Sports on film often look really, really fake. The talents behind 'Sunshine' tell us how it’s done.
Shane Cubis

11 Oct 2017 - 12:36 PM  UPDATED 11 Oct 2017 - 12:36 PM

Sunshine revolves around a group of South Sudanese-Australian boys who yearn for basketballing glory. Which means, of course, that the show has to feature some footage of them sweating up a storm on the court. But as we found out, that’s not quite as easy as asking them to play some half-court, pointing a camera and calling it a day. It’s actually quite hard...

Daina Reid, director: I worked with Joe Hook, who was our basketball consultant. He’s an ex-basketballer and I'm ex-dancer, so choreography is my... I love working that way. We really worked very well as a team as far as turning the scripted events within the game into a piece of basketball choreography. Because basketball is so fast, the DOP [director of photography] and the camera team needed to know what was going to happen so they could follow it and we could tell the basketball story – what's happening on the field.

Wally Elnour, who plays Jacob Garang: It's totally different [from playing actual basketball]. Way different. Because we did the same moves over and over again for each scene. It's exhausting, man.

Anthony LaPaglia, who plays Eddie Grattan: It is. It’s long and tough. Those boys are fit. I enjoy just being the coach. Their basketball stuff is pretty good, but shooting it is hard. It’s choreographed and there are certain moments that have got to happen. A lot of the players, they’re good pressure players. They nail it when they have to.

Daina Reid: So yes, we would choreograph those routines and then we would shoot them over and over like a dance, really. And then from time to time, because again our players are not actors, we would just shoot. They would just play and we would shoot that as well to kind of cut into it. You can feel it when they've lost their desperation so that’s when we would do that, to get their sweat up and their desperation up.

Wally Elnour: We had a coach who would help us rehearse our moves and stuff. So we practised the moves before we actually came on the court. Once we stood there, we had to do it a couple of times for different angles. That was the most exhausting part. It had to be the same every time.

Daina Reid: You say, 'Go, run away, run around.’ It is that thing of giving them the tools and keeping them in it because they've got to pretend to be puffing. It's actually just better to go, ‘Go, run around. OK, roll,’ because then they are puffing. Do everything for real when you’re working with new actors.


Sunshine will air over two big weeks, premiering Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 October at 8.30pm on SBS. You can watch an encore screening on SBS VICELAND at 9.30pm or stream it online on SBS On Demand.

More On The Guide
Sounds like Sunshine
Exploring the South Sudanese hip-hop scene, as seen in the upcoming Australian drama series 'Sunshine'.
Your guide to the cast and crew of Sunshine
Sunshine debuts on Wednesday 18 October at 8:30pm on SBS.
On the set of 'Sunshine'
When SBS brought TV to the west of Melbourne.
The man who helped 'Sunshine' keep it real
How Ez Eldin Deng made sure the series reflected the real suburb.