Dangerous: articles

Dabbling Brooke

THE last few months of 2006 were a strange and busy time for actor Brooke Satchwell, who spent her days singing nursery rhymes and her nights swinging a sledgehammer in Dangerous, an edgy drama that delves into the murky world of ram-raiding.

Satchwell landed the role as Donna McCarthy in the new Foxtel series only three days before filming started and juggled the work with her long-running commitment to Play School.

"It was pretty intense," she laughs. "It's nice to feel wanted, but there were a few nights when we'd be in Bankstown (Sydney) at three o'clock in the morning smashing parking meters and the next day I'd be up at 5am singing Incy Wincy Spider!"

Dangerous, the brainchild of award-winning producer John Edwards, centres on the car-jacking and ram-raiding gangs of Sydney's western suburbs.

Edwards, whose credits include Love My Way, Marking Time and Police Rescue, developed the drama after listening to police reports on early-morning radio.

He reckons the police always sound excited when talking about the high-risk crime, which involves smashing a stolen car through a window and hauling out an ATM.

He says the crime, with its fast pace and inherent danger, lends itself to the edgy, action-packed style favoured by young viewers.

Foxtel agrees and has commissioned eight hours for its youth-skewed channel, Fox8.

Edwards and co-producer Imogen Banks, drawing heavily on real crimes fleshed out by western suburbs sources, police files and court reports, developed the series, with a writing team headed by Fiona Seres. It was directed by David Caesar and Shawn Seet.

Satchwell plays Donna McCarthy, an "ambitious young madam" from Sydney's affluent eastern suburbs who works as an adviser to the Police Minister.

To create a media diversion in the lead-up to an election, McCarthy begins researching the ram-raiding gangs, stepping outside of her sheltered society and immersing herself in their culture.

She finds more than she bargains for: a fast, aggressive, sexy world populated by wild youth, a foreign world of balaclavas, car-jacking, rebirthing, chroming and lowered cars with expensive rims and glossy paintwork.

And she finds Dean, played by charismatic newcomer Khan Chittenden, the damaged but ambitious leader of a ram-raiding gang, whose motto is "go hard or go home".

Satchwell, who cut her teeth on Neighbours before moving through Australian dramas including Water Rats, White Collar Blue and the recent Channel 10 series Tripping Over, was desperate to land the role.

"I wanted this job so badly when I read it. It was outside anything I have ever experienced," Satchwell says. "It's not a boyfriend-girlfriend story. It's so much more than that.

"Donna is a fabulously strong character, but the series is also great entertainment. It's a fast-cars-and-sex fun series."

Also in Dean's gang are hardcore chick and "wheelman" EC, played by Nicole da Silva, Joe played by Paul Pantano, and Riz, played by Vico Thai, who grew up around Bankstown where Dangerous was filmed.

Rounding out the cast are Joel Edgerton, as head of the gang squad, Det. Mark Field, and Robert Mammone, as violent underworld boss Craig Lukevic.

Donna McCarthy, in one of the grainy, black-and-white pieces to camera scattered through the drama, says that entering the realm of the ram-raiders is like going into a rabbit hole and finding a whole new world.

"Coming from my life into their life, there was always some sort of drama going on and I loved that. I know that sounds bad but it was completely intoxicating."

Edwards says that despite the heavy reliance on action and stunts, an episode of Dangerous costs less to make than an episode of All Saints.

The series was filmed over eight weeks. A small, guerilla-style crew used four cameras to capture the action, documentary-style, compared with the two cameras usually used in drama.

They filmed quickly to maintain high-energy. Each episode is littered with jump cuts and jerky movement and underscored with hip hop.

Director David Caesar says: "We try to get a sense that you are part of the action.

"Dangerous is an action-packed love story set in the world of ram-raiding, drugs, fast cars and youth gone wild.

"We're not trying to make everyone happy It's not like normal Australian television. It's about colour and movement, risk and excitement and real human drama."

With plenty of interest from overseas buyers, Edwards believes international sales are pending.

"It has created a lot of interest because not much youthful, action-based television is being made in the world," he says.

"There's sexiness and danger. It's truthful, but it's also surprising. It is a great action drama with a big love story in the middle of it."

Dangerous is on Fox8 on Tuesdays from January 16, 8.30pm.

By Kylie Miller
January 10, 2007