Steve Le Marquand
Directed by Alister Grierson
Written by Alister Grierson and John Lonie
Produced by Leesa Kahn and Catriona Hughes
Executive produced by Geoffrey H Levy, Lynda House and Antonio Zeccola
Distributed by Palace Films
National release date: 25 April 2006
Running Time: TBC
New Guinea, 1942.
Australia is at war with Japan.
A small platoon of Australian soldiers from the 39th battalion have been set as a
forward patrol far outside the perimeter of Isurava, a village on the Kokoda track.
After sustained bombardment and initial attacks from the Japanese, the men are
cut off from their supply lines and all communications. Isolated in the jungle behind
enemy lines, they must make their way back through the most unforgiving terrain on
earth to get to safety and the main body of Australian troops. Allegiances form,
strengths and weaknesses emerge, and leadership battles threaten to destroy the
group, as the going gets tougher and tougher.
After three days with no food or sleep, carrying their wounded, and suffering the
effects of dysentery and malaria, they emerge from the jungle exhausted to the point of
collapse. But on learning that Isurava is about to fall they pick themselves up and rejoin
Based on a true story.
Inspired by the Australian fighting spirit.
The Australian Soldiers
Set in Papua New Guinea in 1942, this is the story of a small band of untrained
and inexperienced 'chocolate soldiers', united together by a loyalty and duty to protect
Jack Scholt, 25 (Jack Finsterer)
Darko Moey, 27 (Travis McMahon)
Max Scholt, 23 (Simon Stone)
Burke, 18 (Luke Ford)
Johnno, 19 (Tom Budge)
Bluey, 25 (Christopher Baker)
Dan (Angus Sampson)
How it all started:
Director, Alister Grierson, Producer, Leesa Kahn, Director of Photography, Jules
O'Loughlin, Sound Designer, Adrian Bilinsky, Composer John Gray and Editor, Adrian
Rostirolla all met at the prestigious Australian Film, Television and Radio School and
graduated in 2004. Having worked together on a number of short films whilst training,
and discovering their similar artistic temperaments, prior to graduation they agreed that
they would love to make a feature film together and, more specifically, as Leesa recalls
"a project that could be commercial and achievable with the budgets that you get to
shoot within Australia (as a first feature) and we spoke about making sure the first
feature was the right story".
Sounds simple enough, but in an industry that is notorious for taking at least 3 or
4 years to get an original feature film script up for a team of experienced players, the
fact that "Kokoda" was written, financed, shot and distributed in less than 2 years is all
the more remarkable.
Alister first became inspired by the story of Kokoda after his brother came back
from walking the track and was astounded by the enormity of the history there and that
it was still a predominately untold story from World War 2. He began researching what
he found to be an epic story of the struggle of the unsung heroes of the 'chocolate
soldiers'. What became obvious very quickly was that it would be impossible to tell the
whole story so he began thinking about a way "to collapse it down into something more
accessible in 90 minutes, so we came up with a lost patrol concept/genre. We worked it
out in treatment form, wrote the story for the lost patrol and gathered all the ideas
together, then we approached John Lonie to write the first draft'.
John was very keen on the idea of the project, especially as he had a personal
attachment through his Grandfather who fought in New Guinea. John quickly came back
with a first draft which he supplied to Alister "it was fantastic and had a lot of the
characters in there. In fact, it had too many characters so we had to reduce it down, I
then came and wrote the second draft based on that. John was very character focussed
and his research was impeccable, he had a lot of really good ideas that I was then able
to come in and be in the luxurious position of being able to work it in to more of a genre
structure, fuse several of the characters into one and to build on it from there. Then we
bounced it back off one another, John did the 3rd draft, then I did 4th draft and we had a
Whilst John and Alister were working on finetuning the script, Leesa met with
Catriona Hughes' production company, GFN Productions, and supplied Catriona with a
director's statement of Alister's vision for the film. Leesa explained that the script was
unfinished and she didn't want to supply that until it was ready. Catriona, however,
needed no more encouragement "I'll never forget. I was salivating with excitement
because it was a director with a great vision, a high concept, the project was do-able
and full of creativity.
I hadn't seen 'Bomb' (their film that won best comedy award at Sony Tropfest
2005) or any of their other work at that point so it was just the director's statement. Then
we had this incredible conversation about aiming to get the film released by ANZAC day
2006 and once that decision was made it set a whole series of timetables in place and
we had to do a lot of financing very quickly and we had to go the funding bodies very
quickly and had to cast very quickly."
The final script was based on events that happened just prior to the battle of
Isurava where one of several standing patrols who were positioned about an hour
outside of Isurava got cut off from the main patrols when the battle began. As Alister
explains "it's the nature of the terrain that's a constant theme of the battles in New
Guinea, individuals and groups getting cut off from supply lines all the time. So this
patrol was cut off, not lost, and had to fight their way back over three or four days. In
fact it was more than a patrol, it was about 60 men in the jungle fighting to get back to
Isurava. When that group finally did get back to Isurava, they heard that the battle was
going badly for the 39th battalion so even though they hadn't eaten or slept for three or
four days and all of them had dysentery or malaria to some degree or another, they
joined a parade of sick and wounded and made their way back to join the battle
because they thought that was what the 39th Battalion expected of them and the stakes
were so high. That's a true story and that's what blew us away because we thought
there's something really powerful in that, that captures the essence of the Kokoda
experience, of course not having the resources to tell a massive story of about 30 or 40
guys we reduced it down to a unit of about 10 men who operate as this patrol."
Having taken the unusual step of deciding on a 25th April 2006 release date the
financing timetable was set and it was imperative to get moving on securing the funding
straight away. Catriona thought their first port of call should be the Australian Film
Commission as they were aiming for a low budget movie but due to the AFC calendar of
financing rounds the only option was to go through the Film Financing Corporation
Marketplace door which provided 45% of the total budget. To raise the rest of the funds
Executive producer, Geoffrey Levy, a principal of GFN Films, drove into action a private
sector campaign and Catriona and Leesa went to meet director of the independent film
company, Palace, Antonio Zeccola. Catriona found the response to the idea
overwhelming and they finally secured "$1.405 million in private equity which is a
considerable amount of money for a first time director. It was absolutely spearheaded
by Geoffrey and it had this fantastic kind of concept, I mean people literally have fallen
over themselves at the notion of a Kokoda film being released on ANZAC day. It's very
clear what the intentions of the film are, it's not in any way esoteric to those who may
not read a lot of scripts and they all just really dug the idea and they loved what we were
trying to do. They loved the idea of having the graduates of 2004, this fantastic,
enthusiastic team from film school and they loved the idea of QLD and the fantastic
locations in Mt Tambourine. Projects like this don't happen all the time, it's been a
wonderful experience to be involved in."
In addition to the private sector funding, Palace was very keen to come on board
as the distribution company and confirmed approval of that release date. Once this was
all secure the team had just a 6 week turnaround to organise cast and crew for the
production. The FFC confirmed their commitment on the 5th August and on the 6th
August, Alister, Adrian and Jules all jumped on a plane, armed with sound recording
equipment and headed to Papua New Guinea for inspiration.
Alister was aware that trying to make the film on location would have been
impossible because the terrain is so unmanageable with steep rocky inclines and
incredibly dense jungle but it is also quite alien with regards to the sounds, the light and
the mood "It was really important for me to get the cinematographer, Jules O'Loughlin,
there to see the light, to see the conditions, to start to develop his own idea of a palette
that we could work with and the same for the sound designer, to listen to the place, to
get a sense of it so that they could imbue the project with that. I think those 2 are the
most important for doing that, I would have loved to have had my composer up there
because we were able to meet some New Guinean musicians and did some basic
sound recording of singing and percussion, and I think it would have been a fantastic
influence for John but financially it was impossible, so next time, but that was great
exercise to get the team motivated"
As a start to the research Jules found it vitally important that he could get a feel
for Kokoda and took away from the experience plenty of tools and ideas that would
bring authenticity to the film. While there he wanted to learn a little about "how it felt
under the conditions which these guys fought in and also to go there to get a feel for the
light, what it's like under the canopy, what the jungle canopy is like in New Guinea and
the kind of light that permeates the canopy in different kind of conditions, what it's like
when it becomes misty, what it's like at night, when it rains, all the different kind of
atmospheric conditions that effect the play of light in the jungle."
In addition to the New Guinea trip Jules also studied the accounts of campaigns
by historians, particularly Peter Brune and archival photos and descriptions of the war
from survivors. "There are a lot of accounts of servicemen who describe the conditions
and the environment in which they fought. The environment played such a huge part in
their experience. It was so hostile - the descriptions of how it felt at night, the intensity of
the rain, the frequency and overpowering presence of the jungle mist, the energy
sapping humidity - that served as the starting point of how we were going to treat the
film. In addition, I looked at the films of Damien Parer and the photographs of George
Silk which gave us a real vision and an impression, a very realistic one, of what
conditions were like there. Then from there we branched out and looked at a lot of films
and got hold of a book called Images of War, which is a collection of WW2 paintings
and that was a big influence on the look of the film."
One of Alister's major concerns was where, if not New Guinea, could they film
that would allow them to recreate effectively the landscape? No one wanted to make a
film that could not capture the essence of what these brave men did so it was fortuitus
that their Production Designer, Nick McCallum, was working on 'Answered By Fire'
(which is 'set' in East Timor) at the time. Nick was incredibly keen to be involved in the
project, having read the script and he already knew of some great locations to introduce
Alister recalls looking at the images that Nick had brought with him to their first
meeting at Brisbane airport on their way back from New Guinea "we looked at the stills
and we were just blown away as we thought 'wow that looks just like where we have just
been' and he said 'well, that's in the hinterland of the Gold Coast', so after the meeting
we organised another visit to Queensland for a recce. Nick drove straight to these
locations and it was astonishing that these tiny pockets of rain forest that exist in the
hinterland. It was this strange experience of driving in right past someone's house and
you think 'I can't make a movie here, there's a house and cows and dams just round the
corner there' but it occurred to me that once you have contained the frame, you've got
some incredible flexibility. We were able to find abut 10 different locations all within a
small radius of each other that clearly represented New Guinea and that was just an
The locations had magically fallen into place very quickly and Nick McCallum not
only bought his own wealth of experience, he also brought with him a very experienced
Queensland crew that he had worked with previously.
As a film written for a large ensemble cast it was also going to be of huge
importance to secure a strong and talented cast of young men. For this they contacted
respected casting director Nikki Barrett who also thought the script was impressive and
who, before the funding was definitely in place, "voluntarily undertook to do the research
and read the texts that Alister recommended so when the film got green lit and we were
on the radar we got an enormous response from all the agents because it's every young
male's fantasy to participate in a film like this. Nikki was really fabulous, Alister went in
with a brief, and she presented accordingly and basically had cast the film in 3 weeks.
We did cast the net wide - we didn't just focus on Sydney, we went around Australia."
Having such a wide pool of great actors to cast from was a joy for Alister. Each of
the roles was written with specific characteristics and he wanted actors that naturally
had some of the qualities of the soldiers, especially knowing how gruelling, both
physically and emotionally, the parts were going to be. "Casting it was a challenge
because once the script was out there every young male actor in the country wanted to
be in the film. It was exciting to have access to that sort of calibre of actor and to
generate that level of excitement. Difficult because, with an ensemble of 10, we had to
see several hundred people to reduce that down. We hadn't written it with anyone in
mind and we were open to who would come along. We had so many kinds of wonderful
accents, some people just leapt out straight away as the characters and we didn't have
to look any further; some of the roles were difficult to cast because of the complexities
of the characters. The Jack character, is kind of the main character and a difficult role to
cast because he is very complex. Trying to find someone who would capture all the
elements that we needed was really difficult but in the end, though a kind of
synchronicity, I think we got the perfect guy in the county to play that character because
so many of the qualities of the character are in him as a man."
That man was Jack Finsterer (Strange Fits of Passion) who felt a natural affinity
to the character of Jack Scholt for a number of reasons. "Mainly there's the place of
Kokoda in the Australian story and what those men did up there. On my mother's side of
the family (Irish/Australian) we had relatives who fought up there. She tells stories of
when she was growing up in the war in Sydney and men from Kokoda, friends of
cousins or whatever, would come and stay when they were on leave so it had a very
significant resonance for me on that level and then to see this terrific script, well it's just
amazing. Then from an obvious side, I play the character of Jack who is half German
and my name is Jack and I'm half German."
As the casting went on Alister was becoming more comfortable about having the
right actors to play these men. "One of the things we discovered, with the Bourke
character for example, Luke (Ford) who plays that role, just was that character, and
that's one of those weird experiences when you are making a film when you just think 'is
that guy acting?' and you can never quite work it out. So that was really a blessing to
have a wonderful ensemble of actors who are so committed to the project as soon as
they started to do the research and started to meet the diggers and historians and get
embedded in the material that the level of emotion commitment from them was really
profound and they really quite fell in love with the project and that kind of love
transposes itself onto the screen."
The final core cast of 10 soldiers - Jack Finsterer, Travis McMahon, Simon
Stone, Luke Ford, Tom Budge, Steve Le Marquand, Angus Sampson, Christopher
Baker, Ewen Leslie, Ben Barrack, Shane Bourne and William McInnes - are
experienced actors or those just out of drama school but every one of them was thrilled
to be attached to such an exciting although daunting project.
As Travis, who plays the antagonistic Darko, put it, "I was attracted to this film on
levels you can't really explain and that doesn't happen very often. It's actually quite
confronting when you read something on a really deep level that you not only want to be
in, but need to be in; some way of expressing yourself that you don't understand. When
I read the script I was very moved and very passionate about it immediately. You know
you are on to something in regards to a script when you don't really need to learn your
lines they are just there. For me, my grandfather was in New Guinea. He wasn't in the
39th, but he was in the independent battalion in New Guinea and he didn't talk about it a
lot so I think there was some sort of need to express myself on that level".
Prior to filming, the actors had a two week rehearsal period, having already been
on a diet and reading and looking at photos and footage from WW2 so that they could
immerse themselves in the theory of what had happened to these men. The actual
rehearsal period was very intense as they fought their way into character and the
unfamiliar headspace of 1942 and being at war.
They were taken away for 3 days by some SAS officers and given an introduction
to the art of rifle practise and patrolling on boot camp. Simon Stone, who plays one of
the youngest of the group, Max Scholt found "the boot camp was a purely physical
experience. Understanding what one's body goes through in gruelling circumstances,
and the boot camp wasn't particularly gruelling, but just having to keep your mind on the
job constantly and having to work in the group, realising your place in the group is as
important as anyone else's. For me it was about finding out what it was like to be in that
group of soldiers. It wasn't so much character development, but I think a character
evolves from their circumstances as much from their mental state."
Luke Ford, who plays Darko's sidekick Burke, recalls "I really enjoyed the boot
camp. I felt we really developed a relationship amongst the boys and the fact that we
are doing war tactics and battle tactics, a strong bond developed. Boot camp was
probably the start of the development process for me."
In addition to the regular scene rehearsals and costume fitting and character
discussions of the rehearsal period, the actors also had the opportunity to meet some
members of the original 39th battalion. This was probably one of the most important
meetings in terms of bringing home to the young actors living in a modern world exactly
what these men went through, how it affected them and therefore the honesty and
commitment that they needed to bring to their characters in order to respect their
Jack understood when "to hear a quiver in their voice and see them remember it
and for a spilt second to just go back to where they were, that was pretty special. Their
wives... I'm assuming this, they had such dignity and they'd sit there just looking at their
husbands and seeing the trauma that they had gone through. So it was really a great
honour and I think it reinforced for the whole group, not just the actors, how special a
story this is. Not that we are making a documentary; we are making a film, but in that
you want to honour as best you can with everything you've got, those men."
What Travis found hardest to come to terms with was the feeling that they had
been let down by their country and yet still found a way to accept what they had gone
through "They weren't the AIF, the government's army, they were just part time soldiers.
They were supposed to be no good. That is what is so exciting about bringing the story
to the screen, bringing the story of the 39th to the people. Bringing the focus onto the
2nd world war in a conflict that was very close to home and very real for the Australian
people. There were 80,000 troops, Australian infantry troops, serving in Europe and
North Africa at the time. They didn't even have squadron fighters for most of the
campaign up there, just bombs and stuff. But these boys did what they had to do."
The film had to be shot in a total of 28 days so the filmmakers decided early on
they couldn't afford to stop for wet weather. Rain or shine, through mud and mist, all of
the crew and the cast persisted as best they could, filming in some terrible conditions,
but for most this was blessing in disguise. Simon explains "The Kokoda trail is known as
one of the most difficult terrains for warfare in the history of mankind and it wouldn't be
right to make a film on a location that wasn't equally as difficult or almost as difficult. So
we did have incredibly tough times. We've been on the side of hills where people are
falling over and almost falling off the sides of cliffs and the camera man is holding an
incredible weight on his shoulders, both literally and metaphorically, and about to fall off
the hill and he's harnessed and we're all trying to look as if we've been on this terrain for
a while and we are used to it and we've only been on it for half an hour. We were in the
middle of jungles where you see red belly black snakes just slither past and funnel web
spiders attacking members of the crew and people having to deal with circumstances
like that while we are trying to get into the line of the film. It's certainly not stress less
filmmaking and that can take its toll on you. I would get home at the end of the day and
have half a bottle of wine and I'm unconscious then wake up at quarter to four in the
morning and start again, but I think if you want to get into the Kokoda spirit that's
probably the best way to do it."
For cinematographer, Jules, it was a particularly difficult shoot because the whole
film was shot on handheld camera to give the impression of the audience going with the
film as if they were an unseen soldier. "We wanted a real sense of immediacy with our
characters and to that end we decided to shoot the film hand held. The physical
challenge of having to hold a handheld camera and move around with the actors when
some of the places we were shooting was really difficult, on very steep slopes, at times
on rocky terrain and moving throughout the jungle. It caused its own difficulties, not
quite knowing where you were going to step at any time. The other element of
handholding was a time consideration as we had to shoot the film really quickly and we
knew that we'd be able to work a lot faster if we weren't using tracks, dollies, cranes and
the like. If the camera was on the shoulder we could just get in there and shoot these
guys; be in there with them."
With little pre-production time it was fortunate that Phill Eagles, the costume
designer, had worked on plenty of war films before including Thin Red Line, and whilst
he wanted to make sure that the costumes looked as authentic to the time as possible,
there were a few problems with that. "From my point of view, it's now 60 years later, you
can't get the costumes. The main issue is our diet and our lifestyle has changed
dramatically since then and people are now bigger and taller so metaphysically our
bodies have changed dramatically. Even if you can get clothing from the period, for
example, a large man's shirt in 1930/40s wouldn't fit a small man here now our sizes
have changed so much. So I had to source some fabrics without actually having it
woven and have it all made because our cast is present day bodies. For each of our
characters, ten initially, they needed at least half a dozen shirts and shorts for
themselves and stunt people, so that we could rig them for bullet hits. We had to have
the clothing made up and then have it broken down and then maintain that breakdown
through the duration of the filming. The primary concern for Alister was to take everyone
to an environment where they would be able to work to the best of their ability and then
"I realised that filmmaking for me is trying to provide those conditions for all of
your crafts people and just to kind of get out of the way. When you've got great
cinematographers like Jules, great composers, sound designers, fantastic actors, great
production designers, what can you do? Just give them the environments, give them the
materials, tell them 'this is what we want to do' and try and steer a steady path."
Seemingly this course of action worked because by the end of a punishing shoot
the actors were full of admiration for Alister and the film that he had created. As Jack
said, "Alister has a very strong idea of the film in his head, but he's also really open to
whatever you bring. Jules, the cinematographer, Bliss, the makeup artist, all the other
actors, he was really, really open to all of their suggestions and he married whatever
you came along with. After a while it just became seamless. I feel like I could trust him
100% and I had to because I became so vulnerable and caught up in the role that at
times was so aggressive or so emotional I just had to look to Al for a bit of short hand.
Alister was terrific he handled all those incredibly sensitive scenes very well and he
says 'you're the actor, just do your actor thing' but he was tremendous, he really was."
Throughout the punishing schedule of the shoot there was one thing that
encapsulated it for Leesa, and that was the dedication of the extras. "We didn't go in
with any false pretences or illusions about how it would be and we told all the crew
before they came on board 'it's going to be really tough, it's a handheld shoot, you are
working in mud'. We were filming in torrential rain, mud that you could barely stand up in
on vertical slopes, but the thing that we were astonished by was that our extras kept
coming back. Being an extra in a movie is probably one of the worst jobs you can have
and the reason one of them gave me is that they kept thinking about the diggers and
what they went through to fight a war in those conditions. Our extras could go and have
a hot meal and go home and have a shower at the end of the day and that's what
inspired them and motivated them to keep coming back, because every day we'd have
another big extras day we used to count them off a list and we were astonished that
they'd all returned and that's what it was all about. It was constantly reminding yourself
as to why we're making this movie."
A motto from a memorial at Kokoda summed up the film for Alister and, he
hopes, the film will allow people to develop a greater understanding of the story of
Kokoda. "There's four pillars at Isurava and each pillar has a single word and those
words are courage, mateship, endurance and sacrifice and that encapsulates the
experiences of Kokoda and that's what we really wanted to focus on. The other things
that aren't mentioned are the things that you have to battle through as humans when
you are there, like fear and hope and terror and excitement. That's why we tried to write
a story based around trying to explore all of those things and give each character a
moment to have one or two or three of those moments, so that in the ensemble, the
viewer gets the chance to experience all of those moments through the film."
Jack Finsterer - Jack
Graduating from the Victorian College for Arts in 1992, Jack has continued to
prove his versatility as one of Australia's upcoming leading actors in Film, TV and
Jack's screen credits include roles in the AFI nominated films Strange Fits of
Passion and Preservation, in which he starred opposite Jacqueline McKenzie, to much
loved and popular Australian TV series including All Saints, Jessica, McLeod's
Daughters, Love is a 4 Letter Word, Stingers, Blue Heelers, The Man From Snowy
River and Neighbours.
He has also appeared in a diverse range of theatre roles. From Shakespeare
classics such as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus and Coriolanus directed
by Stephen Berkoff for the Bell Shakespeare Company. He has played the sadistic Jean
in Miss Julie for the Perth Theatre Company to the simple Christian in Cyrano De
Bergerac for Sydney Theatre Company and, most recently, starred in Louis Nowra's
hugely successful the Woman With Dog's Eyes at the Griffin Theatre, Sydney.
Travis McMahon - Darko
Travis studied Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong before going to
NIDA where he completed his course in 1995. Since graduating Travis has starred in
the Australian film Dope and has been seen on a number of Australian television
dramas including Last Man Standing, All Saints, Stingers and Blue Heelers, as well as
playing Steve in the critically acclaimed miniseries Changi.
Travis has vast theatre experience touring both internationally and around
Australia in the role of Ted Pickles in Tim Winton's Cloudstreet. Travis has also worked
with the MTC (Melbourne Theatre Company) and STC (Sydney Theatre Company) on
their productions of Away, Romeo and Juliet, Rupture and Kid Stakes.
Simon Stone - Max
Since completing a 3 year drama course at the VCA in 2005, Simon has landed
roles in two eagerly anticipated Australian films, Kokoda and Ray Lawrence's
Jindabyne, both of which will be released in 2006.
Simon's television credits include Blue Heelers and MDA. He has also starred in
a number of VCA theatre productions including The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters,
Midsummer Night's Dream and The Caucasian Chalk Circle.
Tom Budge - Johnno
Since his electrifying performance as Pickles in Paul Goldman's 2002 film
Australian Rules, Tom Budge has gone on to appear in a number of films including Nic
Cave's critically acclaimed feature The Proposition, Three Dollars, The Honourable
Wally Norman and Take Away. In 2006, Tom will be seen on screens in Neil Armfield's
Candy and Jeremy Sims' Long Way To Freo.
Tom worked with Neil Armfield on the Belvoir Street Theatre Company's
production of The Lieutenant Of Innishmore in his debut theatre role.
Tom's television credits include The Glenmoore Job, Welcher & Welcher and
regular appearances on TV1's Shock Jock.
Luke Ford - Burke
Luke Ford has featured in a number of Australian dramas since he began his
acting career. He first had a role in Breakers and then went to work on Water Rats,
Home and Away, Stingers, McLeod's Daughters and All Saints. Luke was in the 2004
NBC production of Hercules and is currently on screen for Channel 7's latest series,
Luke has worked with the Pulse theatre group on productions of True West, This
is our Youth and played the part of Ross Williamson in Glen Garry Glen Ross.
Kokoda is Luke's first film role.
Angus Samson - Dan
Angus Sampson started his career as one of the hosts of the cult ABC TV series
Recovery in 1996. He has subsequently appeared on a number of Australian television
programs including Blue Heelers, Stingers, Greeks on the Roof and Secret Life of Us.
Angus has also established himself as a well know radio host having worked on
Triple R since 1998. Angus is the weekly presenter of Triple R's Breakfasters and has
also done voiceovers for a number of commercials on TV, radio and animations.
In 2006, Angus will appear as the lead in Khoa Do's feature film Footy Legends
and he has recently appeared in the Australian comedies You and Your Stupid Mate
and Fat Pizza.
Angus' stage work includes roles in Playing the Victim by the Presnyakov
Brothers, Happy New by Brendan Cowell and Mojo by Jez Butterworth. Angus was also
the winner of Celebrity Theatresports at the Melbourne Comedy Festival in 2003.
Christopher Baker - Bluey
Christopher has been performing on screen and stage for more than 8 years
since he graduated from the Actors College of theatre and television in 1998.
His film credits include Kangaroo Jack, Ned Kelly and the eagerly anticipated
The Great Raid. His small screen credits include Ike -Thunder in June, which was
nominated for 6 Emmy Awards in 2004, the Road to Coorain, All Saints, Hell Has
Harbour Views and Changi.
His theatre credits include The Fire Raisers, Don't Stare too much, Iphigeniaat
Auus and Othello, as well as acting Christopher started his own theatre group, Urban
Tales theatre Company, where he has been producing and directing plays since 2000.
Ewen Leslie - Wilstead
Ewen began his career at 12, acting in a number of different children's television
shows. He was then accepted into the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts
(WAAPA) in 2000, at the age of 17.
Ewen was most recently nominated for an AFI Award for Outstanding
Achievement in Craft in a non-feature for his work in the Cannes selected Jewboy. He
has also featured in films including The Mechanicals, Soul and Doppelgangers.
Television credits include Love My Way (series 2), The Junction Boys, All Saints
and The Road from Coorain. Ewen's theatre work includes Cross Sections, This Blasted
Earth and Votive Offerings.
Ben Barrack - Pike
Ben Barrack's first role in a feature was in Ivan Sen's 2001 film Beneath Clouds.
Since then, Ben has gone on to play the lead role in 3 AFTRS films.
Ben's television work includes Neighbours, Stingers, CNNNN and All Saints.
In 2004 Ben had the lead role in the Ohio Theatre (NY) production of Men and
has also played the lead role in both The Storeroom and Tap Gallery's production of
Tape. Other theatre credits include Between the Sea Bed and The Sky, Woomera and
the Dole Diary. In 1999 Ben played the leads in UK productions of The Last Fleet, The
Grass, One Act Play and Twelfth Night.
Steve Le Marquand - Uncle Sam
Steve, who has a BA (Performing Arts) from UWS Nepean, has appeared in a
number of seminal Australian films including Mullet, Two Hands and The Sum Of Us
and will appear in the upcoming Long Way to Freo.
Steve's stage work includes The Spook, Buried Child and Waiting For Godot for
Company B Belvoir, plus shows for the Sydney Theatre Company (Holy Day) and Griffin
(The Return, Songket). He also co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in the hugely
successful theatre show He Died With A Felafel In His Hand.
Television credits include All Saints, Farscape, Crash Palace, Young Lions, Blue
Heelers, Wildside, Murder Call and Water Rats,
William McInnes -The Colonel
Since graduating from WAAPA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts)
in 1998, William McInnes has become one of the most respected film, television and
theatrical actors in the country.
William has won and been nominated for a swag of Awards for his performances
across both film and television. For his work in Blue Heelers, Sea Change, My Brother
Jack and The Shark Net, William has been nominated for a total of 5 Logies and has
In 2001, William received an AFI nomination for Best Actor in a leading role in a
TV drama for Seachange, as well as nomination for Best Actor is a Miniseries for My
Brother Jack. In 2005, William's work in the internationally critically acclaimed film Look
Both Ways earned him an AFI nomination for Best Lead Actor.
William will be seen in the upcoming feature Irresistible, starring alongside Susan
Sarandon, Sam Neill and Georgie Parker. Other feature credits include Look Both
Ways, You and Your Stupid Mate, Dirty Deeds, Drover's Boy, The Heartbreak Kid and
Television credits include Blue Heelers, Crashburn, The Shark Net, Halifax fp,
My Brother Jack and a guest role in Kath and Kim.
William has worked on a number of Melbourne Theatre Company and Sydney
Theatre Company productions including Blithe Spirit, Don Juan, Art, Pride and
Prejudice, The Crucible and Private Lives.
Shane Bourne -The Doctor
Kokoda marks Shane Bourne's first foray into feature films. Shane has had a
long career in television having worked on iconic programs such as The Sullivans, Cop
Shop, The Flying Doctors, Blue Heelers and most recently, MDA.
For his role as Bill Henderson in the ABC drama MDA, Shane has been
nominated for an AFI for Best Actor in a Leading Role in Television in 2002. In 2003, he
was nominated for a Logie for Most Outstanding Actor and in 2003 he won Best Actor in
a Leading Role in a Television Drama. In 2005, he won the AFI Best Lead Actor in
Television and AFI Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Television Drama or Comedy
Shane has been involved in a number of Melbourne Theatre productions from
1986 until the most recent production of Hitchcock Blonde in 2005. MTC productions
include Urinetown, Twelfth Night, The Three Musketeers, Some Night at Julie Creek
and Hurly Burly, for which he was nominated for a Green Room Award in 1996. Shane
was also in Belvoir St's production of Steve Martin's Picasso as the Lapin Agile as well
as Harry Miller's 1978 production of the Rocky Horror Show.
Catriona Hughes - Producer
Catriona was Chief Executive Officer of the Film Finance Corporation from 1997
until 2002. Catriona started at the FFC in 1998 and prior to becoming CEO, her roles
included Investment/Senior Investment Manager and Business Affairs Manager.
In 2003, Catriona was appointed as director to Australian Children's Television
In 2005, Catriona Hughes set up GFN Productions with Geoffrey Levy. Kokoda is
the first feature to be produced by the newly formed company and there are a number
of films currently in development.
Leesa Kahn - Producer
Leesa Kahn completed her Producing degree at the Australian Film Television
and Radio School in 2003, graduating in 2004.
Since 2003, Leesa has produced a number of corporate videos, short films and
commercials as well as a music video for the Hoodoo Gurus. Leesa's short film Car
Park, screened at Brisbane international Film Festival, the International Short Film
Festival Berlin, Mill Valley (San Francisco), Rotterdam International Short Film Awards
and St Kilda Film Festival.
Leesa has also previously worked with Kokoda director, Alister Grierson, on the
award winning Tropfest short, Bomb as well as the 2003 short film Burning Ambition,
which screened at the Mill Valley Film Festival (San Francisco). In 2003, Leesa also
worked with Alister on Flight, which was a finalist in the Australian Effects and
Animation Festival and screened at the 2005 St Kilda Film Festival.
Geoffrey Levy AO - Executive Producer
Geoffrey was Chairman of the FFC board from 1999-2003 and has also served
on the board of Hoyts Cinemas. He is a director on the board of Ten Network, STW
Communications Group Limited (the parent company of Singleton Ogilvy and Mather)
and Mirvac Group Limited.
Geoffrey is currently the Executive Chairman of Investec Bank (Australia) Limited
and a Director of Investec Wentworth Pty Limited, corporate advisers and investment
bankers to a number of leading Australian and International companies.
Geoffrey was awarded an Officer in the Order of Australia in the Queen's
Birthday Honours List in June 2005 for service to the community through support for
and philanthropic contributions to a broad range of arts, sporting and charitable
Lynda House - Executive Producer
Lynda began her producing career as Associate Producer on the classic 1990
film Death in Brunswick. Following the success of the film, Lynda went on to produce
Jocelyn Moorhouse's Proof, starring Russell Crowe and Hugo Weaving. The film went
on to win Best Film at the AFI Award's in 1990 and was opening night film at the
prestigious Director's Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival.
In 1993, Lynda collaborated again with Jocelyn Moorhouse to produce the iconic
Australian film Muriel's Wedding. Directed by PJ Hogan, the film launched the careers of
Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths and won a swag of Awards at the 1994 AFI's including
Best Film, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Sound. Lynda and Jocelyn
once again headed to the Cannes Film Festival for a screening at the Director's
In 1995, Lynda produced River Street, starring Aden Young, who was nominated
for an AFI for Best Actor. The film was screened at film festivals internationally and
abroad, including the London Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival and Montreal Film
1997 saw Lynda producing Manuela Alberti's The Missing and in 1999 Lynda
produced the dramatized documentary, Pozieres, starring Helen Mores and David
Ngoombujarra. Wain Fimeri garnered an AFI nomination for Best Director and the film
won First Place at the Gold Camera Award for Best Documentary. It also screened at
the US International Film and Video Festival, and was short-listed for Director's
Fortnight at Cannes Film Festival in 2000.
Establishing herself as one of Australia's most well respected producers, Lynda
produced Invincible starring US actor Billy Zane and in 2002 produced the multi-Award
winning telemovie Secret Bridesmaid's Business starring Helen Dallimore, Sacha Horler
and Rebecca Frith. In 2002, it was nominated for Best Telemovie, for 2 Best Supporting
Actress roles as well as Logie Nominations in 2003 for Best Telemovie. Secret
Bridesmaid's Business screened at festivals around the world.
In 2002/3, Lynda produced Gregor Jordan's Ned Kelly, starring Heath Ledger,
Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush and Naomi Watts. The film spent 2 weeks at #1 at the
Australian box office.
Antonio Zeccola - Executive Producer
Antonio Zeccola is the Managing Director of Palace Films and Palace Cinemas
with a 40-year history of distributing quality local and international titles in Australia and
New Zealand. He has received credit as Executive Producer for Paul Goldman's
Australian Rules and again for Rolf de Heer's Alexandra's Project which was officially
selected for screening at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2003 where it was
nominated for a Golden Bear.
Antonio has a strong commitment to the Australian film industry and has invested
in three of the country's most highly anticipated upcoming films: The Book of Revelation,
Ana Kokkinos' follow-up to past Palace Films success Head On; Irresistible, starring
Susan Sarandon and Sam Neil; and Macbeth in which the director of Romper Stomper
brings Shakespeare's Macbeth to gangland Melbourne.
Palace Cinemas is Antonio's exhibition division with 73 screens across 21
locations in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth making it Australia's only
national group of cinemas dedicated to the presentation of quality film.
The Italian Government has awarded Antonio Zeccola the title of "Cavaliere" in
recognition of his active involvement in the spread of Italian Cinema culture in Australia.
He is also a Commissioner on the board of the Australian Film Commission.
Alister Grierson - Director
Alister graduated with a Master of Arts in Directing from the Australian Film
Television and Radio School in 2004. Prior to completing his Maters degree, Alister
completed a Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Arts from the Australian National
University in 1994. He also attended an intermediate Japanese course at the
Takushoku University in Tokyo in 1995 and is fluent in Japanese.
In 2005, Alister directed the highly successful Tropfest film Bomb, which was
awarded Best Comedy and Best Screenplay, as well as winning the People's Choice
Award. His documentary film Behind the Plastic Bubble, which was also produced by
Leesa Kahn, won him the 2003 NSW Community Relations Commission Award. Leesa
worked with Alister on his 2003 short film Flight, which was a finalist at the Australian
Effects and Animation Festival and the film screened at the 2005 St Kilda Film Festival.
Kokoda is Alister's first feature film.
John Lonie - Writer
John Lonie is currently co-head of Screenwriting at the Australian Film Television
and Radio School. He has worked as script editor for a number of Australian films
including Alison Tilson's feature, Japanese Story and Ivan Sen's Beneath Clouds. John
has most recently worked as script editor for the 2002 FTO Aurora Project, Axefall by
John also writes fiction, his last book being Acts of Love and he has just finished
his latest novel Out of the Night.
A graduate of AFTRS, John also has extensive credits in film and television on
projects such as True Believers, The Paper Man, GP, Police Rescue and A Country
Jules O'Loughlin - Cinematographer
Jules O'Loughlin gave up a career in law and futures trading to pursue his
passion for cinematography. In 2003, Jules completed his Mater of Arts, Film and
Television in Cinematography and has since gone on to shoot music videos, TVCs and
Jules met director Alister Grierson and producer Leesa Kahn at AFTRS and has
filmed a number of their shorts including the Tropfest award winning Bomb, Burning
Ambition, Ashes and Car Park, which screened at festivals including Brisbane
International, International Short Film Festival Berline, Mill Vall (San Francisco) and
Rotterdam international Short Film Festival. His documentaries include Behind the
Plastic Bubble, which was Winner of the Community Relations Commission of NSW
Award in 2003.
Jules has filmed video clips for Alex Lloyd, The Bleed and the Hoodoo Gurus.
Kokoda is his first feature film.
Nick McCallum - Production Designer
Nick McCallum has been nominated for 2 prestigious AFI Awards for Best
Production Design: in 1998 for Bill Bennett's In A Savage Land and again in 2003 for
Gettin' Square. His previous production design and art direction experience includes
Clara Law's Goddess of '76, The Nugget, Fortress, Dead End Drive-In, Sniper, In the
Winter Dark and The Sugar Factory. In 2004 Nick was art director on the American
produced House of Wax.
Nick's television credits include the upcoming Answered by Fire, Small Claims,
The Diamond of Jeru, South Pacific and Bryce Courtenay's: The Potato Factory.
In 2005, Nick worked as set designer on Grease - The Arena Spectacular.
Adrian Rostirolla - Editor
Since completing an MA in Editing at the Australian Film Television and Radio
School, Adrian has worked on a number of short films including the Oscar nominated,
and BAFTA and AFI award winning animation Birthday Boy.
Other short films include Memory, No Sanctuary and Transient, which was
selected for screening at the Berlin Film Festival. In 2005, Adrian edited a 50 minute
drama, Jammin' in the Middle East, which was funded by SBSi, AFC and FTO.
Adrian has worked on a number of music videos for artists including Endorphin,
Skulker and The Church.
Phil Eagles - Costume Designer
Phil began his career as stand by wardrobe on iconic Australian films such as
Gallipoli, The Year of Living Dangerously and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Phil
then went on to work as costume supervisor and wardrobe master on films including
Hurricane Smith, Street Fighter and Tunnel Vision and was the military webbing
supervisor on Terence Malick's 1998 film The Thin Red Line.
Phil's costume designing television credits include Big Reef, Guinevere Jones,
Life and The Magicians. He is currently working on the upcoming Answered by Fire.
John Gray - Composer
John is a screen composing graduate of the Australian Film Television and Radio
School and has been mentored by some of Australia's most outstanding film composers
including Nigel Westlake, Chris Gordon and Martin Armiger.
John has composed for a number of short films and documentaries including
Spooked, Bomb, Beats Across Borders, The Road Home, Ash Wednesday, Teratoma
and The Final Aria.
John is currently composing for Mark Lee's feature film The Bet.