Nine weeks of filming for the Foxtel-commissioned miniseries ‘Deadline Gallipoli’ begins today.
The series, which we first mentioned back in June 2012, sees Sam playing one of the lead roles as well as Executive Producing. His Full Clip Productions partners Michael and John Schwarz are also taking on behind-the-scenes roles as Executive Producer and Producer respectively.
The four-hour TV miniseries tells the story of the Gallipoli campaign through the eyes of Australian war correspondents Charles Bean (Joel Jackson) and Keith Murdoch (Ewen Leslie), photographer Philip Schuler (played by Sam) and Britain’s Ellis Ashmead Bartlett (Hugh Dancy).
Charles Dance is due to arrive next week to play the British General Sir Ian Hamilton who heads the British command at Gallipoli, and Sam is expected in Adelaide the following week.
In rehearsal late last week Hugh Dancy said he came into the role knowing relatively little about the Anzacs. In his coverage of the Gallipoli campaign, British journalist Bartlett wrote of the bravery of the Australian soldiers and is credited with starting the Anzac legend.
“I am interested because the focus of this in particular is the myth makers,” he said. “For better or for worse we mythologise things because they’re remarkable and they deserve to be remembered, and also because they’re such horrific events we can’t think of another way to respond to them.”
Winning the role of Charles Bean is a big break for NIDA graduate Joel Jackson, 22, a former musician from Western Australia who made a selfie screen test in remote Karratha using a camera on top of a crayfish crate after a day working in the mines.
Jackson has since read everything he can find about the Oxford-educated war historian C.E.W. Bean, including his diary, and has visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra where Bean’s papers are held. He says the Anzac legend has helped Australians forge a sense of national identity by providing a common point of history and a story people can connect with.
“Anzac Day for me is the most special day of the year, always has been,” he says. “I grew up in Albany which is where they departed for Cairo and every year my grandfather would tell you the traditions of the Anzacs.”
Sydney-based actor Ewen Leslie has the job of playing war correspondent Keith Murdoch, who smuggled out a letter critical of the British command. Leslie said he had read what he could find about Sir Keith.
“I suppose you take as much stuff as you can and try to put together a picture of someone,” he said. “You bring parts of yourself to him and hopefully meet in the middle.”
Deadline Gallipoli is the third Gallipoli project to come to South Australia in less than a year following the ABC miniseries Anzac Girls and Russell Crowe’s blockbuster film The Water Diviner. The SA Government has invested $618,000 in Sam’s project which will use the Adelaide Studios and locations including Maslins Beach which will double as Anzac Cove. It is expected to give a $6 million boost to the economy.
Other actors to join the shoot are Rachel Griffiths, who plays Sir Ian’s society wife, Bryan Brown as General William Bridges and two Australian actors based in LA, Anna Torv and Jessica De Gouw.
The director is Australian Michael Rymer who, with Dancy, has just finished shooting a season of the television series Hannibal in Canada.