The ABC has commissioned a television documentary adaptation of Dr Tony Moore’s 2010 history Death or Liberty: rebels and radicals transported to Australia. The documentary is produced by innovative Tasmanian-based Roar Films, in association with leading Irish production house Tile Films.
Producer Stephen Thomas says ”Based on Tony Moore’s book, Death or Liberty will be a dynamic telling of history melding drama, music and song, landscape and voice. Spoken word testimony is sourced from original letters, poems, documents, newspapers, memoirs, trial transcripts and orders of the governors and Crown”. Roar has a strong background in Australian convict history and collaboration with academics having produced the Founders and Survivors Storylines, a large-scale interactive online documentary.
Tile has produced many landmark history documentaries including Cromwell in Ireland and In the Name of the Republic. The documentary’s Executive Producer is the award winning filmmaker Anna Grieve, whose credits include I, Spry and Who Killed Dr Bogle and Mrs Chandler? was a commissioning editor at Film Australia.
In commissioning the documentary the ABC was attracted to the filmmakers innovative emphasis on the media of protest, especially the stirring music created in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to rally and inspire radical and reform movements and to commemorate those who were martyred through transportation. To help re-imagine this soundtrack of resistance for 21st century audiences, especially the young, singer songwriters Billy Bragg (UK), Mick Thomas (Australia) and Damian Dempsey (Ireland) have been engaged as musical directors on the project.
Dr Moore is a senior lecturer in Communications and Media Studies the National Centre for Australian Studies, and will next year be part of the new School of Media, Film and Journalism. Drawing on the book and new research, Dr Moore will be working with the producers on the documentary script, beginning this November while he is in the United Kingdom giving a paper on the influence of Tom Paine’s revolutionary democratic ideas on political prisoners transported to Australia.
Tony and Roar are also working towards producing an online archive drawing on the documents, personalities and media of Death or Liberty, and are liaising with specialist museums and archives in Australia and overseas about collaborating in an ARC Linage project to achieve this.
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