Private Project


1850s South Australia. Two men meet for the first time. One has a proposition, both have ambition. They strike a deal to journey into the outback in search of riches. Dependent on one another for survival, they are pushed to their limits by the unforgiving landscape. Miles from civilization, they come face to face with an eternal threat – the true nature of man.
Ambergris is a psychogeographical period drama - concerned as much with the landscapes of the mind as with those of the earth. Using the majestic South Australian scenery of the Flinders Ranges and Deep Creek as a backdrop, the film explores the dynamic between Darrow, a coldly ambitious prospector from the nearby town, and Solomon, an enigmatic bushman with a bounty to share. Memories, dreams and premonitions both guide and oppress the two men as they venture towards the coast, in search of a beached whale with a gut full of gold.

  • Sam Collins
  • Sam Collins
  • Sam Collins
  • Denis Smith
  • James Whitrow
    Key Cast
  • Marc Clement-Brown
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Psychogeographical drama, Historical, Drama
  • Runtime:
    23 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 1, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital HDV
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Sam Collins

Born in London, Sam Collins moved to South Australia in 2009, where he now lives and works. His first short film 'Ball of Light' (2012) won a South Australian Screen Award for Best Documentary 2012. 'Ambergris' (2016) is his first piece of narrative fiction, a short produced and funded by the business he co-runs, Smith & Collins.

He is currently in the early stages of developing his next co-writing and directorial project (with Toby Bramwell & Denis Smith), a feature film entitled 'The Inheritance'.

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Director Statement

Australia is a land of myths and legends, and I wanted 'Ambergris' to have that feel, like a story someone might tell over a campfire or in a tavern. Setting the action during the settlement era allowed us to explore characters with previous identities, pasts they may or may not choose to fully reveal to others. In the New World, everyone is reinventing themselves.

'Ambergris' also references the mythology of the whale, a symbol of wildness and obsession throughout cultural history. Remoteness and isolation are the key aspects of the setting; far from 'civilization', notions of status and society break down and human interactions can become more primal. All of these things gave us a backdrop to look at bigger themes like faith and memory. I love films that disorient the viewer and pose questions, rather than just spoon feeding them. Finding interesting niches across and between genres is also an ongoing goal.

With 'Ambergris,' myself and my co-producer Denis Smith aim to show what we can achieve off our own backs, with extremely limited resources. The film was shot entirely on location in remote South Australia, showcasing the natural light and landscapes. The only interior scene was shot in an authentic 1850s shack on a historic cattle station. Thanks to our passionate collaborators, we were able to secure other key elements which make the film 'punch above its' weight', such as an original score performed by a chamber orchestra.

We have another script for a feature film currently in development with writing partner Toby Bramwell, which we will be seeking funding for ('The Inheritance'). We believe 'Ambergris' is just the beginning.