Ferny Hills filmmaker Josie Montano drew on personal experience to create her award-winning short film The Great Salami Breakout.
The film has picked up a swag of international awards, including best concept and best cinematography at India’s Paradise Film Festival, best comedy short at the Accord Cine Fest and the New Jersey Film Awards and best comedy short film at the Onkyo Films Awards.
It also won best comedy, best trailer and best poster at the Rome International Movie Awards.
With an ensemble cast of four, including Montano, her husband Robert McLachlan, Laura Fois and Pierce Gordon, The Great Salami Breakout follows the comedic adventures of Jake, who with help from mum Maria, escapes from a mental health hospital.
Montano, who directed as well as acted in the film, said the plot was loosely based on a road trip she took with her parents through rural Gippsland in Victoria, where she grew up.
Her son, Damian, had just been discharged from hospital after treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder in Melbourne and she took him to visit her parents in Morwell.
Her Italian migrant parents - who owned Gippsland's first wood-fired pizzeria and made their own salami - decided a trip to their beach house at Inverloch would speed his recovery.
“We stopped for a snack, dad took a detour to show us walnut trees, we stopped for another snack – a one-hour trip took three.
“They’re all happy in the front and in the back, he’s wanting to kill them and I’m trying to calm him down.
“Damian’s in the back getting more and more frustrated and they’re in the front completely oblivious,” Montano laughs.
In The Great Salami Breakout, Montano and McLachlan take on the roles of grandparents – or Nonna and Nonno – to Damian’s character Jake (Gordon), with Fois playing a young Josie.
Bringing the film to fruition was not without its challenges, with COVID restrictions throwing a spanner in the works more than once and Montano’s Multiple Sclerosis flaring up during filming of car scenes on a green screen in a garage.
“It was a hot day in October and I forgot my lines with the MS,” Montano explains.
“My co-director (Liam Power) sent everyone away and fed me my lines one at a time so we could get through filming.
“He was amazing.”