/News 02.04.24


Melbourne, Australia is not just one of the most livable cities in the world, it Is also a sought-after destination for filmmaking. The city’s versatile architectural styles, landscapes and urban environments make Melbourne the perfect city to double for just about anywhere in the world.

Currently streaming on Prime, Peter Farrelly’s new comedy, Ricky Stanicky, is the latest international feature to capitalize on Melbourne’s versatility, with the city doubling for New England and Atlantic City.

The Academy Award-winning director Farrelly said, “Melbourne worked on many levels, but mainly because there’s so much architecture here that you could find whatever you’re looking for. [Ricky Stanicky] is [set] in Providence, Rhode Island, and nobody in Rhode Island is going to think for a second it wasn’t shot there. We found houses that look exactly like Rhode Island. We found buildings that look like office buildings in Rhode Island. We found restaurants, everything. I think if you wanted to do Game of Thrones here, you could do it.”

Cast and crew of Ricky Stanicky on location in Melbourne. Photo by Ben King
Dean (Zac Efron) and JT (Andrew Santino). Photo by Ben King

Producer John Jacobs was especially impressed by the adaptability of Melbourne’s streetscapes. “We shot on streets that literally could have been New York, Nebraska, or Vancouver, for that matter.”

Ricky Stanicky crew shooting in Melbourne. Photo by Ben King

“We didn’t use one set on this entire movie, which has never happened on any film I’ve ever worked on. When you see Ricky Stanicky, you’re going to think we shot it in Rhode Island. No question about it.”

Susan (Anya Savcic), JT (Andrew Santino), Dean (Zac Efron) and Erin (Lex Scott Davis). Photo by Ben King

Melbourne native, producer Paul Currie, reaffirmed the city’s ability to double for anywhere. “We filmed all around, starting at the casino, which was a big set piece. Nailing that down as a practical location was huge in terms of production value.”

Dean (Zac Efron) and Rod (John Cena) filming at Crown Casino. Photo by Ben King
Dean (Zac Efron), JT (Andrew Santino) and Wes (Jermaine Fowler) and Rod (John Cena). Photo by Ben King

Supervising location manager, Drew Rhodes explained that “Crown Casino, as it happens, also own a private golf course with a country club that perfectly resembled the New England golf clubs Farrelly grew up around on Rhode Island.”

Ricky Stanicky crew at Capital Golf Club Melbourne. Photo by John Brawley
Erin (Lex Scott Davis). Photo by Ben King

Drew supervised a department of location scouts responsible for finding the locations that captured the unique look and feel of Providence, without requiring extensive VFX enhancements. “We found the Royston hotel in Richmond; a red brick pub between two buildings that opens out onto a semi-industrial street, that was very much something that you see on the East Coast. We locked into those little elements and stitched them together – a Hamptons House, a bit of dive bar, a semi-industrial neighbourhood – and the whole idea is that the audience doesn’t think about it.”

Wes (Jermaine Fowler), Dean (Zac Efron) and JT (Andrew Santino). Photo by Ben King

“We only shot one day at a studio, and that was a visual effects shot replicating the concert in Atlantic City,” executive producer Marc Fischer reveals. “Virtually everything else was shot on location in Melbourne. We even found a really beautiful Cape Cod-style house. It looked very East Coast.”

Wes (Jermaine Fowler) and JT (Andrew Santino) filming at Capital Golf Club Melbourne. Photo by Ben King
Cast and crew of Ricky Stanicky on location in Melbourne. Photo by Ben King

The attraction of Melbourne is not only its varied locations, Fischer continues. “Pete and I have been working together for 27 years, and this was by far the best crew we’ve ever assembled. We shot Ricky Stanicky in record time because they were so skilled. Honestly, it was a dream production to work on.” Supported by VicScreen’s Victorian Screen Incentive, Fischer and Farrelly have vouched to return to Melbourne to film again.

Melbourne and Victoria’s versatility as a production destination has a strong track record of doubling for cities all over the world. In Shantaram, Melbourne doubled for early-80s Bombay, India. In Russell Crowe’s Sleeping Dogs, Melbourne resembled Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Clickbait saw Melbourne double for Oakland, California. And Hunters, starring Al Pacino, saw Melbourne double for Turkey, Russia, Chicago, Maryland, Minnesota, Baltimore, and Afghanistan.

“Melbourne is a layered place. It’s not all on immediate show in the same way Sydney is,” Location Manager Rhodes explains. “Melbourne has a little bit more to discover; there are layers to peel back…and more than locations, the city’s biggest attraction is its people. Yes, there are buildings that look like Boston, but there’s actually more than that. It’s the people that make it possible, and that’s why [producers] come back here.”

With versatile locations that can double for anywhere, state-of-the-art sound stages, talented crew, leading-edge post-production and visual effects studios, and competitive government incentives, Melbourne is truly an exceptional screen production location.

To make your next project in Melbourne, get in touch with Joe Brinkmann, VicScreen’s Head of Incentives, at [email protected]