Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Faraway Downs’ to settle in NSW

Nicole Kidman, Baz Luhrmann and Hugh Jackman on the set of 'Australia'. (Image: Screen Australia).

The next chapter of Baz Luhrmann’s 2008 blockbuster Australia will take shape in NSW, with confirmation a new series cut from the original film is set to make use of post-production and visual effects houses within the state.

Luhrmann revealed in an interview with Nine’s Good Weekend magazine last month that he had re-edited the original version, which stars starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, into a six-part project titled Faraway Downs that would stream on Disney+ last year.

The NSW Government today announced the extended director’s cut would be supported via the state’s Post, Digital, and Visual Effects Rebate, with the expectation of delivering $3.8 million in economic benefits to the state economy and up to 40 jobs for the local screen industry, as well as providing seven traineeships, and work for several NSW post-production and VFX houses.

According to the state government, Big Bang Sound, FIN, The Post Lounge, Trackdown, Access Media, Moneypenny, and independent NSW flame artists, had already been engaged to work on the episodes.

“The NSW Government is proud to support Baz Luhrmann’s Faraway Downs, which we know is making the most of the state’s highly-skilled post production and VFX talent, putting their skills on display to the world,” NSW Arts Minister Ben Franklin said.

“As Australia’s leading state for screen production, NSW is home to 60 per cent of the nation’s screen industry – directly employing more than 9,600 people and generating an annual income of more than $1.6 billion.

“Incentives like the Post, Digital and Visual Effects Rebate are important to ensuring our state retains its strong competitive advantage and we are proud to continue to attract productions like Faraway Downs.”

Set in northern Australia before WWII, Australia tells the story of an Englishwoman Lady Sarah Ashley (Kidman), who travels from Britain to Australia to inspect a cattle ranch she inherited. Reluctantly joining forces with a rugged local known as The Drover (Jackman), she sets out on a cattle drive across hundreds of miles of harsh terrain to save her ranch.

The film, which was written by Luhrmann along with Stuart Beattie and Ronald Harwood, is the second-highest-grossing Australian title globally behind Crocodile Dundee, taking in more than US$210 million at the international box office.