By HARRY MUSGROVE
A Geelong actor’s passion for his town and the local film industry has helped in the development of a big budget production.
Luke Saliba, 31, said private investors were attracted to his feature film Paper Champions because it would be fully shot in Geelong.
“Almost all of them invest in real estate which is safe … whereas film isn’t. A lot of them invested in Geelong, and invested in us, and invested in a film industry for Geelong,” Saliba said.
This time last year, a pilot for Paper Champions was being shot on a miniscule budget, the script having only just been completed in early 2017.
“I paid for a lot of it myself but also raised funds on Kickstarter,” Saliba said.
Paper Champions introduces character Rey, who has lost power, prestige and the ability to cope, but is assisted by his enigmatic Polynesian work colleague (John Tui), a wrestler and a dance teacher, in regaining a sense of self.
Luke Saliba is working on his new film. Picture: Harry Musgrove
The feature film based on that pilot has a strong cast of Australian actors and well-known producers on board. Some actors were approached directly, while others showed interest and auditioned for roles, including Gary Sweet (Alexandra’s Project, Police Rescue).
“People like Genevieve Morris [Blue Heelers, Comedy Inc] – I wrote a character with her in mind, and then we approached her. She liked it and was keen to do it,” he said.
Paper Champions is in its 11th week of editing, and is set for cinema release early next year.
“The plan is it’ll be released in April (2020). We’ll probably do a festival premiere before it’s released,” Saliba said.
Saliba is a Geelong-based actor and teacher, best known for his work in coaching young performers, and his appearances in Netflix comedy Rostered On and TV drama The Doctor Blake Mysteries.
Luke Saliba, Gary Sweet and John Tui in a scene from Paper Champions