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Romancing K’gari island in He Loves Me Not

Exclusive insights into He Loves Me Not filming

SET against the breathtaking backdrop of K’gari, amidst the logistical challenges of island filming and the collaborative spirit of a close-knit crew, Jeremy Stanford, film writer and producer, shares exclusive insights into the making of He Loves Me Not with Jocelyn Magazine.

Stanford, renowned for his previous work, performing in many lead roles in musicals, plays, and most Australian TV staples, sheds light on the unique challenges and advantages that come with filming on this island paradise.

As the production continues, Stanford also discusses the film’s integration of local culture, the response from the Fraser Coast community, and the initiatives undertaken to give back to the very community that supports Fraser Coast Film’s cinematic endeavours.

What emerges is a tale of resilience, creativity, and community spirit, woven intricately into the fabric of film-making on K’gari island. Read on to find out what Stanford has to say.

K'gari island - He Loves Me Not cast

The talented lineup of renowned Australian actors include Rhiannon Fish, famous for her roles in Home and Away and The 100, as the lead character, Holiday. Lincoln Lewis, known for his appearances in Tomorrow, When the War Began, and Home and Away, stars as Adam. Other outstanding stars include Georgie Parker as Marissa, Sean Perez as Mikey, Naomi Sequeira as Jemma, Bonnie Sveen as Tracey, and Candice Hill (photo unavailable) as Bella. Photos: Contributed.

Q & A Spotlight

What are the challenges and advantages of filming on K’gari island?

Let’s start with the challenges. Because it’s being filmed on an island, everything we have, we have to bring over with us.

We had a lot of cars to bring, plus camera equipment, lighting equipment, sound equipment, costumes, and the art department; all of that had to come over on the barges and we had to find somewhere to put it.

So, at the moment, it’s in everybody’s villas or hotel rooms being sorted through. We’re cramped and living in each other’s pockets.

Another challenge is that if we don’t have something we need, we have to go to the mainland to get it.

Those are the logistical challenges where we have to think ahead. A lot of pre-planning went into putting this shoot together.

The advantages are that we’re all staying and living in the same place, and working in the same place.

So, at night we’ll come back and we’ll finish the day, have dinner, and we can start talking about what is going to happen the next day; pre-planning.

People are getting to know each other and having dinner. It’s a really collegiate kind of environment to make a film.

Usually, people will just get in their cars and go home, but for us, we just go back to our hotel rooms.

Has the local environment influenced any creative decisions?

When we conceived this film, we came over to K’gari and spoke with the managing director of Kingfisher Bay Resort, to make sure they were happy to partner with us, and for us to come here and make this film.

We didn’t put pen to paper before we got their okay. Once they said they were interested and they wanted to be part of it, we created the script literally around the resort.

So, Tam (Sainsbury) and I were literally by the pool talking about story ideas and where we could set each scene. We walked around the resort and we went to Lake McKenzie and Pile Valley.

We drove around the island and the film came out of it. As a result, we want K’gari itself to be a character in the film. So, we’ve put some of the history of the island into it, and the locations, plus we wanted to put some indigenous story into it as well.

So, we partnered with the Butchulla people and there’s a planned to be a Welcome to Country in the film that talks a little about their story and the indigenous history of the island too. That way, we create a really rounded picture of what this place is.

K'gari Island

Several scenes in He Loves Me Not are being shot at K’gari’s iconic freshwater Lake McKenzie. Photo: Shutterstock.

How many extras are there involved in the filming of He Loves Me Not?

There are about 25 extras. Of those, there are three people who are regulars coming over from Hervey Bay. They’re playing part of the reality TV film crew, so they’ll be standing around with clipboards and that kind of thing.

As much as possible, we’ve tried to use local people for extra work, but we’ve also got one guy coming up from the Sunshine Coast. That’s a longer story because he’s also helping the crew.

Other than that, all of our extras are Fraser Coast people.

If anyone is interested in becoming part of the film, they can just go to the Fraser Coast Films website. We’ve got an Engage tab, so people can click on that and say they’d like to be an extra.

We put their names on a spreadsheet and if there’s a day where we need extras, they’ll get a phone call and a time to show up, and they can come and be part of the film.

What can audiences expect in terms of visuals or special effects?

Because it’s a romantic comedy, there aren’t a lot of special effects, but what they can expect is a beautiful love story, a bit of comedy and some very beautiful backdrops.

How has your previous work influenced your approach to this project?

I have been a writer for many years now, and I wrote the last film, 13 Summers, quite a few years ago. When I finished that film, I went off and worked as a novelist.

I’ve written three novels now, and that really influenced the way I write. I think when you write novels, your grasp of language and the way to express it on the page really skyrockets.

So, with writing this film, I could write it quickly because I felt like I had quite a bit of experience with the pen in hand. I think that’s what’s happened for me in the last couple of years.

How has the local community responded to this movie being filmed on K’gari?

We’ve really had a lot of support from Hervey Bay, from the Fraser Coast.

I think the idea there’s a film company on the Fraser Coast now is quite exciting to many people.

They’re eager to get involved and we’ve had many people sponsor us and get involved with putting product placements, using their clothing or the products they want put into the film.

It’s really heartening because we really couldn’t do it without the community. At the moment, we’re just a start-up company, so we need that help and they’ve been incredible.

Are there any initiatives to give back to the community from this production?

As much as possible. We want to include local businesses in the film.

So that was why we reached out for sponsorship and we thought if we can partner with local businesses, we can put them in the film and we can really showcase the Fraser Coast.

Also, we’ve been engaging with TAFE. We’d like to train some students with make-up, hair styling, catering, and set construction. There are a lot of skills we need as a film company.

Will He Loves Me Not be marketed in the same way as 13 Summers?

Yes, it’s made for a similar market. Because it’s a romantic comedy, it will have a different audience, but it is being made for the streaming market too.

He Loves Me Not - Kingfisher Bay Resort

Kingfisher Bay Resort is featured in Fraser Coast Film’s production He Loves Me Not. Photo: Shutterstock.

Celebrating community, collaboration, and creativity

In the realm of filmmaking, where challenges spark innovation and communities rally around creative ventures, He Loves Me Not stands as a testament to the collaborative spirit that defines the Fraser Coast Film community.

Jeremy Stanford and the Fraser Coast Films team, buoyed by their experiences and inspired by the scenic wonders of K’gari, embark on a journey that transcends the screen.

With an enthusiastic local response and an inclusive approach, this film not only captures the essence of romantic comedy, but also embodies the essence of community-driven artistry.

As the production continues to unfold, there remains an open invitation for enthusiasts to join the cinematic voyage as extras, ensuring that the very community that inspired this film remains an integral part of its narrative.

He Loves Me Not is not merely a movie; it’s a shared story, a testament to the beauty of collaboration, and a celebration of the rich tapestry of talent and passion that defines the Fraser Coast Film’s legacy.

It’s the third production for Fraser Coast Films; the second – 13 Summers – is expected to reach our screens later in 2023.

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Feature Photo: Writer and co-producer Jeremy Stanford relaxes at the Sunset Bar on K’gari, by Jocelyn Watts.

Published 14 October 2023.

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