#wahomegrownhustle – Below

Written by Vikki Barr – 1st Assistant Director

Below, the debut feature film for WA director Maziar Lahooti is coming to the big screen soon.

In a near-future, the film centres on the directionless darknet grifter Dougie, who is recruited to work in a refugee detention centre where he discovers an underground Fight Club-style operation blackmailing detainees to fight for profit. When tragedy strikes courageous fighter Azad, Dougie locates his hitherto dormant conscience and takes a stand.

Back in 2019, in the height of a typical Perth summer, a small WA crew was involved in shooting this Screenwest West Coast Visions winner.

Starring Ryan Corr and Anthony LaPaglia the film also features Phoenix Raei with whom a lot of the Perth crew have worked with on both series of The Heights for the ABC.

Also starring on the production were Fremantle Prison and Rockingham’s Lake Walyungup.

The production scored a first for the WA screen industry by being given permission to film inside Fremantle prison for a length of time. We utilised the location like a studio location, using single large spaces and turning them into several sets within, so reducing the amount of set moves. It was a challenge juggling between the location’s major restrictions, including a concert by Icehouse and the music checks leading up to it, stopping work whilst tours went through the middle of set – sometimes on the hour – not to mention the ‘ghosts’ hanging around some parts of the prison.

We spent our last week shooting scenes on Lake Walyungup, known to locals as a Salt Lake, but I think officially is classified as a clay pan. This is where we shot all of the cage fights. In preproduction everyone prepared for the eventuality of getting double sunburn from the sun above and the reflection of the lake below, and we all received a protective bandana from the producers, which we all wore in some fashion. 

Below was a relatively smooth shoot to work on, a close knit team but more importantly due to the fact that the Heads of Departments were all seasoned professionals who were able to work efficiently, effortlessly and able to trouble shoot effectively – what I call the three E’s – meaning we were able to shoot the call sheet every day and only go into a small amount of overtime on the last day – cos we could!

The only shoot I’ve been on where every single crew member received a cash gift card for Valentine’s Day!

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