Filmmaker readies bushranger tale

Melbourne-based filmmaker Matthew Holmes is in the throes of post-production on his latest film, the handsomely mounted bushranger tale The Legend of Ben Hall. It’s been a long time coming.

“I went straight out of high school into a job at an animation company called Anifex in Adelaide, and I was there for quite a number of years as an animator and a sculptor”, Holmes told IF.

During that time, the filmmaker made his first feature, 2007’s Twin Rivers, over the course of six years.

Twin Rivers was about two brothers travelling by foot across Australia at the tail-end of the 1930’s. Holmes' fondness for the Australian landscape and the hardscrabble types who populate it is given free rein in Ben Hall, the story of the twilight days of the NSW bushranger who flourished in the 1860’s. 

Shortly after leaving his animation job, Holmes moved to Melbourne, where he decided to turn the last ten minutes of his script about Hall into a short, crowdfunding via Kickstarter.  When the donations kept rolling in, Holmes and his team made the call to extend the film to around one hour long.

Over the course of a three week shoot in regional Victoria, Holmes cut together a short trailer which caught the eye of Odin’s Eye, with whom the director was already in development on another project. With their backing, a three week-shoot became just the first round of a feature shoot – the entire thing took 11 weeks.

While the lead roles had already been cast, a second period of shooting enabled the producers to enlist the likes of Callan McAuliffe, back in Australia for the first time since The Great Gatsby.

Distributor Pinnacle Films is eyeing a mid-year release, with possible festival exposure first. 

Next off the block? 

Odin’s Eye and Ben Hall-executive producer Greg McLean are on board for the filmmaker’s next plunge into the nineteenth century, though one with a twist: Territorial, a creature feature set in the bushranger era – “it should be fun”, said Holmes.