QCA alumnus takes out Ozzie for best sound

Australian diggers at Fire Support Base Coral, Vietnam.

A documentary produced by Queensland College of Art alumnus and filmmaker Daryl Sparkes has fought off competition from multi-million dollar feature films such as Sweet Country and The Butterfly Tree to win the Best Sound Design Award in the inaugural OzFlix Independent Film Awards.

Produced by Dr Sparkes, who teaches film at the University of Southern Queensland and written and directed by Leonie Jones, also from USQ, The Battle of Fire Support Base Coral tells the largely unknown story of the longest and hardest battle fought by Australian soldiers in the Vietnam War.

The largest battle Australian forces had been involved in since World War II, 25 Diggers were killed and more than 100 wounded, the most casualties suffered by Australia in any one engagement in the Vietnam War.

The film, narrated by acclaimed Australian actor William McInnes, took seven years to make, and features interviews with more than 30 veterans who were involved in the battle at fire support bases in Coral and Balmoral, Vietnam.

Dr Sparkes with Leonie Jones, director of the Battle of Fire Support Base Carol.
Daryl Sparkes with Leonie Jones, director of the Battle of Fire Support Base Carol at the OzFlix Independent Film Awards in Melbourne.

First broadcast in November, 2016 on Foxtel’s History Channel, it will screen again on Anzac Day 2018 in the lead-up to the battle’s 50th anniversary in May.

The OzFlix Independent Film Awards, dubbed “The Ozzies”, celebrate the achievements of independent Australian films made for less than $5 million and recognise the outstanding efforts of talented practitioners who work within the film industry.

Dr Sparkes, a senior lecturer in Media Studies and Production at USQ Springfield, graduated from Queensland College of Art in 1987 and has made more than 30 documentaries and short films.

He said more than 100 films were up for nomination with The Battle of Fire Support Base Coral honoured in three categories.

“It’s really amazing, but I was little shocked,’’ he says.

“We really didn’t have a lot of money to work with compared to the other films we beat out for nomination, but we had a lot of commitment from people who put a lot of time and effort into making this documentary.

“We all felt it was important we captured the stories of these veterans on film and preserve the memories of those who took part in the battle that otherwise might never have been told.”