The life of Charles Bean encompassed many different parts of the world which were all important to tell his story and so, initially, the greatest challenge for the production was finding the locations to recreate France, Gallipoli, Egypt, outback NSW and the home and hospital of Charles’ later life – all in some sort of proximity to each other.
At one stage it looked like the production was going to stretch from one end of Victoria to the other. This was neatly solved by using a beautiful property past Geelong called Warrambeen.
Warrambeen is a working sheep station which offered solutions for many of our locations all within a short distance from the beautiful bluestone shearer’s quarters, where we stayed. There was a rolling green paddock which served as French battlefields, a magnificent bluestone woolshed which covered French farm buildings and a NSW woolshed, a manor house that doubled as Egypt and a dormant volcanic crater in which we recreated Gallipoli. The property was also close enough to the beach to allow us to recreate the Gallipoli landing at Point Addis, where we found very similar terrain to that of Turkey.
The later Bean footage was all filmed in and around Williamstown, Melbourne.
Another quandary that presented itself was the need to cover a number of ages of the characters. Casting relieved most of these problems but it was decided that Nick Farnell would have to go through an aging process over the duration of the film in order to maintain the believability of the Charles Bean character. Make up specialist José Perez was able to weave some magic and we were able to take Nick from a youthful 25 to an elderly man with a minimum of fuss.
The realism was maintained by also paying special attention to the production design, where Neil Angwin and Tim Burgin got stuck into the dirt at Warrambeen. The experienced Ian Sparke was on hand with his amazing costume design and kept us on track as our historical consultant.
Overall the cast and crew were fantastic in what were difficult (and cold) conditions. Everyone’s experience at Warrambeen was an enjoyable one and as a location the property – and Ian, Trish and Geordie who run the farm – cannot be recommended highly enough.
Anthony Woodcock, Production Manager