Adam Demos and Victoria Justice in 'A Perfect Pairing'. (Image: Vince Valitutti/Netflix)

As a kid growing up in Queensland, Stuart McDonald used to walk along the cliffs of the Numinbah Valley in the Gold Coast hinterland and hope to be able to capture the scenery as a director when he was older.

That wish became a reality when he filmed Netflix rom-com A Perfect Pairing in the area last year.

The director said the memories from his childhood were not lost on him as he returned to the location for the film.

“It was so strange as an adult, literally being at the foot of those hills looking back up and getting the chance to actually direct a film there.”

Written by Elizabeth Hackett and Hilary Galanoy, A Perfect Pairing stars Victoria Justice as Lola, an LA wine-company executive who travels to an Australian sheep station in an attempt to land a major client (Samantha Tolj).

While working as a ranch hand, she forms a connection with a rugged local Max (Adam Demos). As they open up to one another, Lola discovers that Australia has introduced her to much more than just a love for entrepreneurship. The cast also includes Nicholas Brown, Natalie Abbott, Lucy Durack, Luca Sardelis and Emily Havea.

The film was produced by Hoodlum Entertainment’s Deborah Glover and Tracey Vieira, alongside Robyn Snyder and Deborah Evans.

Hackett and Galanoy also executive produced with Hoodlum’s Tracey Robertson Nathan Mayfield, and Fernando Szew.

Shot across five and a half weeks in winter, much of the production took place outdoors, with McDonald admitting they were “really fortunate” with the weather, while also paying tribute to cinematographer Ben Nott and production designer Helen O’Loan for their work.

A Perfect Pairing. (L to R) Natalie Abbott, Luca Sardelis as Breeze, Emily Havea, Jayden Popik, Victoria Justice, Adam Demos, and Alex Neal. Image: Netflix © 2022.

“The cinematographer Ben Nott has such a beautiful eye and is so energetically engaged in the filmmaking process and Helen O’Loan, our production designer, was stunningly good,” he said.

“They made the film so beautiful and created things that didn’t exist.”

McDonald also singled out first assistant director Damien Grant for praise for helping to figure out “every location where the sun was at every single time in the day”, so they were always shooting “in the perfect light”.

“There’s a lot of math in that Rubik’s Cube of figuring out the right direction at right time of day,” he said.

“It was a lot of work, but it really paid off.”

A Perfect Pairing is McDonald’s first feature film since 2015’s family adventure Oddball, having since helmed episodes of series such as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, American Housewife, and Wrecked.

Having spent a decent chunk of time working abroad, he said he was pleased to highlight a part of his home country that international audiences may not be aware of.

“In some ways, there is that image of Australia as the dry outback, which is of course still part of the country, but it isn’t only that,” he said.

“I was really pleased that I could make Oddball in Warrnambool because it has such a specific look to it.

“When we made A Perfect Pairing in Numinbah Valley, I was really happy because [the location] was also very specific, in the way there are these huge rocky cliffs topped with rainforests that roll down these big hills.

“It’s great when Australian filmmakers get to celebrate parts of the country that are quite unique.”

The director is set to continue his relationship with Netflix for his next project, Choose Love, which is currently shooting in Auckland.

Also a rom-com, the interactive feature follows Cami, a young woman who seemingly has it all but still feels something is missing, a feeling that begins to grow when she meets Rex and an old love returns to her life.

McDonald commended the streamer for its faith in the rom-coms, noting some studios did not pursue films within the genre as vigorously as they once did.

“I think there will always be an audience for that genre because how we feel about each other and how we negotiate our love lives isnt something that is going to go away,” he said.

A Perfect Pairing is available to stream on Netflix.

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  1. I just watched “A Perfect Match. Loved the story. Loved that it showed another part of Australia, green and we have water falls. The acting was very natural. Great job by everyone.

  2. Loved “A Perfect Pairing” but really have a crush on the Vaughn main house on the winery property. May I see some interior and exterior pictures of the home?

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