Mordaunt to direct war correspondent biopic

24 July, 2014 by Don Groves

After shooting his debut film The Rocket in northern Laos and Thailand, Kim Mordaunt will go back to the region to direct a biopic about the legendary Australian combat photo-journalist Neil Davis.

One Crowded Hour is based on Tim Bowden’s biography of that title and is set in Australia, Vietnam and Cambodia.


For more than 20 years from the early 1960s, Davis brought enduring images of the full horror of war directly from the battlefront to the world’s TV’s screens.

After surviving numerous wars he was killed in September 1985 while filming an attempted coup in the streets of Bangkok. His still-running camera recorded his own death.

Andy Cox is writing the screenplay for producers Todd Fellman (Bait, Mental, A Few Best Men) and Lance Kelleher, with Screen Australia funding development.

“We will shoot mostly in Australia and likely Vietnam but are yet to scout in Asia so we may end up finding an alternative,” Fellman told IF. “We plan to start casting by the end of the year with a view to shooting in the middle of next year, and we’re about to start looking at sales and distribution.”

Mordaunt described Davis as a “remarkably courageous and compassionate man who touched the hearts of many whilst running the frontline with Vietnamese and Cambodian soldiers, brushing continuously with death, which is a major theme of the film.

“He suffered much loss in his own life yet he became more interested in humanity than [taking] sides. He really helped turned the tide on the way the Vietnam War was perceived around the world, the way he and the public viewed life and loss of the 'other.' Neil was also hugely charismatic, curious and playful and crowded every minute with the adrenalin of life.

“This is early days for me on this project so there is still lots to learn about Neil, and many of his friends and work colleagues to meet. Biographies are complex, trying to get away from the clichés of biopics, balance the enigma of Neil and find/illustrate what really made him tick.”

Mordaunt is looking forward to collaborating again with Cox, who was script consultant on The Rocket.

With his producer/partner Sylvia Wilczynski at Red Lamp Films, Mordaunt is developing Pink Mist, a post-war, multiple-genre film set in Africa and Australia.

“There’s a lot of interest from local and international partners following the success of The Rocket,” he says. “Like The Rocket, Pink Mist is set in a gripping post-war environment but with plenty of humour, action and heart, and will enable the audience to enter a world we haven’t seen before on film. It’s an adult story this time, a love story/action/drama, in English language with a couple of great Australian characters. And a lot of animals.

“We’ll be shooting mostly in Africa, partly in Sydney. It’s a fresh take on a war/post-war film – so many war films feel familiar and this film certainly won’t be familiar.”