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Oscars 2017: Hacksaw Ridge filmed in Australia

Hacksaw Ridge - Gibson and Garfield

Mel Gibson’s true-life war movie Hacksaw Ridge doubled locations in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, for the US and the Japanese island of Okinawa.

The film tells the story of Desmond Doss, a young American who signed up to serve in the Pacific Theatre during the Second World War and became a decorated hero for his actions in battle, despite refusing to carry a weapon because of his devout religious beliefs.

Hacksaw Ridge was nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards.

Gibson and his team used Fox Studios Australia in Sydney as a production base. Nearby New South Wales locations stood in for Doss’ home state of Virginia and also Kentucky, where he received his military training. 

Okinawa battle scenes were largely shot on a set built in the Sydney suburb of Bringelly.

“As with any period film working on location, significant changes needed to be made in nearly all areas,” says Edward Donovan, a location manager on the film, in comments to KFTV. 

Hacksaw Ridge - battle set

“At the exterior locations street signs and poles were removed, light poles clad and footpaths, kerbs and gutters ‘greened’ out to reflect an earlier time," Donovan says. "Streets were cleared of modern cars and traffic management plans implemented to allow for the period ‘traffic’. 

“The exterior of the cinema in Lynchburg, Virginia, was in fact a branch of one of our major banks in Richmond, NSW.

“One of the biggest challenges working on a film this size is managing the needs of each of the departments on location. Even though the end game is the same for everyone, different departments have different priorities on location so keeping everyone working together requires special effort.”

Hacksaw Ridge - GibsonPractical effects were used as much as possible for the battle scenes.

The special effects team even created a new type of fake explosive that produced a more authentic amount of debris than common alternatives and generated a bright flash closely resembling a real battlefield high-explosive.

Australia remains a popular international filming location, with a competitive incentive support programme. Most big-budget movies and TV shows shoot in either New South Wales or Queensland where the country’s main studio facilities are based. International productions spent more than AU$160m in Queensland alone in 2016. 

“Screen NSW provided a financial incentive to the production through its Film and Television Industry Attraction Programme,” says Matt Carroll, director of production, attraction and incentives at Screen NSW, in comments to KFTV. 

“In addition we assisted the production with location searches and permitting locations with the various landholders and provided ongoing location support and advice throughout the production as required.”

Pacific Rim: Uprising and superhero movie Aquaman are set to be among the biggest international films to shoot in Australia over the next year.

Images: Mark Rogers/Cross Creek Pictures


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