It was a case of art imitating life for a Melbourne priest and funeral directors last week when they took part in filming funeral scenes for the ABC mini-series The Slap.

Father Ioannis of St George’s church in Thornbury joined Maria Stamelos and Craig Broderick, of Victoria Funerals in Brunswick, acting as extras in scenes for the series based on Christos Tsiolkas’ award-winning novel, which is currently being filmed across Victoria. Speaking to Neos Kosmos, Mrs Stamelos said her husband Chris Stamelos had organised for herself and Funeral Director’s Assistant Craig Broderick to attend the filming as consultants.

“I went along to take photos and ended up replacing the actor Funeral Director, so the fact that they sent me to hair and makeup and added me as an extra caught me by surprise,” Mrs Stamelos said. “It was an absolutely different day in the office but a good experience.” The directors and film crew were very specific about having every detail accurate in reenacting a traditional Greek Orthodox funeral, Mrs Stamelos said.

“They were very good with attention to detail, right down to the bottle of oil and wine and bowl of wheat,” she said. “They kept checking details with us and wanted to get everything absolutely right.” St George’s Church in St David St, Thornbury, was chosen specifically as a filming location due to its recognition within the Greek community. “We conduct many funerals at St George’s and the producer did want to portray someone who specialises in Greek Orthodox funerals and of course that would be Chris Stamelos’ company Victoria Funerals,” Mrs Stamelos said.

Victoria Funerals, the only Greek independently owned Funeral Company in Victoria with its own premises, previously had its chapel used during the filming of SBS television series Carla Cametti. While it was a long day of filming, Mrs Stamelos said she has more appreciation for the process after seeing it firsthand. “You see how much work and how many people are involved,” she said.

Although the acting roles may not have been a huge stretch of the imagination, Mrs Stamelos said it was a lot more light-hearted than business as usual. “It was nothing different to what we do every day just repeating the same thing over, but the positive thing was there was no real funeral so the depth of emotion was not there. We may be in this industry, but we still get affected, so it was a more lighthearted day because it was all pretend.”

The funeral director said she is eagerly awaiting the final product. “We’re all excited to see the footage that may show us for a couple of seconds as a result of filming for a whole day.”