Today, Broken Hill is more poised in readiness for the world of motion pictures than ever before. Securely isolated and enclosed by hundreds of kilometres of desert, its population drilled by a 130-year work ethic and a proven readiness to engage visiting film projects, Broken Hill is essentially a ready-made film lot, a workshop primed to support the most ambitious of filmmaking endeavours.
The story of Broken Hill’s modern moviemaking career begins with 1971’s Wake In Fright, a film described by legendary Australian film critic, Bill Collins, as “one of the best films ever made in this country”. The success of Wake In Fright kicked open the door to a whole new industry, with hundreds of feature films, TV series, documentaries, commercials and music video clips being shot in Broken Hill and the surrounding region in the three decades that followed.
In 1981, Broken Hill was the chosen location for Mad Max 2, at the time the most successful box office film ever to come out of Australia. Director George Miller used the city of Broken Hill like a film factory, seconding assistance from the mines, local car enthusiasts, artists and even the local dog pound to create his postapocalyptic world of the future.
“It was wonderful shooting in the desert,” he recalled years later in an interview with Australian Screen. “We were one of the first films into Broken Hill, which was a mining town so it had a lot of infrastructure…all that technology they used in the mines, for welding and so on, and all the artisans…since then, it’s become quite a location for filmmakers, because you’ve got the access to the desert with a fairly decent-sized urban centre nearby. The success of Wake In Fright kicked open the door to a whole new industry, with hundreds of feature films, TV series, documentaries, commercials and music video clips. "
My recent trip to Broken Hill was pretty much many years in the making as it has been a place on my radar to use as a location.
Always brought up by people when talking about great outback film locations, what I found was a goldmine of various amazing places to shoot and too many for only one job, the variety of both landscape/buildings/and areas that look from a bygone era everywhere, not to mention the incredible light the place has (at the end of winter/beginning of winter months).
My recent shoots for HARPERS BAZAAR Australia merely scraped the surface of an area I now know has so much to offer and a place I hope to visit again soon for just this."
-- Simon Upton - Photographer, "HARPERS BAZAAR Australia" (2013)