Adelaide the true star of Aussie film The Flip Side

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By Melissa Keogh

Four lead characters sit outside North Adelaide’s The Kentish pub sipping on Coopers Sparkling Ales in Australian comedy drama The Flip Side.

The scene is a snippet of life in Adelaide, and it’s unfolding in cinemas across the country.

Co-written and directed by South Australian creative Marion Pilowsky, the charming film was shot in 35 locations across the state in just five weeks.

Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement, Hahndorf,  gets screen time, as does the famous palm tree-lined Seppeltsfield Road in the Barossa Valley.

Drama unfolds at the Brukunga Mine in the small Adelaide Hills town and waves crash on screen at a beach along Horseshoe Bay.

“It means everything to me that I was able to create this film here in SA,” says Marion, who was born in the UK before emigrating to Australia at the age of three with her family.

“It feels completely truthful, my DNA is in the work, it’s where I’ve grown up. I wouldn’t have wanted to do it anywhere else.”

Ronnie, played by SA actor Emily Taheny, at Barossa Bowland.

The Flip Side is Marion’s debut feature film, produced by her own Adelaide-based Corner Table Productions in association with the SA Film Corporation, Screen Australia and 20th Century Fox.

SA actor Emily Taheny – whose hometown is Warooka on the Yorke Peninsula – plays the lead role of Ronnie, an Adelaide chef who sparked a love affair with English actor, Henry (played by Eddie Izzard).

But Henry goes back to the UK, breaking Ronnie’s heart in the process.

Five years later Ronnie is coupled up with Jeff (Luke McKenzie), when Henry visits Australia again, but this time with French assistant girlfriend Sophie (Vanessa Guide).

Henry and Sophie stay with Ronnie and Jeff for a few days, but the time spent together leaves Ronnie wondering what could have been with the one who got away.

It took Marion about four years to write the script with co-writer and partner Lee Sellars, who Marion says brought truthfulness to the male perspective of the story.

Eddie Izzard plays Henry in film The Flip Side.

She points out The Flip Side is a comedy drama rather than a romantic comedy, and that her intention was to reflect women’s lives on screen.

“It’s a comedy drama and it’s about how women work out where they are in their lives and giving themselves permission to be happy and finding their own state of grace in the kind of complicated lives we live as modern women,” Marion says.

About 70 South Australian cast and crew were employed for the film, shot at locations including Callington, Port Adelaide, Macclesfield, Happy Valley, Croydon, Semaphore Beach, Tonsley, Adelaide Airport and Clarence Park.

“I always like location in film … I like having the environment of where the characters live front and centre and I don’t apologise for that.

“So this is an Adelaide couple who live in SA and I wanted it to be very specifically about that.”

SA’s landscapes haven’t only unfolded on the silver screen as a result of The Flip Side hitting theatres, but they’ve also been shared across social media too.

While filming in Elizabeth, Vanessa Guide, the French actor who plays Sophie, snapped an image of a garden outside a unit in the northern suburbs and shared it with her 36,000 Instagram followers.

“She posted this photo of a classic Australian native garden with beautiful flowering natives,” Marion says.

“I asked her, ‘where is that!’ and she pointed across the road.”

While The Flip Side is Marion’s first feature film, she has made six short films and built her career in the realms of film financing, film sales and consultancy.

Growing up in Adelaide, Marion moved to the UK at the age of 27, living between London and Sydney for the next 20 years of her life.

In 2012 she returned home to Adelaide with a desire to create her own work, knowing that it had to be done here at home.

“I really believe in writing what you know and being in a place that you’re really connected to,” Marion says.

“The greatest benefit of working here is that it’s so easy logistically and physically … everything is within an hour, the actual making of the film and moving large groups of people around is a lot easier than Sydney or Melbourne.”

Marion admits the film industry is a tough gig to crack and that “any film that gets made now is literally a miracle”.

But she says the energy of SA’s creative industries is promising for the local film sector.

“I think we’re in a moment of great productivity and great positivity,” she says.

“It feels like a very good time to be a filmmaker in SA.”

Read more stories about South Australia’s creative industries here.

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