Gallipoli projects gearing up
Two major miniseries on Gallipoli both aim to start shooting by the middle of next year.
Casting is underway for the eight-hour opus Gallipoli, produced by Southern Star Entertainment for the Nine Network, which will re-enact 10 months in the Australian forces' WW1 campaign in Turkey.
Sam Worthington is highly likely to play a lead role in The Gallipoli Story, a four-parter for Foxtel which will follow Australian journalists Keith Murdoch, Charles Bean and Phillip Schuler and Brit Ellis Ashmead Bartlett, who accompanied the troops to Gallipoli in 1915 and reveal how their quest for the truth helped change the war’s course.
John Edwards, who is producing Nine’s Gallipoli with Imogen Banks and Robert Connolly, tells IF he does not see the two projects as rivals, given the very different approaches to the subject.
He invited Connolly to join the production team because he and Banks are simultaneously working on two other shows, Offspring and Party Tricks, both for Network Ten, observing, “We needed an extra pair of hands.”
Besides, says Edwards, “Ours will have much larger audience on free-to-air than theirs will on Foxtel.”
The producer says he’s “80% decided” on the locations and shooting could start as early as March. Glendyn Ivin is the set-up director and will work with another director whom Edwards has yet to reveal.
Ivin, who has been working on the project for a year, tells IF, "We are working out the [directing] model. We will probably hire a second-unit director."
The script is by Christopher Lee (Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War; Rush, Police Rescue), adapted from the 2001 book by Les Carlyon. Endemol Worldwide will distribute outside Australia.
Matchbox Pictures and Worthington’s Full Clip Pictures are producing The Gallipoli Story. The screenplay is by Jacquelin Perske, Shaun Grant, Cate Shortland and Stuart Beattie. The producers are Penny Chapman, John Schwartz and Perske. The director hasn’t been announced yet.
Worthington, Penny Win, Michael McMahon, Michael Schwarz and Luca Scalisi are executive producers. NBCUniversal will distribute internationally.
Perske tells IF the mini will almost certainly be shot in South Australia on similar locations to those featured in Peter Weir’s 1981 film Gallipoli.
Shooting will start mid-year. Worthington has been very involved in the development of the project, spending time in the writers’ room, says Perske, noting, “It’s very much a passion project for him.”
Both productions will go to air in 2015, marking the 100th anniversary of the Turkey-set battle.