From stage to screen
Director Wayne Blair (pictured below) discusses how The Sapphires film came to be.
"When I read this script I feel the energy and emotion pulsing in my veins. The Sapphires are four black twenty-something women who for one brief period of time, have an opportunity to transcend beyond the circumstances they're born into and reach their full potential not only as musical talents but more so as human beings. The Sapphires is inspired by a true story, and it possesses all the qualities of ordinary people achieving amazing things in extraordinary circumstances. Four sexy, young, talented, black, strong women, make a decision and take a chance." Director, Wayne Blair.
Warwick Thornton steps in as DOP:
Wayne visited Warwick Thornton (director of Samson and Delilah - winner of Camera do'Or at 2009 Cannes) at his home in Alice Spring one weekend while working on another project, their conversation turned quikcly to The Sapphires and by the time Wayne returned to Sydney, Warwick was onboard of The Sapphires. Warwick and Wayne are picuted below on set in Vietnam.
"We were just like two kids in a lolly shop" says Blair "the film wouldn't be what it is today without our friendship and the professionalism that Warwick brought to it. The schedule was tight, we had 14 songs we had to shoot, three relatively inexperienced leading ladies beside Deb Mailman, we had many locations - Saigon, Albury, various locations in Sydney and on its western outskirts, we had helicopters and guns - and all set in 1968, to it was period as well!"
From stage to script to screen
Wayne Blair, who is also an acclaimed actor, starred in the original production of the stage play of the same name in 2005. The stage play was written by writer/actor Tony Briggs (pictured below) and he co-wrote the screenplay with Keith Thompson. Briggs' own family's story became an immediate stage hit, playing to packed theatre audiences across Australia.
"After the early success of the play Tony Briggs began thinking about a film as he had been approached by a number of producers. He'd always thought of me as the director and Kylie Du Fresne (who produced my short film The Djarn Djarns) and Rosemary Blight came on board as producers" - Blair says.
The Audition process
Rosemary Blight (pictured to the left with Kylie Du Fresne) explains the enormous job of casting four lead actresses and the lead actor.
"It was the longest casting process I think we've ever done! It was always going to be about the four girls and obviously we had the various stage play productions and their combinations of girls to consider, but Wayne, who is brilliant at casting, wanted to be really rigorous about this process and make sure he got the right on - screen Sapphires. So we set up a website and we got messages out to all the Aboriginal communities around the country and all the acting schools asking girls to up load test scenes and songs onto this website. Then we'd scour to see who had emerged. It was very exciting."
Casting The Sapphires
With 150 actresses to audition, mixing and matching for week after week, scene after scene, before deciding on the amazing cast of Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell as The Sapphires.