The Legend of Ben Hall: Earnshaw old girl far from bushed after extending range

By on March 19, 2015
Studio portrait photo of Jessica Pearce who is a producer on The Legend of Ben Hall movie. Jessica Pearce

WHEN credits roll on the new Australian film about bushranger Ben Hall, one name might leap out for viewers from Brisbane’s north.

Listed as “Producer” for The Legend of Ben Hall is Jessica Pearce (pictured),  who spent her childhood at Brighton, attended Banyo’s Earnshaw State College, and called Brisbane home until she left for Melbourne in 2012 “looking for something different”.

“I wanted to force myself to have new experiences and grow, and moving away by myself created those opportunities for me.”

“To be honest when I originally jumped into film I was unsure where exactly I wanted to go with it.

“I had a ‘yes man’ philosophy in the first few months and a natural course led me to producing,” she told NorthernLife.com.au via email from Melbourne.

But before Melbourne and movies called, Pearce worked in sales after graduating from Earnshaw. “I first started in retail sales but then spent three years working as a travel agent for Flight Centre.

“Then I moved to Melbourne and started becoming immersed in the amazing amount of creativity down here.

“Creativity is not something I would have normally accredited myself. After working on a few friends music video clips I slowly became more intrigued by the idea.”

We are in no way trying to glorify the characters or that period of Australian History but tell the story of people, the decisions they make and the people that influence them

The budding movie-maker is loving Melbourne now, but she enjoyed a rich childhood in Brisbane’s northern suburbs.

“I was vice school captain and sports captain as well as heavily involved in drama.

“I also joined the army cadets that were affiliated with the school and trained at the Banyo Shudokai Jiu Jitsu (martial arts) dojo.

“The school was incredibly supportive and sponsored me to attend the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Pan Pacifics.”

Four production crew from The Legend of Ben Hall stand in Australian bush paddock.

On location for The Legend of Ben Hall.

Her mum, psychologist Claudia Gibson, worked hard while raising Jessica and her two sisters and a brother.

“She was a qualified nurse who raised us while she put herself through her psychology degree.

“She is an incredible inspiration to me, as is the support of all my siblings, in knowing I can achieve what I choose.”

All the family still live in Brisbane and their support and inspiration has helped Jessica make a flying start to her new career in film, which only kicked off about a year ago.

“I jumped in the deep end and used my previous sales and management skills to take me where I could and hit the ground running.

“I was given some amazing opportunities and just learnt as much as I could from the people around me.”

Extras in period costume for The Legend of Ben Hall receive their instructions in an open field.

Extras in period costume receive their instructions.

Pearce described The Legend of Ben Hall as “a gritty and honest Australian Western epic following the last six months of Ben Hall’s life”.

For those a little rusty on their bushrangers, Ben Hall and some unsavoury mates led a life of crime in central western NSW before Hall was shot dead by police in 1865.

Pearce said: “We are in no way trying to glorify the characters or that period of Australian History but tell the story of people, the decisions they make and the people that influence them.”

She landed the Ben Hall gig when a mutual friend introduced her to director Matthew Holmes, who was financing the project via a “crowdfunding” push online.

The Legend of Ben Hall had just finished its first crowdfunding program. What had started as a 20-minute project had now increased to a 50-minute project,” Pearce said.

“Matthew knew we had only five weeks of pre-production, which normally can take four months, so he asked me to come on board.

“I was incredibly fortunate to work with Matthew. Not only did he take a chance on me as a newcomer but he is an incredibly dedicated and collaborative director/producer.

“I have learnt so much through his advice as well as his support of my role on the project.”

Director Matthew Holmes in costume acting and directing on location for The Legend of Ben Hall with three crew members, two female and one male.

Matthew Holmes in costume acting and directing on location.

And what a role it is. “As a producer I oversee the entire project. I manage scheduling, budgeting, contracts, hiring as well as oversee the logistics on set.

“The heads of department are crucial as I liaise with them for the input and feedback as to what each department requires.”

Pearce said she wanted to create unique and interesting Australian films. “My long-term plan is open to possibilities and I am exploring multiple avenues.

“I would love to continue producing as well as exploring my writing and directing skills.

“I would love to keep working with Matthew – it is very fortunate to find people you work with really well.”

Proving her multi-skilling abilities, Pearce was producing another feature in early development called Bubblegum: A Detective Story. “Also, I’m in development as writer/producer of an upcoming comedy web series Dee-Brief.”

“Most of all I want to be making unique and interesting projects.”

The Legend of Ben Hall was scheduled to be premiered in Forbes – the bushranger’s old stomping ground – mid this year in what is the 150th anniversary of Ben Hall’s death. “Our cinematic release date has not be confirmed but is hopefully scheduled for 2015.”

About Nick Moore

Nick Moore is the editor of NorthernLife.com.au. He also edits the printed Great Wait. Nick started as a journalist in 1993 and has worked for Fairfax, News Corp and APN.

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