UK distributor Momentum Pictures, which recently released controversial film Shame, has acquired the rights to independent World War I film Forbidden Ground.

The sale – for all media – was negotiated by the Australian film’s international sales agent Odin’s Eye Entertainment at the European Film Market in Berlin. It also sold to Dutch Film Works for Benelux and Star Alliance for China.

It will be the second recent Australian war film that Momentum has acquired after picking up Beneath Hill 60 back in 2010. Forbidden Ground, which finished shooting in NSW late last year, is set in France in 1916 during World War I.

Momentum will make a decision about a potential theatrical release after Forbidden Ground is finished, which is expected in late-May/early-April.

The film’s lead, Sergeant Wilkins (Johan Earl), wakes up in a bomb crater in the middle of No Man's Land after his entire division is annihilated by German machine guns. As he clutches his way back to his own lines, he comes across two other soldiers (Tim Pocock, from X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Martin Copping) who are still alive. Together they manoeuvre through the treacherous terrain that lies ahead and the insurmountable challenges thrown at them by the German forces.

“It was probably one of the most challenging experiences of my life thus far,” says Earl of the film that he wrote, co-directed and co-produced.

"I guess as a filmmaker I always want to challenge myself…if you don’t challenge yourself, it's not really worth making. If something is too easy to make, then maybe it’s something that anybody can do."

The decision to make the film came about after delaying action flick 9 Hours To Dawn (it's expected to have a budget of about $2.5 million and be shot in Sydney).

First-time feature director Adrian Powers co-directed Forbidden Ground with Earl, while Denai Grace co-produced. Cameras used on the Scarlett Fire production were the Sony F3, RED ONE and Phantom.

More than 300kg of explosives – through Earl’s special effects company Armzfx – were set off around Dubbo, NSW for the film (other parts were shot in Sydney). This helped create a muddy void for No Man’s Land and also for battle scenes. Earl says having the armoury and explosion background made it easier.

“It was the only way we were able to do this – the costs associated doing a film like this on such a budget would be impossible if I didn’t have the weapons and explosives background,” he says.

Although remaining tight-lipped on the budget, he added: “it’s fair to say it cost me twice what I expected, yet half of what everyone else would expect it to be”.

Post-production is currently being done through DCP Australia. Earl says recreating the extent of the battlefield will be done utilising matte paintings and visual effects.

"World War I is kind of an old genre that’s been left behind in the modern action zone so you just don’t see World War I with these stylistic effects."

In a statement, Odin's Eye Entertainment's chief executive Michael Favelle said he was thrilled with the response from the three-minute promo seen in Berlin. "We have high expectations for the film and it’s wonderful that distributors are also excited about its potential."

To view the film’s Facebook page, click here.

The poster for Forbidden Ground

A scene from the film

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