At a press conference in Adelaide this morning, Sam told journalists what his vision was for his Foxtel miniseries ‘Deadline Gallipoli’.
He stated that he believes he has uncovered a fresh take on the Gallipoli story that is not simply “a re-telling of the last 20 minutes of Peter Weir’s movie”, one which will resonate with modern audiences in the era of WikiLeaks and whistleblower Edward Snowden.
“The biggest reason I wanted to do this was because I didn’t realise what that (Anzac) spirit was,” he said. “I thought that I’d lost it. I didn’t know what we were commemorating. With our show, what I find is that these were soldiers who were excited to go there, young guys from the bush who went to this kind of war zone at the other end of the world.”
The project tells the story of the journalists ‘embedded’ with the troops on the ill-fated campaign and their fight to get the truth about how badly the fighting was going out from behind the lines.
‘We wanted to have a different way of looking at this moment in our history, that defined us as a nation to some respect,’ he said.
‘Me and my producing partner John Schwarz wanted to come up with an idea so that we could be part of this 100-year commemoration of the Gallipoli campaign, but we didn’t want it to be the old slouch hat, bully beef kind of story.
The more we uncovered about these journalists, the more we realised we had an All the President’s Men in a war zone kind of movie where these guys actually fought to get the news out because censorship was so strong back then.
If you look at WikiLeaks and any kind of war zone where there is censorship, the story and the idea and the themes are still as relevant today as they were back n 1915.’
As previously mentioned, Sam will play Age journalist Phillip Schuler, who travelled with the first convoy to Turkey in 1915.
‘The soldiers themselves would have kept fighting for as long as they were told to. I can appreciate that spirit. The thrilling part of the drama is the story of these four journalists fighting the upper echelons of the military to get the truth out and stop the carnage.’
Sam was unable to give any casting news re- the roles of legendary Australian war correspondent Charles Bean, journalist Keith Murdoch and British correspondent Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett.
‘Let’s just say I have a very big Rolodex and a lot of mates,’ he says. ‘It’s more juggling all the different schedules. We haven’t finalised anything yet.’
Deadline Gallipoli will begin production in South Australia this year and will be released to coincide with next year’s centenary commemorations.
The SA State Government will contribute $618,000 to the project, which is expected to employ 1,300 people, most of them crew from the local region.
Sam told journalists that Maslin Beach in the Fleurieu Peninsula will double as Anzac Cove.
‘Me and my friend went to Gallipoli in August and the topography alone matches here,’ he said.
Sam says the new $42 million Glenside Studios put the state at the top of his list as a location for the shoot.
‘This facility alone is up there with some of the best I have seen in the world,’ he said. ‘Things like this don’t really exist (elsewhere in Australia). This is American standard. This is, like, another level. I went and had a look at some of the stages and they’re massive,’ he said.
‘For something of an undertaking like the project we’re trying to do, which is very ambitious, we need the highest calibre and we need the best kind of facility we can find.’
South Australian premier Jay Weatherill referred to the favourable infrastructure and talent available in SA for the project.
‘We are very proud that we have been chosen to film what I think will be a very important contribution to the 100th commemoration of the events of World War One,’ he said.
The project will begin filming in mid-2014 and the show will air on Foxtel in 2015.