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Regional Australia’s time to shine

Spin Out is shining a spotlight on regional Australia – and it’s not the only one.

Morgan Griffin and Xavier Samuel star in Spin Out/Sarah Enticknap

Isolated Outback towns and major metropolitan areas are often seen on screens, but in Spin Out the focus is squarely on regional cities, with a feature comedy set around a bachelor & spinsters ball.

It marks the directorial debut for Tim Ferguson of the Doug Anthony All Stars, who co-directed with comedy veteran and producer Marc Gracie.

“Marc and I have worked together since he was a promoter for that dancing comedy trio I was with, and we made TV of all kinds and he helped me put a live show together,” Ferguson said.

With Ferguson confined to a wheelchair due to his multiple sclerosis, the pair got around on-set in Shepparton, Victoria, in a custom built golf buggy that doubled as video village.

“So we had TV screens set up and they would be plugged into the cameras… from there Marc and I were everywhere,” he says.

Ferguson, who grew up in country NSW, co-wrote Spin Out with Edwina Exton, which stars Xavier Samuel and Morgan Griffin as childhood friends who find their relationship at a crossroads at the B&S Ball.

“To a certain extent if you’re in the city, regional people are invisible, just cause they’re a long way away and we don’t see them a lot on our screens,” Ferguson says. “So Spin Out is showing a very well-known or very well-heard-of event with the bachelor and spinster balls.”

Although for actor Lincoln Lewis, who plays a city slicker looking for a good time in Spin Out, he had no idea what a B&S Ball was until the script came along.

“There’s a lot of people who wouldn’t know either, so it’s going to bring that idea out to them,” he says.

The drama and laughs also take place against the backdrop of a ute convention, which the Shepparton locals were only too happy to get involved in during the four-week shoot in August/September last year.

“About 95 per cent of the extras were Shepparton locals. A lot of them donated their utes, even though there were about three ute musters going on at the time,” Lewis says.

Actor Travis Jeffery who hails from Yarra Valley in Victoria says getting involved “meant to world” to the locals and emphasised how important it is to tell the stories of regional Australia.

“People spend the whole year waiting to go to Deni(liquin) to the ute muster. It’s nice to be able to show that and how much heart they have out there,” he says.

It’s something he immediately gravitated toward when he first picked up the screenplay.

“I grew up in the country so it was really nice to see everything I did as a kid on the page,” he says. “And (a story) we haven’t looked at before. There’s nothing like this in Australia.”

Sony Pictures Australia can see its potential too, releasing Spin Out wide on 184 screens across the country.

Rodger Corser stars in Doctor Doctor/Alina Gozina

It also comes at the same time new Australian series Doctor Doctor on Nine Network and Channel Seven’s upcoming The Secret Daughter are hitting TV, with both partly based in regional towns.

Doctor Doctor writer/producer Tony McNamara, who also originally comes from the country, says this idea of showing country Australia as it is now was something that really intrigued him.

“I thought ‘there’s a more up-to-date version of contemporary country Australia that’s a bit more surprising maybe and a bit less pastoral, bucolic and cute’ – even though the show’s probably all those things,” he says.

“But it’s still modern. Social media’s changed it all, and everyone’s connected in a way they weren’t. But regional Australia is still different from urban Australia and it’s showing that as well.”

Spin Out is in cinemas now, released through Sony Pictures Australia.

Doctor Doctor is airing Wednesday’s at 8.40pm.