It is a long way from the muddy trenches and tunnels of their World War I film set, but the cast of Beneath Hill 60 shed their uniforms and glammed up for the world premiere of the Australian movie.
A line-up of local talent, including Brendan Cowell, Gyton Grantley, Steve Le Marquand, Bella Heathcote and Harrison Gilbertson, star in the untold true story about a group of Australian miners who tunnelled under enemy lines and changed the course of World War I on the Western Front.
Filmed in north Queensland last year with a budget of about $9.5 million, it was director Jeremy Sims’s job to make 2009 Townsville look like a 1916 European battlefield.
“I was petrified. I really had no idea how I was going to pull it off,” Sims said.
“It’s one of those things in my field of work, you tend to kind of just say yes when people say, ‘can you do that?’ because you don’t get anywhere really if you say no.
“Then you spend the rest of the time working out how you’re going to do it. And this was a doozy.”
At 16, rising star Gilbertson has already worked with Hollywood heavyweights such as Geena Davis and Jennifer Connelly in the upcoming films Accidents Happen and What’s Wrong With Virginia.
But the Adelaide teen said walking the red carpet at the world premiere in Sydney on Thursday night was a new experience for him.
“I’ve done a lot of film festival carpets but I’ve never done a gala one. I don’t really know what to expect,” he said.
Heathcote plays 16-year-old Queensland farm girl Marjorie, who falls in love with Cowell’s character before he heads off to war.
As one of the few females among the cast, Heathcote got to avoid the mud and battlefields, showing off a range of beautiful lace dresses from the early 20th century.
“They were all authentic from London and places like Portobello Road, so they were like 100-year-old dresses. Amazing,” said Heathcote, dressed in vintage Arabella Ramsay.
Beneath Hill 60 opens nationally on April 15.