A 4-part ABC documentary will examine how the First World War changed the country, its soldiers and their families, nurses and people who opposed the war.

The producer of The War That Changed Us, Electric Pictures’ Andrew Ogilvie, originally envisioned the program as an international co-production between the ABC, the BBC and PBS stations in the US.

But Ogilvie says the ABC wanted a film which reflected a uniquely Australian perspective without having to comply with the demands of international broadcasters.

It’s now in production under the auspices of the ABC/Screen Australia National Documentary Program, supported by Screen West and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Director Don Featherstone (Kokoda, Singapore 1942 End of Empire) has filmed interviews with 10 Australian historians and “atmospheric” footage of battlefields in Europe including the Western Front, and Gallipoli.

In November co-director James Bogle will film dramatic re-enactments revolving around five individuals: a high-ranking officer, a soldier of lower rank, nurse Kitty McNaughton, a woman who was a pacifist, and Tom Barker, a trade unionist who was one of the leaders of the Industrial Workers of the World movement.

Casting is underway. McNaughton is played by Honey Debelle in the upcoming ABC-TV miniseries Anzac Girls. The screenplay is by Featherstone and historian/author Dr Clare Wright.

Ogilvie tells IF, “We will look at these five Australians during and beyond the war to show how it dramatically changed these people, their families and friends, and Australia itself.”

The series will air in late 2014 as part of the ABC’s centenary of WW1 programming. Ogilvie’s most recent work was Desert War, a two -part series about the North African battles at Tobruk and El Alamein in 1941-42, which screened on the ABC on Anzac Day.

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