Gallipoli miniseries an “incredibly daunting” task

2013-05-27_2348When producer Imogen Banks first faced the challenge of telling the Gallipoli story for Nine, she conceded it was a daunting prospect.

After all the 1981 film of the same name had been such a triumphant film. How could it possibly be improved?

“The film was so beautiful, I loved it. And that scared me, initially, about doing it. But that was a battle. They were telling the story of a battle,” she explained.

For the 4 x 2 hr miniseries, the canvas is much larger.

Gallipoli is still in development, not due to air until the 100th anniversary in 2015, but there is already enthusiasm for early scripts by writer Christopher Lee.

“When Chris Lee delivered the Howzat script it was the best thing he’s ever done, including the Secret Life pilot and Rescue pilot and Paper Giants,” Producer John Edwards said.

“For first drafts, Gallipoli is incredibly beautiful. The poetry of Les’ (Carlyon) book he’s managed to capture. The balance between this huge, epic political story and the story through the eyes of the individuals going through it is balanced and so hard to achieve. Frankly we didn’t expect to achieve it until we were shooting it, but that’s what he’s got from the get-go.”

“I’m blown away from his craft skills. Being able to wrangle all the material  -the battles, the characters, the politics, the personal, the intimacy of it, plus the global strategy- and to turn it into a readable draft is astonishing,” Banks agreed.

Gallipoli will also include a Turkish point of view in the story.

Some shooting will begin before Christmas, with the main unit to begin in February.

Banks and Edwards, who will produce with Robert Connolly (Balibo, The Boys, Underground: The Julian Assange Story, The Slap), are currently forming ideas on cast.

“Because it’s such a strong story it doesn’t necessarily need cast to sell it as a ‘must-see’ thing. So we’ve been waiting for scripts to cast it appropriately, but we’re beginning to form ideas now about who we’d like to go after,” said Banks.

“It’s an incredibly daunting task because it’s the responsibility of telling a national myth on one level but without becoming jingoistic,” Edwards insists.

“It’s a large responsibility to respect the traditions and, at the same time, to tell the truth.”

Gallipoli airs on Nine in 2015.

7 Comments:

  1. I’m fairly sure David has mentioned it here but the ABC has commissioned ‘Anzac Girls’, a mini-series and shooting will begin later this year I understand. They are currentlt casting.

  2. I’m really glad Australia is finally going to have it’s own Band Of Brothers/The Pacific type mini series.
    I’ve been waiting a long time for one, it’ll be better than In Their Footsteps.
    I’m glad it’s not just two episodes like normal Australian miniseries tend to be. It definitely deserves the 4 nights of 2 hour screenings, to be enough time story-wise anyways.
    I’m sure it’ll be a great miniseries to watch in 2015 for the 100th Anniversary.

  3. Victor, sounds as though Nine has the funding, the book and the top production talent. I just wonder how much more money the various funding bodies will be willing to invest in similar dramas given Nine have secured theirs early?

  4. Ronnie the ABC does have something but hasn’t announced it yet. The big issue for Nine’s series is just how it is going to pay for an 8 hour period war drama. 4 hours would be more manageable financially. I suspect there is a lot of water to go under the bridge on this one and with all the networks doing their Gallipoli pieces that the longer they are the more audience fatigue there will be. People will be really over it. Just how many points of view can you offer on this history?

  5. It’s totally great that Nine have commissioned an ambitious “event” drama series for 2015 but it begs the question why isn’t this being done by the ABC? It’s perfect for the national broadcaster but instead we get choices like Cliffy. Go figure. Something not quite right within the ABC process IMHO.

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