Canberra-based documentary maker WildBear Entertainment has announced the completion of a three-year project to create more than 60 screen pieces for the new Sir John Monash Centre in Villers-Bretonneux, France.
Launched this week, the project tells Australia’s story of the Western Front in the words of those who served. The Centre housing the project is located adjacent to the Australian National Memorial in the grounds of the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery. It was officially opened by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this week.
WildBear Entertainment, whose credits include the new 8 x 60’ series Battles Won and Lost and 13 x 60 The Price of Empire, won a competitive international tender for the project. The development and construction of the Centre was overseen by the Australia’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs. WildBear’s team for the project included film and documentary producers, writers, video game developers, special effects experts, sound designers and composers.
Michael Tear, WildBear Entertainment’s CEO, said: “As factual content producers, our job is to inform, entertain and engage – whether that’s for a one-off TV program or something as unique as the immersive experience we have created at the Sir John Monash Centre. We are so proud to have been involved with this important project that commemorates the sacrifice of those who served and we are delighted that the wide-ranging skills in our business, from painstaking research to high-end dramatic recreations, can be showcased in this way for years to come.”
The Centre features more than two and a half hours of content, telling a range of stories, crafted by WildBear Entertainment, about the First Australian Imperial Force’s time in France and Belgium during World War I.
The stories are told in 4k across huge 2m x 2m screen arrays. With historically accurate full-colour recreations, interwoven with archive material including quotes researched from service records, diaries and personal letters of those who were there, the people and events of the Western Front are dramatically brought to life.
At the heart of the Centre is the Immersive Gallery, a space containing almost 200 screens built into a 360-degree experience.
The Gallery places visitors in two of the key actions of the First AIF: the Battle of Villers-Bretonneux and the great victory of Le Hamel, which brought General Sir John Monash to prominence.
Filmed at a number of locations across Australia and New Zealand, using 6k Red Epic cameras and utilising elements of filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson’s extensive collection of original and reconstructed WW1 machinery and weaponry, the Immersive Gallery provides a visceral and impactful 12-minute experience that will leave viewers with a deep and emotional understanding of the conflict.