Briagolong filmaker is seeking senior extras

Geoffrey Benton, with part of the old Maffra to Briagolong train line behind him, is working on a movie about the fascinating history of the line.
Geoffrey Benton, with part of the old Maffra to Briagolong train line behind him, is working on a movie about the fascinating history of the line.

A BRIAGOLONG filmmaker and his crew are putting out a casting call for extras to be part of a documentary about the former railway line between Maffra and Briagolong.

Anyone with an interest in history or filmmaking, or just willing to be part of a grass roots community project, is invited to apply.

Geoffrey Benton, retired policeman, truck driver and businesses owner turned writer, filmmaker and lover of all things creative, is producing the film with the help of a 16 like-minded locals and the Briagolong Community House.

The initiative comes off the back of the success of the film Through Gillio's Gate, which explores the building of the Briagolong RSL Log Cabin in the late 1940s through a series of humorous and poignant anecdotes and interviews.

It was shown at last year's Briagolong Film Festival.

Mr Benton felt inspired to do it all again, this time to tell the story of the former railway service through a series of interviews, historic images and new footage.

He said he wanted to make a film about the former passenger service, which ran between 1889 and 1952, because it was a fascinating piece of the region's past that was largely unknown, but still held sentimental memories for many older locals.

As a retiree himself, he also wanted to initiate a community project that invited "seniors" to participate.

"There are a lot of creative people in the Briagolong area, young and old, and we're pretty proud of that," he said.

Mr Benton said he needed about 20 "senior" extras, who would be filmed walking a seven kilometre section of the railway line, beginning at Foster's Hill, between Maffra and Boisdale.

While the train tracks have long gone, a distinct treeless track through farmland and the back blocks of Maffra to Boisdale, Bushy Park and Briagolong reveals the weathered route the train took.

"A group of us have already walked the railway route, and I was fascinated by the evidence of the old train line," he said.

Although there's not much left, the group did find some pins and mounds that clearly mark the train track's path.

Mr Benton said walking the old track inspired him to investigate the former railway line further, and he set about seeking out people who had a connection to the line.

"We spoke to one older gentleman in his 90s who has since passed away, and he told us that as a small child at Boisdale Primary School he and his friends would run to the fence whenever the train went past and wave to the driver.

"One time the driver stopped and offered to take them for a ride, so they got a trip to Bushy Park and back, which was such a thrill," he said.

During his research he also discovered that the Briagolong station had a turnover that allowed the train to turn around, the same as the historic turnover once used at the former Bombala train station, which now operates as a tourist site.

"We actually spent a day in Bombala and filmed that station because of its historical significance and connection to Briagolong," he said.

Mr Benton said the film crew had already interviewed and selected three presenters for the documentary, but were still hoping to find the "senior" extras.

Filming, which will include the use of drones, is expected to be completed over one or two days, on February 29 and March 1.

Extras will be provided morning tea and lunch, and there will be a bus to move people around the film sites.

People interested in applying to be an extra should phone Geoffrey Benton on 0400 960 081 or register at doonie@gmail.com.

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