Follow the progress of the upcoming Epic Australia WWI Feature Film, Beneath Hill 60 as it goes overseas and onto DVD. From the Development, Pre Production to the Shoot and Post Production up to it's release in the Cinemas and now on DVD and BLU RAY, from Paramount, from August 19, 2010.

Monday, August 31, 2009


While the Australian tunnellers were trying to undermine the Germans, deep below the surface of the Western Front, the German tunnellers were trying to get to the Australians the same way. In Beneath Hill 60, the Germans play quite a prominent role, not just as evil shadows.

We are fortunate to have some very talented German and German-speaking actors on board with us. Also, a special thanks to our German translation and language advisor, Verena von der Heiden.

Marcus Costello (left) as Ernst Wagner with Kenneth Spiteri as Karl Babek in the German tunnels beneath Hill 60.
Photo by Wendy McDougall.

Dennis Kreuseler as a German soldier.
Photo by Wendy McDougall.

Marcus Costello as German Tunneller Ernst Wagner climbing a shaft.
Karl Babek (Kenneth Spiteri) watches from below.
Photo by Wendy McDougall.

Production Stills

Shoot Week 5 had some very exciting scenes! Our Stills Photographer, Wendy McDougall captured the action in the tunnels and trenches.

Suffocating darkness. Brendan Cowell as Captain Oliver Woodward in the claustrophobic tunnels of the Western Front.
Photo by Wendy McDougall.

The 1st Australian Tunnelers' rugby team prepares to take on the Royal Northumberland Fuiliers.
The SFX team's smoke machine creates a wonderful atmosphere of foreboding.
Photo by Wendy McDougall.

Brendan Cowell as Captain Oliver Woodward (left) and Anthony Hayes as Captain William McBride with a map of the underground tunnel system.
Photo by Wendy McDougall.

Rain (courtesy of the Special Effects Deparment) in the trenches on the Western Front.
Photo by Wendy McDougall.

Crawling away from the Red House (German Machine gun emplacement) before the explosion.
Photo by Wendy McDougall.

Harrison Gilbertson as Tunneller Frank Tiffin.
Photo by Wendy McDougall.

Tunneller Jim Sneddon (Alan Dukes) and his son Walter (Alex Thompson) wearing rescue equipment in the tunnels.
Photo by Wendy McDougall.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


We've taken a break from the dusty trenches and have moved the Shoot to the 'underground' tunnels - constructed above ground in a studio shed at Bohle. The Art Department, SFX, Lighting, Sound and Makeup teams have done an amazing job to create a very claustrophobic and suffocating atmosphere in the low, dripping, muddy tunnels.

Jim Sneddon (Alan Dukes) and Walter Sneddon (Alex Thompson) clay-kicking to lengthen a tunnel.
Photo by Stills Photographer, Wendy McDougall.

Captain William McBride (Anthony Hayes) at his desk inside a dugout.
Photo by Stills Photographer, Wendy McDougall.

Most of the tunnels beneath Hill 60 had names to help identify them. The Aussies named them after familiar places from home. Today's filming was in the 'Townsville' tunnel.
Photo by Wendy McDgouall: Lead actor, Brendan Cowell, as Oliver Woodward.

Young and terrified Sapper, Frank Tiffin (Harrison Gilbertson), in his bunker.
Photo by Stills Photographer, Wendy McDougall.

The Men

Captain Oliver Woodward (Brendan Cowell) leads his team through the mud to take out a German machine gun nest.
Photo by Stills Photographer, Wendy McDougall.

Sapper Norman Morris (Gyton Grantley).
Photo by Stills Photographer, Wendy McDougall.

Sergeant Bill Fraser (Steve Le Marquand).
Photo by Stills Photographer, Wendy McDougall.

Sapper Frank Tiffin (Harrison Gilbertson).
Photo by Stills Photographer, Wendy McDougall.

Sapper Percy Marsden (Warwick Young).
Photo by Stills Photographer, Wendy McDougall.

Billy Bacon, nicknamed "Streaky" for his lightening speed and agility. Played by Mark Coles Smith. 
Photo by Stills Photographer, Wendy McDougall. 

 Jim Sneddon (above) played by Alan Dukes and Walter Sneddon (below) played by Alex Thompson. The Sneddons were a real father-son team from Walsend in NSW who joined up together.
Photo by Stills Photographer, Wendy McDougall.

Captain William McBride (Anthony Hayes).
Photo by Stills Photographer, Wendy McDougall.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

CREW PROFILE: Caroline Baum talks to on-set nurse, Bernadette Kersh.

Bernadette Kersh tending to SFX Supervisor, Dan Oliver.

Bernie Kersh prefers having nothing to do. 

She’s the on-location nurse for the production and ap

art from standing on the sideline

s keeping a vigilant eye on the action, she  hopes not to be called on. So far, she’s only had to attend to minor cuts as people hit their heads on the tunnels, un-used to how low they are... and she’s administering  decongestants as people find it hard to breathe due to the amount of dust in the air. Fortunately all the serious wounds on set are fake, courtesy of the make up team. 

Beneath Hill 60 is Bernie’s first experience of  being an on-set nurse. But she is  used to dramatic real-life situations - as a nurse at Townsville General Hospital she’s looked after premature babies in the Intensive Care Unit and she’s also had extensive experience  in the mines around the city, dealing with industrial accidents in high-risk situations. 

‘It was a bit of a dare going into that world’ says  Bernie. ‘I just answered an ad in the paper ..I thought the work I had done in Africa had prepared me for pretty much anything, Traveling in Kenya, I had worked in a remote, very poor  orphanage and set up a mobile wound clinic to 

deal with things like flesh eating bug infections, machete slashes, child abuse burns and ulcers due to poor nutrition .’

She found herself as one of the small group of women working among four to five hundred blokes at the Gunpowder mine four hours west of Mount Isa. ‘They always rib you at first  and check out ‘the new meat’ , as they call you. But I grew up with seven brothers so I could handle it. I wore an  engagement ring at first, which was a tip I got from Connor (one of her brothers, who is also an investor in the film). It made everyone feel safer.’

Bernie learned to use full breathing apparatus so she could go down into the mines in case she needed to. ‘ I like it down there!’ she says. ‘There’s a great sense of fellowship.’ 

She dealt with severe crushing injuries, heart attacks and death with her usual down-to- earth calm and compassion. 

‘I was born with club feet and I think having had surgery at a very early age has made me  better able to empathise with people, whether it’s the patient, or, in the case of tiny babies, their parents, who are suffering just as much,’ says Bernie, who would like to extend her experience in ICU into  combining her skills  wit

h education to work with underprivileged kids or  NGOs like Medecins sans Frontieres.

When she’s not  on duty, Bernie’s favourite way to relax is ‘hanging out at my mum’s place (not far from the location for the Waddell homestead) with the horses, friends and family around a camp fire with a guitar - or ten pin bowling, at which I’m hopeless but it’s a great laugh!’

Bernie with orphaned twins, William and Willikista, in Kenya.

CREW PROFILE: Caroline Baum talks to Eric Fleury, in charge of on-set catering for the shoot in Townsville.

My husband is getting fatter and fatter.

Each day when he comes home at the end of the shoot I ask: ‘So what was for lunch/dinner ?’

The reply goes something like this: 

‘Well, there was a choice between grass fed fillet of beef or New Zealand flounder with a ginger sauce’

‘And what did you choose?’ I say, trying to sound casually disinterested instead of  downright jealous .

‘Um well I had both actually... protein, you know.…

‘And was there a dessert?”

‘Oh yes, there was bread and butter pudding with roasted pears’ (for which you can  substitute Pavlova,  macadamia nut pie  and other wicked temptations served up with vanilla bean custard and ice cream on any given day).

At breakfast there are pancakes with maple syrup and porridge with cinnamon and raisins

 as well as the standard egg and fry up dishes. 

According to Napoleon, an army marches on its stomach. (He was so concerned about the dietary welfare of his troops on long overseas campaigns that he instigated a national competition to invent the most travel friendly food -  the inventor of tinned sardines was the winner.)  

Nowhere are Napoleon’s words truer than on the set of Beneath Hill 60, where the prospect of  a meal  prepared by Eric, known as Cookie, keeps the morale of all troops, whether cast or crew, high.  Born in Cherbourg, in north west France, he works out of Brisbane,  where he  also runs a  wholesale meat business called Green and Gold. After time spent in the Caribbean working with Club Med resorts, he traveled to Mexico and Haiti, developing a repertoire of dishes from the world’s exotic cuisines and then set up  two  restaurants of his own in Brisbane-  Cafe Galichet and Fleury’s - before going into the film catering business.   He  has provided on location  catering for productions including  Pacific, the Spielberg /Tom Hanks mini series on which cast the cast and crew of one thousand consumed  up to 1.3 tonnes of meat a week, The Great Raid, House of Wax and Anaconda.  

Eric prepares all the food for Hill 60 himself,  preferring to work alone in his mobile kitchen with his wife Louise in charge of the buffet. He writes up a menu for each day,  which always includes a couple of salads and  a vegetarian option which was particularly appreciated by vegan cast member Bella Heathcote. He’s used to special dietary requests. 

‘On The Great Raid we had thirty eight different diets to accommodate. Stars all have their own preferences. In the case of Benjamin Bratt, it was egg whites for breakfast and only fish or chicken for lunch.’

Budget is not what determines cast and crew satisfaction, according to Eric. ‘It’s like making a garden  - you don’t need very expensive ingredients to make it beautiful,’ he says, adding that  ‘what  film people like best is a mixture of healthy food and comfort food. They want variety, freshness and balance, but they don’t want rich fancy restaurant food.’

The act of eating together at the start of the shoot is like a kind of unofficial communion, bringing everyone together to share sustenance before  the arduous work begins. Each and every member of the production  has probably given thanks  at least once  for not being on the dreadful rations that  barely sustained the men at Ypres. But when you see the conditions they are working under, slogging it out in the middle of a chilly night wading through mud, they certainly look like they deserve that second helping of pud.

Cookie stirring up a feast in the kitchen.

His lovely wife, Louise, is in charge of the Buffet.

Sound tempting?
Here's an example of one of Cookie's delicious recipes:

Pears and milk chocolate bread and butter pudding served with a warm caramel sauce
Caramel sauce .
Butter unsalted : 250 g
Brown sugar : 250 g
Cream : 800ml
Corn flour : 2 tea spoon
Water : 50 ml
Sauce :
Melt your butter slowly add your brown sugar stir it to the point to become creamy and lighter colour add your cream and cook slowly for a good half hour. Finish with a 2 tea spoon of corn flour  .
Fresh pears : 8
Butter : 40 g
Brown sugar : 60 g
Eggs : 6
Castor sugar : 150 g
Cream : 600 ml
Milk : 1 litre
Raisin Bread : 1 pack
Milk Chocolate button : 250 g
Soft butter : 100 g
Cinnamon : ½ tea spoon
Honey : 50 ml
Vanilla essence : 2 tea spoons
All spices : ½ tea spoon
Peel your pears and cut them in chunky quarters, melt butter in pan, sauté the pears and add brown sugar. Sauté  cook for a few minutes to the point that the sugar melt around the pears should take  couple of minutes. Stay next to your fry pan, you do not want burn the sugar .
In the bowl put white sugar + eggs + honey + cinnamon + all spices + vanilla whisk for a few seconds add your cream and milk
Butter your slice of Raisin bread take your baking dish, pour some milk first at the bottom of your dish just to cover the bottom.
Put your first layer of bread, add pears + chocolate, pour your mixture, add your next layer of bread, press the bread with your hand to make sure that the bread infuse all the egg mixture. Do the same process for 3 layers, cook for 40 minute in a 160 -170 c  oven   ( check with a knife if it’s cooked, the blade of your knife should be clean and hot if not let the dish cook for a few more minutes ) .
When cooked, let rest the dessert for a 10 minutes. Sprinkle some icing sugar to the top served with your warm caramel sauce and if want to be naughty some lovely vanilla creamy ice cream and a lovely glass of champagne.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Beneath Hill 60 on Facebook

Monday, August 3, 2009

Homestead, Wedding and Burns Philp Office

The First Week of Shoot got the film off to a terrific start. All the Civilian scenes were shot in Week I - at the Waddell family Homestead, in the 'Burns Philp Office', at the Wedding Church and the scene at Alligator Creek. Next, we'll make the move to the tunnels and trenches and begin to recreate WWI !

Producer, Bill Leimbach getting into Costume as the Head of the Burns Philp Office.

The typing pool at Burns Philp

Adrienne "Ago" Ogle makes the finishing touches on props before the cameras roll.

Chris Evans, 3rd AD takes charge at the Wedding Church.

Chris directing the Extras at Burns Philp.

The angelic Marjorie (Bella Heathcote) in her bridal gown with her newly-wed husband, Oliver Woodward (Brendan Cowell).

Writer, David Roach getting into character as the 'disapproving man'.

The 'Disapproving Man' gets back to his writing.

A Burns Philp Customer.


Caro getting her wig on in the Makeup Truck.

A Burns Philp Customer

David and Caro are partners in 'Disapproval' according to their withering stares.

Everyone from the Production Office wants to have at their 15 minutes of fame as an Extra.
Here's Producer's Assistant Georgie getting her hair done in the Makeup Truck.

Simon Ward from WIN TV interviewing our leading lady, Bella Heathcote.

Art Department Assistant, Tania Leimbach making German tunnel maps in 'Fusselein's Bunker' - in the basement of Customs House.

Beneath Hill 60

Beneath Hill 60
Click on the DVD to visit the Official website