

The wooden Wallaga Lake Bridge will only be seen for a matter of seconds in the film, showing an army truck and vintage black Bentley driving from a prisoner of war camp over the bridge into Tokyo.

Despite the local landmark's small role, production crew spent Monday out scouting where to set up a scaffold platform in the Lake to film from, then were back at 6am Tuesday to set up for the arrival of the cars and extras shortly after.

Ferrying them around the lake were staff from Bermagui Bait and Tackle, who were slightly disappointed Jolie didn't make it to town.

“I'm sure it would have been nice to see her,” Josh McCue said.

While there was some excitement when they were first recruited to help out, they soon realised Jolie was unlikely to be on set.

“It's not a people scene – it's just a scenic shot, then someone told me she flew home two nights ago ... it would have been nice for the little town of Bermagui.”

Mr McCue was hanging around until further notice, with the crew getting shots of the vehicles crossing from every conceivable angle, and hoping for the sun to come out for a different view.

A number of curious onlookers came down to take a look at the action, but all discovered the reality of movie-making was perhaps not so exciting.

“There's a lot of standing around” local Ashley Fuller said, but she was happy the bridge was chosen for the shoot.

“We as a community have tried really hard to maintain these little wooden bridges because they're really part of the charm of this particular part the coast … so we're really pleased it's still here and somebody is using it.”

The bridge could take on a slightly different look in the finished product, with Mr McCue ferrying a photographer under and around the bridge to capture every angle so it could be digitally recreated to insert actors later.

A crew is filming Angelina Jolie's Unbroken in Bermagui.

A crew is filming Angelina Jolie's Unbroken in Bermagui.

“He said the cost of getting an actor here and his hangers-onerers and his people, it just costs too much so they leave them in the studio... they'll CGI it back in the studio.”

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