Private Project


A new kind of war memorial

What happens when you destroy a war memorial and what do you put in its place?

These questions faced Arts Officer, Colin James, and Project Manager and Artist, Amanda Gibson as they looked for ways to replace the much-loved Greensborough War Memorial statues in suburban Melbourne, Australia, which had stood for 14 years in a local park. Carved from cypress, and still rooted in the soil, moisture had crept up inside the figures and rotted them from within.

Homefront – a new kind of war memorial, begins with the burning of the old statues in a ceremonial fire. What unfolds, through interviews with local war veterans, are narratives of terrible injuries, paralysing fear, humour, and love. Homefront is a rare insider’s view of a sculpture project where the people at the heart of these stories drove the design.

Extraordinary footage documents the process of collecting the stories, designing sculptures and carving full-sized figures from blocks of raw cypress using chainsaws. The original carver, local legend Leigh Conkie, is joined by world champion Hikaru Kodama from Japan to realise Amanda Gibson’s designs. Joining them, blacksmith Roland Danenhauer, forges everything from an aeroplane propeller to a horse bridle, dog collar and poppies, with a well-hefted hammer and a keen eye.

Together they create a new type of war memorial and a new way of telling stories of war and of homecoming.

  • Michael Wilkins
  • Amanda Gibson
  • Michael Wilkins
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    48 minutes 8 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 9, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    28,000 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, Sony PMW-F5
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Melbourne
    July 20, 2019
    Official Selection : Melbourne Documentary Film Festival
Distribution Information
  • SBS-TV
    Country: Australia
    Rights: Free TV
Director Biography - Michael Wilkins

HOMEFRONT is Michael's first full length documentary as Director, and has been his favourite project to date after a long career as a Director, DOP and Editor.

Since late 2005 Michael's company 2 Road Films has either produced, shot and/or edited over 800 videos, including TVCs, short films, marketing and corporate videos. Highlights include work for Tourism Australia, filming the Melbourne component of some short-form docos for Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, and directing a series of National commercials for the Australian Department of the Environment.

His aerial filming from helicopters and planes includes work in the North-West Highlands of Queensland, Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, Gulf of Carpentaria, Great Barrier Reef and numerous locations around the state of Victoria.

His work has taken him to locations such as the Atacama Desert in Chile, Burma, Nepal, and The Simpson & Tirari Deserts in outback Australia. In 2004 he filmed a 400km return journey
by catamaran riding the flooded Warburton river through the Australian outback to the normally inaccessible Kati Thanda - Lake Eyre.

Cinematography Reel

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