Warrnambool City Council confident of film investment return

A MOVIE production focusing on the odd story of how Maremma dogs saved Warrnambool’s penguin colony will be given a $10,000 injection from ratepayer funds as an investment in potential international spin-offs.

Six councillors unanimously voted on Monday night to make the contribution towards production of Oddball which is scheduled to be filmed near Middle Island and other Warrnambool locations for three weeks in May.

The allocation is in addition to assistance from council staff in advice and promotion plus cabin beds worth up to $25,000 at the municipal Surfside Holiday Park.

Eighteen accommodation business operators have also chipped in by offering 30 rooms for the actors and film crew for three weeks valued at $79,406 while Warrnambool Tourism Association has promised $5000.

Popular Aussie actor Shane Jacobson will play the role of eccentric former Dennington chook farmer Allan “Swampy” Marsh whose dogs were first used in the world-first trial.

Jacobson’s brother Clayton will direct the movie which is expected to be released next year and appeal to international audiences with distribution rights secured in Europe and the USA.

City growth director Bill Millard told councillors more than 60 crew members would be in Warrnambool for three weeks and producers were visiting this week to discuss details with council staff.

“We will be working to make sure the time spent by the crew in Warrnambool is maximised,” he said.

“It would be a solid return for Warrnambool in having that amount of people stay here. 

“A key aspect of the benefit will be the exposure of Warrnambool. The town in the movie is not a mythical town — it is a Warrnambool story.”

He said cross-promotion had already started with a competition on the TV travel show Coxy’s Big Break offering prizes including a non-speaking role in the movie. 

A locally co-ordinated database called Oddball The Movie Club also offers prospects of playing minor roles as extras.

Cr Jacinta Ermacora noted that the council’s tourism services manager Peter Abbott had contacted Dampier local government officials to ascertain their spin-offs from production of another popular Australian movie, Red Dog.

“If Oddball is in the same market there will be enormous benefits for us,” Cr Ermacora said.

“I’m confident much more in-kind support will follow.”

Cr Peter Hulin said one angry resident contacted him after learning of the $10,000 contribution suggestion, but became a supporter when the business benefits were explained.

“We should get massive coverage from this — it will show exactly how beautiful our coastline is,” he said.

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