Matchbox Pictures will produce a new six-hour mini-series about Australian and English journalists covering the battle of Gallipoli with actor Sam Worthington to co-produce, and possibly star in. Among the journalists to be portrayed is Keith Murdoch, father of Rupert Murdoch.
Keith Murdoch’s endeavours in covering Gallipoli is near legendary, credited in some quarters with being a turning point in what had been a badly run campaign.
Penny Chapman of Matchbox Pictures, producers of The Slap and The Straits, told Encore Worthington and his FullClip Productions partner John Schwarz brought the project to NBCUniversal which FullClip is in talks with on other productions, and which owns a major interest in Matchbox Pictures.
The untitled project has received development funding by Foxtel.
The mini-series follows three embedded journalists who see the war going wrong but can’t report on it; Charles Bean, British war correspondent Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett and Rupert Murdoch’s father Keith Murdoch as well as Australian war photographer Philip Shuler.
Chapman told Encore: “We’ve been talking since September last year. We took it to Brian Walsh, Foxtel’s director of TV, who loved it. So we did a brainstorm and we’re currently working on the script.”
Brian Walsh, Foxtel executive director of television said in a statement: “Sam Worthington has brought to Foxtel a rich and riveting concept and a story of great significance. I am delighted Sam and the team at Matchbox Pictures have chosen Foxtel as the broadcaster for this symbolic television drama series. It will be one of many initiatives Foxtel will undertake in 2015 to mark the 100th year since the devastating loss of lives on the shores of Gallipoli.”
While no directors have been attached, Chapman said the writing team is Cate Shortland writer and director of Lore, Jacquelin Perske, writer of Foxtel’s Spirited, Snowtown writer Shaun Grant and Wain Fimeri, writer and director of Revealing Gallipoli and Charles Bean’s War, Bean being one of the journalists in the story.
Chapman said it’s not likely production will take place in Gallipoli and couldn’t give indication on the budget.
Chapman: “It’s hard to know the budget, it’s not anything paltry. That said, we like to pride ourselves on high quality stuff produced on a quarter of what the US does. But we’re hoping other partners will come on board.”
Similarly, with Worthington possibly on board to act, Chapman said: “We’re talking with high profile actors to come on board.”
Funding is expected from Screen Australia, state funding bodies and Foxtel.