THE big screen is calling for not just Leeton actor Jake Speer, but the town he calls home.
Mr Speer’s latest project is a short film titled Inside Water, which he has written the script for and will be filming in Leeton later this year.
It was at the end of 2014 when Leeton’s most famous actor started writing the script for Inside Water and he spent time back in his home town in December scouting locations with director D'Arby Deck.
“It's about a young farmer who has inherited a failing sheep farm in the wake of his father's suicide and must protect his family and his scarce water supply from a rising threat,” the former Home and Away star said.
“It's a film set against the back drop of the harsh Australian landscape during a time of global economic and social collapse.
“The film was inspired by grand themes, but explores those themes on a very intimate and personal level. It's about grief and family and how one chooses to act when faced with great change.”
Starring alongside him will be familiar names in the Australian acting industry, including Myles Pollard who is most known for his roles in Home and Away and McLeod’s Daughters, as well as Maggie Dence, an Australian stage, film and television actress.
“I am very excited to be working with such a talented cast,” Mr Speer said. “It isn't often you're able to cast the people you had envisioned in the role from the very beginning. For me, I guess I got lucky. I met Myles when I was working on Home and Away and have always been an admirer of his ease and physicality on screen as well as his passion for home grown Australian work. I reached out to him and he was very keen to be a part of the project.
As for Maggie Dence, we crossed paths very briefly during my time at NIDA. She is one of Australia's most prolific actresses of the stage and screen.
“Having worked on every well known Australian TV series over the past 50 years, as well as one of Australia's greatest cinematic achievements Wake In Fright, a film that inspired Inside Water. I sent the script to Maggie's agent and thankfully she responded with a very enthusiastic ‘yes’. To be working along side these two great talents will be an absolute privilege and joy for me as an actor and will no doubt lift the calibre of the film we are making.”
The film is currently the focus of a crowd funding campaign and Leeton shire residents can help out by donating even the smallest of amounts to ensure its completion.
“We aim to begin filming in late April this year and use Leeton as our home base for the cast and crew during our week long production,” Mr Speer said.
“This will involve transporting a cast and crew of 20 talented professionals, along with all of the required film and sound equipment, props and costumes, that are being purchased, designed and constructed in Sydney to Leeton for filming.
“As you can imagine, even on this scale it is no small feat, especially financially.
“This is why we have started a crowd funding campaign through gofundme.com where we are encouraging people to donate to the film so we are able to raise our budget of $15,000 to make the film. The money raised will go towards getting all of our cast and crew to Leeton, as well as going towards the hiring of film and sound equipment, purchasing props and creating costumes.
“We also aim to use the funds to finance our post production budget to cover the costs of editing and colouring the film, sound mixing and recording our original score. A lot goes into making a film, which is why we are reaching out to the public to get behind Inside Water and be a part of the journey with us.”
It’s been some time since residents have had Mr Speer on their screens each night in Home and Away, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been busy.
At the end of 2017 he joined the cast of Kinky Boots Australia to see out the season in Brisbane as a member of the ensemble and the understudy for the lead role of Charlie Price, a role that he performed in 14 times over the course of the Brisbane season.
Currently Mr Speer is in Melbourne rehearsing for a play at the new Alex Theatre in St Kilda called Hand To God, which he described as “an outrageously filthy American comedy with puppets”. It opens on February 22.
If you would like to help Mr Speer bring this film to Leeton you can donate any amount – big or small by visiting Go Fund Me and searching for Inside Water.