Interview: Miranda Tapsell and Bohemian Rhapsody’s Gwilym Lee.

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The stars of Australian and world cinema descended on our fair city this weekend for the Adelaide Film Festival Pop-up.

One of the most hotly anticipated premieres of this mini-festival is Top End Wedding. Starring the vivacious Miranda Tapsell, the film also features UK actor Gwilym Lee, last seen as Brian May in Bohemian Rhapsody.

The two stars sat down with Glam to chat about the film.

Already a triple-threat, Tapsell has taken the plunge into quadruple-threat with this, her first writing project.

Teaching drama with Josh Tyler, her co-writer, the two got chatting about the Territory, which is Tapsell’s home and which Tyler had visited and loved.

“We noticed that a lot of the films we would reference working with the drama students, were rom-coms, and so Josh just said, ‘Why don’t we just set one up in the Territory?’.”

A story about love between people, Top End Wedding is also a story about love of Country, and particularly the Northern Territory’s often harsh, dramatic beauty, about which Tapsell is so passionate.

“I feel like I did put my heart on the page. The Territory means an incredible amount to me. I have a lot of family up there and I grew up in lots of parts of the Territory, so to be able to show off many of those areas is really, really special. “

So how does an urbane Welsh-English actor from London end up bush-bashing in the NT? Lee’s enthusiasm for the project is unequivocal.

“I read the script and the characters jumped off the page. It’s fun and plays around with the rom-com genre. The second half of the film becomes a road trip: a voyage of discovering one’s roots and one’s heritage, and I can really connect with that. Then I Googled the locations, saw Kakadu and just thought ‘Ok…get me there NOW please!’. Not long after reading the script I had the opportunity to meet Miranda and do a little chemistry read together.  I realised that this was a passion-project:  I saw her energy and enthusiasm, and I wanted to be a part of telling this story.”

Along with Kakadu, Darwin and Adelaide, important scenes are set in the Tiwi Islands. This too, was a choice that came from Tapsell’s heart.

“Mum would often take me over to the Tiwi Islands when I was on term break from drama school, because I needed a place to ground myself. My family over there have completely embraced me even though I hadn’t grown up there.  I was really cautious to make sure I wrote this honestly in terms of how much I knew about Tiwi. Our production manager made sure that the community were 100% across what we were doing: we were there to celebrate them, their stories, their songs and their love of family. I can’t imagine it being anywhere else. It was the perfect place to stage a wedding.

Also, the church we shot it in, had survived WW II bombings and Cyclone Tracy. So, if you want your relationship to last forever, then your wedding does really need to be in that structure!”

This is Lee’s first Australian film-making venture, and was a baptism of fire, shooting in extreme heat, in isolated locations: an adventure he clearly embraced. 

“There was a real sense of camaraderie amongst the crew: everyone chipping in together filming in some quite inhospitable places, coupled with an amazing ability to set up a coffee machine in the middle of nowhere: that will be set up before anything else! And it’s proper coffee too, not the crappy instant stuff you get in the UK.

That’s the biggest difference between the British and the Australian film industry I think: the quality of the coffee!”

Top End Wedding is officially released in Australian on May 2nd.

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