Trevor Jamieson and Myles Pollard in 'Frank & Frank'.
The ability of communities to come together for a common cause has long been a defining characteristic of regional Australia.
It is this sort of grassroots collaboration that’s at the heart of Western Australian author Adam Morris’ second feature, Frank and Frank (or The Valley and the Walrus: Ruminations on the Mystery from Soup to Nuts).
Filming wraps this week on the micro-budget project, which was shot across three weeks in Albany, with Mandurah and Bicton also used as locations.
Morris’ follow-up to last year’s Edward and Isabella stars Myles Pollard as faith and finance guru Frank, who heads to the country to present at a conference and arrives to a message from his wife, who was supposed to meet him there with their daughter, saying she’s thinking of leaving him.
As he attempts to prepare for his presentation while simultaneously processing the potential loss of his family, he meets Frank (Trevor Jamieson), a rough-round-the-edges artist, philosopher, bon vivant, and womaniser, who lives in a ramshackle caravan at the rear of the property. As Frank the guru’s life starts to unravel, he forms a playful, thoughtful, and at times hilarious relationship with his namesake, leading him to discover a different way to think, live and enjoy life.
Pollard and Jamieson are joined in the cast by Rebecca Leafes, Vanessa Stone, and Talarah Pedrocchi Roelofs, who also served as editor.
Morris told IF the concept for the film, which was inspired by the likes of Whitnail and I and Midnight Run, had been “bubbling away for a couple of years” but only really came to fruition with the assistance of the Albany community.
“We followed the Francis Ford Coppola school of filmmaking on Frank and Frank, which is to say we started the whole process without any money to pay for it and were confident enough that the money would turn up, and by a series of small miracles it actually did,” he said.
“Once Myles and Trevor were attached, I approached the local Albany community, as well as an art gallery in Mt Barker and Hainault winery in the Perth hills, and we raised just over $60,000 in just under three weeks.
“The film is basically funded like a rural co-op where the community comes together to produce something much bigger than the sum of its parts.”
Contributors included The Hilton Garden Inn Albany, which provided accommodation for the actors, local bookstore Paperbark, hospitality venue Six Degrees Albany, two restaurants, a brewery, an indie radio station, and the editor from the local arts and culture magazine.
On set, the team included cinematographer Lauchlan Gillett, sound designer Kim Lofts, artist George Corke, prop master Andy Dolphin, and production assistant Finn Morris.
Morris executive produced with Halo Films managing director Ian Hale, with whom he credited for helping bring Jamieson and Pollard on board.
“Ian worked with Trevor Jamieson and David Wenham on The Furnaceand with Myles Pollard on Before Dawn, so after he read the script, he thought they’d be perfect for the two Franks and he was spot on,” he said.
“They instantly understood our Taoist approach to filmmaking and threw themselves completely and beautifully into their roles.”
For Jamieson, the film represented the opportunity to be part of something that went beyond what was captured on camera.
“The production had its own organic heartbeat,” he said.
“It was an honour to be present and make a contribution to this wondrous piece of work. Like a magnet, it drew the community in, strangers became acquaintances. It’s ideas and projects like this that bring communities together.”
The experience also left a lasting impression on Pollard, who described it as “one of the most enjoyable gigs” of his career so far.
“I was sent the screenplay for Frank and Frank and was inspired by Adam’s intelligent writing style — he’s a poet, philosopher, psychologist, and comedian all in one,” he said.
“I just loved the story’s heart and connected with Adams’ exploration of two middle-aged men trying hard to live the best versions of themselves in a world that continues to throw emotional hand grenades.”
Frank and Frank (or The Valley and the Walrus: Ruminations on the Mystery from Soup to Nuts) will be distributed through Halo Films, with Hale aiming for an early 2023 release.