We had a media screening for Beaconsfield a couple of weeks ago. The miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb who's real life experience the film is based on were there and they watched the film for the first time. I can't imagine what it would be like to sit in the comfort of a cinema and watch (a version of) the worst experience of your life playout in front of you.
I was a little nervous, not about the media seeing the film for the first time, but of what Todd and Brant might think. They were the only ones who experienced it all first hand and lived through it, so in the end, it's their opinion I value the most.
I wasn't worried about getting all the rescue procedure and technical details right, but more about how both men go through quite extraordinary and emotional journeys while they are buried alive and many of these details have never been revealed or discussed publicly. Todd and Brant are not 'emotional' guys, Todd in particular is a man of few words and as stoic as they come. So I suspect the idea of your lowesest emotional point broadcast across the country isn't that exciting for either of them. And from past experience if they see or read something that isn't right, they speak up and be rather direct about it.
But thankfully, they really liked what we have made. In fact they were really moved by it. Both Todd and Brant feel we captured the atmosphere and the emotional state of the fourteen long days and nights they spent trapped side by side a kilometre underground in a truthful and realistic way. Brant told me he had no idea how we crammed so much emotion, the highs and lows, the anguish and even laughter into two hours. Todd gave me a firm handshake and said we had '..done good mate'.
Perhaps the nicest compliment I received was from Todd's wife Carolyn. She has never been in the limelight and remained very much out of sight during the whole ordeal but is of course now featured in the film (played beautifully by Michala Banas). I asked Carolyn after the screening that even though "...it's not you on screen or your house, your furniture, your kids, your words etc... but was the film kind of what it was like?" and she said "Thats exactly what what it was like. The whole atmosphere and the feeling is right...'. Good enough for me.
And good enough for the media as well, and I say with a sign of relief. As seen here on Hoaxville, Beaconsfield was a really tough film to make creatively, financially, logistically and physically, so it's nice to feel some love after all the blood, sweat and tears. There was a great feature review in The Australian (above) this weekend and some other nice words have popped up here and there.
Beaconsfield airs on Channel 9, Sunday, April 22nd.
UPDATE : Just saw this A Current Affair story chatting to Todd and Brant after they saw the film...