FILM EXTRAS are being sought in Horsham to take part in a movie telling the heroic story of the longest ever bombing mission in World War II.
The film - called Shady Lady - is being tipped for an Oscar and is the latest in a series of real-life tales being made by Horsham-based film company Fact Not Fiction Films.
It tells the stroy of a B-24 Liberator aircraft called Shady Lady which set off from Darwin on August 13 1943 on what was at the time the world’s longest bombing mission to the oil refineries of Balikpanan, Borneo.
Shortly before running out of fuel the plane crash landed on a remote salt pan in north western Australia after the pilot - First Leiutenant Doug Craig - flew for an astonishing 16 hours and 35 minutes.
Film director Tristan Loraine, 49, said: “It shows the crew’s absolute heroism and bravery - the same qualities that many of our Forces still display today. There are some very brave people in the world.”
Filming has already taken place in America and in Australia where the film crew met pilot Doug Craig’s 87-year-old wife Alice - 68 years to the day after Shady Lady force landed. Also there were descendants of Aboriginals who rescued the flight crew that fateful day in 1943.
Fact Not Fiction took Lieutenant Craig’s wife Alice out to the salt pan from her home in America and she was given a US presidential citation on behalf of the crew when in Sydney after Tristan notified President Barack Obama of the historic event and Lieutenant Craig’s bravery.
According to military historians, Lieutenant Craig was one of 11 hand-picked pilots tasked with flying the hazardous mission and helping his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Bill Miller, work out how the B-24s could fly further than their design capabilities.
After the crash, an air and ground search swung into action and a group of monks sent several Aborigines out to look for survivors and they ended up playing a pivotal role in rescuing the airmen and their plane. Twenty seven days after Shady Lady staggered off Darwin runway, the bomber returned safely to Fenton airbase. She would not see combat again, but Craig and his crew survived the war.
The film is planned to be released in May - in time for the Cannes Film Festival. “We think it might be our finest hour,” said Tristan. “Our intention is to make a film that would get an Oscar nomination,” he added. “People have said that it certainly has huge potential to be an Oscar contender.”
Following filming in Australia, Tristan - and ex British Airways pilot turned film maker - is now planning to film scenes in and around Horsham next month and is looking for around 30 local people to take roles as extras. Already film students from Horsham’s Colyer’s College are taking part, along with students from Sussex University.
The award-winning firm of Fact Not Fiction Films are based in Hurst Road, Horsham. Anyone who wants to work as an extra in Shady Lady should be male, aged betweeen 19 and 25, and be “fit looking,” says Tristan. “During the war, people did not tend to be overweight.” To apply for an extra role email firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, Tristan is ensuring that all props used for the film are authentic war-time materials wherever possible, right down to the air crews’ dog tags. But uniforms are having to be specially recreated - in Pakinstan - because war-time originals are too old and unusable.
Genuine war-time head-sets have been bought - brand-new - on eBay. “It’s amazing,” said Tristan, “We’ve managed to buy throat mics that are brand new and unused that were made in 1943.”
And even the West Sussex County Times has played a role in the making of Shady Lady - our print works in Portsmouth supplied Tristan with paper of a sufficient, authentic size to depict a detailed map of bomber targets.
The County Times has teamed up with Fact Not Fiction Films to offer readers an exclusive offer: You can enjoy a 30 per cent discount on Fact Not Fiction Films by quoting code FNFF14101947 at the checkout (or see www.dftenterprises.com or www.factnotfictionfilms.com for more details).
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