Paul Lawrence (Sean Myers, billed here as Sean McEuan) sells shirts at a Sydney department store but dreams of attending art school. His girlfriend, Cara (Amber Rodgers, billed as Julie Rodgers), leaves Sydney for London and Paul becomes the protege of designer Marie Rosefield (Brenda Senders).
Through Marie, he becomes part of the sophisticated world of Sydney’s art society – known as “the set” – and is soon commissioned by artist Mark Bronoski (Denis Doonan) to design a theatrical set for British stage director John L. Fredericks (Michael Charnley).
Paul is helped in this endeavour by art student Tony Brown (Rod Mullinar), who is dating Paul’s cousin, Kim Sylvester (Bronwyn Barber).
The two men begin a homosexual affair which ultimately leads to Paul attempting suicide. When he recovers, he reunites with Cara and devises a tremendous theatrical set.
Meanwhile, Kim’s mother Peggy (Hazel Phillips) has an affair with the lecherous Bronoski.
The Set was one of the first Australian feature films to include homosexuality as a main theme, although the Australian tabloid press sensationalised the “scandalous” nude scene by Hazel Phillips in a swimming pool, rather than any coverage of the homosexual relationship.
Phillips ridiculed all the fuss, saying: “I’m up to my neck in water. There’s not all that much to see. I look like a starving young lad – I’m not exactly flopping around the pool.”
The film was shot in 1969 in black & white. No sets were used, with filming taking place in private houses on Sydney’s north shore and in the inner-city suburb of Paddington.
Sean Myers (as Sean McEuan)
Amber Rodgers (as Julie Rodgers)
John L. Fredericks
Elza Stenning (as Elza Jacoby)
Tracy Lee (Maxwell Ritchie)