Shire grants $52k for Esperance film shoot

Photo: Jesinta Burton.
Photo: Jesinta Burton.

The Shire of Esperance Council has voted unanimously to allocate almost $240,000 to community groups and events for the 2019/20 budget.

The biggest winner in this year's community grants funding allocation was Esperance Regional Tourism Incorporated, receiving $52,000 to help fund WA's first World War 1 film - 75 per cent of which is set to be shot in Esperance in June 2020.

The feature-length historical drama, directed by Jordon Prince-Wright, follows lead character Jim Collins as he joins the ANZACs to fight on the western front of The Great War.

The film will feature the battles of Messines Ridge and Polygon Wood, both of which are set to be filmed on farm land 60 kilometres north-west of Esperance.

Following the meeting, the 23-year-old director said the funding was the final big piece of the puzzle and thanked the Shire of Esperance and the community for its support.

"While the project is still slightly under budget, the project is so big that we have to start working now," he said.

"We've been overwhelmed by the generosity and support of people and communities across WA and every little bit adds up.

"This grant will be going back into the community because it's allowing us to host the school programs and appoint contractors for the earthworks on the set.

"This is going to be like stepping back in time."

According to Mr Prince-Wright, the earthworks to build the makeshift trenches will start in December this year before the filming of the battle scenes commences in June of 2020.

"It's weather dependent," he said.

"It's got to be wet, it's got to be cold and it's got to be authentic.

"It's going to be a hard shoot but it's nothing compared to what these guys went through and that's what will keep us going.

"We have the trench maps from the Canberra museum and we'll have the frontline, the reserve lines, everything.

"When you look across, we want it to look just like the Battle of Polygon Wood or the Battle of Messines and we'll have about 200 extras minimum for those scenes.

"It is a lot of pressure but things are moving and we're going to be launching that fundraising campaign early July."

Both the Cannery Arts Centre and Esperance Community Arts were awarded $43,296.00 each to support its arts program and events and the Esperance Tennis Club received $15,000 to replace its boundary fencing.

Esperance Brass Band was awarded $5000 to assist with its operating costs and the Rotary Club of Esperance Bay received the same amount to help fund its 2020 Adventure Camp.

A number of popular community events also received financial support, including the 2020 Condingup Fair, the Grass Patch Yabbie Classic, the Rotary Club of Esperance Bay Esperance Foreshore Festival & Fireworks, the Kids Fun Day Out and the 2019/20 Moving Movies Season.

Shire president Victoria Brown moved a motion to allocate the funding and said she was pleased council was able to increase its allocation to the arts.

"This is a fantastic outcome," she said.

"What a huge investment into the very community groups and organisations that make our community such a great place to live.

"I would also like to thank councillors and shire staff for their support for this program.

"Shire staff provide great assistance to those submitting applications in what can sometimes be a difficult process.

"I am very pleased that we have been able to up our allocation to the arts, strike a great balance and acknowledge the work of both of our fabulous arts organisations and their role in our community.

"I look forward to seeing what they use their application funding for.

"[The film] was something council saw as well worth supporting, with opportunities for both tourism and the local economy as well as for community involvement."

The motion was seconded by councillor Dale Piercey.

"A community that supports its community groups and sporting clubs is a healthy community," councillor Piercey said.

"I would like to take this opportunity to commend council for looking after the community."

The motion was carried 7-0.

The outcome was met with positive feedback from members of the gallery, who extended thanks to council for their support.