Having only just finished shooting his new film Book Week in the Blue Mountains, Australian filmmaker Heath Davis (Broke) has decamped to Broken Hill to lens Locusts, a neo-noir Western thriller written by Angus Watts. Additional photography will take place in Sydney.
The film follows a tech entrepreneur who reluctantly returns to his remote hometown for his father’s funeral and must deal with old family tensions as he’s reunited with his wise-cracking ex-con brother. However, when a gang of desperate small-town thugs from their father’s shady past show up, the brothers become entangled in a deadly
extortion racket that exposes the dark underbelly of the sleepy town. Ben Geurens (Reign), Nathaniel Dean (Alien: Covenant; Candy), Jessica McNamee (The Meg, CHIPS, Battle of the Sexes), Justin Rosniak (Animal Kingdom, Broke), Steve Le Marquand (A Few Best Men, Two Hands, Broke), and Damian Hill (Pawno, West Of Sunshine) star.
“We looked around Australia for a regional center that would fit,” Watts explains. “Including Coober Pedy and Winton, both amazing unique locations. But in the end we chose Broken Hill for its iconic vista landscapes, its resources as a filmmaking hub, and logistically it made sense with direct flight access out of Sydney and Adelaide.
“Driving around the Hill is a bit like a tour of Australian cinematic history – there are iconic props and locations everywhere you look, from Wake In Fright to Mad Max to Priscilla to Razorback to Last Cab. So shooting here in a way feels like the heartland of Australian cinema, and there’s a palpable buzz of excitement amongst the cast and crew, just being here.”
As for the script, Watts says he drew inspiration from his own rural upbringing. “I grew up in a small town in NSW, which I don’t like to mention at State of Origin time, that’s had more than its share of hard times through drought and erosion, and as a Queenslander I’ve seen firsthand the economic roller coaster that’s stemmed from the mining boom in regional areas. So, the fictional town in this film is an extension of this idea.”
Also in the cast is Rabbitohs rugby league big man George Burgess, making his acting debut. “George is a man of many talents, and it’s probably not well known that off the rugby league paddock he’s had acting ambitions for some time, perhaps fueled by South Sydney boss Russell Crowe. George has had formal acting tuition, and was involved in a proof of concept I did a few years ago, so when he expressed interest in coming on board, Heath and I decided to audition him for a somewhat physical role with some guidance from screen legend Alan Dukes, and suffice to say he passed with flying colours.”
Locusts will be distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Bonsai Films.