Dust Off The Wings is likely to be received with the same
surprised exuberance as was last year’s Love and Other
Catastrophes. This new Australian comedy is also low budget, also
fresh and energetic, also sexually frank, also deals with young
people - and it’s set at Bondi Beach, an icon of
Australia’s hedonistic, outdoor lifestyle. Yet it is a
vastly different film, and more controversial: it has already
elicited comments from some women that it is mysogynistic.
Co-writer and director (and producer) Lee Rogers dismisses
that comment: "Those who know me realise what the film is
really about - modern relationships." Rogers was
apprehensive when his mother arrived for the cast and crew
screening, "because it’s not a pretty film and there
are some sensitive things in there out of the past - although
changed a bit…anyway, she really liked it."
been a contemporary film shot at Bondi,"
Rogers and co-writer Ward Stevens (who also co-stars) wanted
to make a film about the things that go through young men’s
minds just before their wedding, "so it’s essentially
the boys’ story," says Rogers.
The setting is familiar to the filmmakers and their cast, as
they all live or have lived in the Bondi Beach area. "There
hasn’t been a contemporary film shot at Bondi," Rogers
remarks, "and it’s a fantastic place. It’s not
just the cappuccino crowd…there’s blue collar workers,
ethnic groups, tourists, surfies . . it’s a real melting
The film concentrates on a group of friends around Lee
(himself), who is about to marry Jo (Alana Ross); the boys -
mostly keen surfies - arrange a bucks night, the girls have their
hen’s party, and we see how different they are.
Surfing shots were shot by cinematographer Guy Finlay on the
locations around Bondi Beach, and in one dream sequence where Lee
is weighed down underwater with an anvil, Rogers not only
suffered hypothermia but nearly drowned.
Other scenes, like the bucks party, were stressful for other
reasons, such as lack of time; "we shot it with two cameras
and I was in there directing it from within the scene."
"We set it in Bondi
because we know the subculture."
Rogers says he wanted to explore the bloke’s dilemma
about retaining his mates’ friendship, how he deals with the
commitment, with the notion of not sleeping around
anymore…promiscuity and drugs come into it - and also how
the bulk of society actually lives in a spiritual world. We set
it in Bondi because we know the subculture."
Ceberano plays Lee’s friend Jenna, and their own wedding
provided some of the ideas that ended up in the script of Dust
Off the Wings.
"We combined my ideas and bits of funny banter we’d
collected at the wedding where Ward shot footage on Video
8." Rogers and Ceberano married a year earlier, in April
1995; the film was shot on digital Betacam in 17 days over
several weekends in April and May 1996, with money from Rogers,
Stevens and with profit share deferrals, as well as some private
Stevens even had to sell his old Mercedes to raise the money
to complete the film.
"By making myself as
big a dickhead as every other character, the other players
were more relaxed.."
Rogers says over two thirds of the film was scripted, but many
of the scenes were written the night before shooting. "We
had very limited resources," says Rogers, "and we were
scrounging money to pay for our food every day, so it looks fun
but the whole shoot was very stressful - which I think probably
helped my performance!" Rogers has never acted before, but
he feels that "by making myself as big a dickhead as every
other character, the other players were more relaxed about doing
their own stuff, and to be more revealing."
But Rogers says he definitely won’t be starring in
another film that he directs "for a while; it’s just
too much at this stage. I need more experience in both areas, as
well as producing. I just want to direct."
Rogers has had 12 years experience in tv commercials, shorts,
corporate videos and music clips, but this is his first feature
film. He completed a screenwriting course in Los Angeles five
years ago and is planning to shoot two more features in the
"Dust" trilogy, one dealing with pregnancy (Speck of
Dust), the other with death (Dust to Dust).