Screen Australia today announced it would back $5.7m (A$8m) war movie Beneath Hill 60, the only feature to secure the federal government agency’s backing this month.
The fully Australian production, which is set on the Western Front in Belgium during World War I but will be entirely filmed in Townsville in Queensland, goes into production from July 20.
Experienced theatre director Jeremy Sims (Last Train To Freo) is directing the project, which paints a picture of what it was like to be one of the 4,000 Australian miners employed during the war to quietly build tunnels under the German positions.
Producer Bill Leimbach and writer and co-producer David Roach have substantial backing from the mining town of Townsville: local business people are providing nearly 20% of the budget, key locations and earth moving equipment are being supplied for nothing, and the army is providing artillery from the period.
Transmission has secured Australian/New Zealand rights and the producers are in discussion with UK sales agent Intandem. Two state government agencies, the New South Wales Film and Television Office and the Pacific Film and Television Commission, are also investors.
The film is based on the wartime experiences of one-time real-life resident of Townsville, Captain Oliver Woodward, to be played by Brendan Cowell (Noise). When the 19 mines that Woodward and the rest of the men laid, exploded in sequence, the sound could be heard from London.
Roach co-wrote all the features that have been made by Yahoo Serious, including Young Einstein. Leimbach is best known for documentaries.
Screen Australia this month decided to invest $6.1m (A$8.6m) in 13 projects worth $18.8m (A$26.4m) including television drama series and documentaries.