The Nullarbor (2020)
- in development
The Nullarbor is a 90-minute feature film that focuses on the harrowing UFO encounter that was experienced by the Knowles family in the Western Australian outback on the morning of January 20th, 1988, along with the aftermath that followed. Their story will be depicted in dramatized re-enactments and told in the words of Faye Knowles and her three sons Patrick, Sean and Wayne. The documentary will also include an overview of the region’s history, including snapshots of other documented encounters.
The Australian outback is notorious for strange sightings and encounters, going back more than 60,000 years in Australian Indigenous folklore. In the remote Aboriginal communities of Central Australia, the Warlpiri residents regularly sight and discuss UFOs. At night it’s not uncommon to see UFOs – and non-indigenous people are warned not to drive on their own at night lest they risk an alien abduction.
Indigenous people have reported ghostly orbs of light that have frightened people for centuries. Local residents call them Min-Min lights. They are seemingly persistent one moment, but fleeting the next, the lights follow travellers far across the land and seem to have high-strangeness and intelligence about them. They are usually described as fuzzy disks or glowing football-shaped orbs that can grow in size, get brighter or dimmer, take on different colours, and move about. They hover about three feet above the ground and are often mistaken for the lights of an oncoming vehicle. But, unlike vehicle lights, these phantom lights often appear to follow or approach travellers, whether they are on foot, on horseback or driving a car. Sometimes they standstill, while at other times they seem to chase the observer. Thousands of people, including truck drivers, have seen them over the years, and many of them reported it as a terrifying or “spooky” experience.
The Nullarbor is a desolate and isolated region of Western Australia covering an estimated 200,000 square kilometres. Its name is derived from Latin, meaning ‘no trees’. It is an area steeped in reports of UFO encounters. The local indigenous population has passed down through the generations their shared UFO experiences and call these strange and elusive entities the Min-Min lights. There is only one way to traverse the Nullarbor by road. The Eyre Highway, a formidable and notoriously hazardous stretch of road, known for being the longest straight section of road at 1,600 kilometres. This highway is the life blood for the few communities that carve out an existence in one of the loneliest places on the planet.
It was on the Eyre Highway in the early hours of the 20th January 1988 that the Knowles family experienced an event that changed their lives forever. Telling the story in their own words, the Knowles family will recount their terror as the event unfolded:
Sean was driving the family’s 1984 blue Ford Telstar. His brothers, Wayne and Patrick, and his mother, Faye, were all asleep when he spotted a bright light ahead of him, stationary on the road. Approaching the light, Sean woke Patrick. What they found was something that none of the family could identify, and something that the family would never forget. The source of the light responded to their presence, beginning a terrifying 2-hour game of cat and mouse. Attempting to evade the menacing object, Sean repeatedly was forced to change their direction of travel. Undaunted, the object continued to hunt the family. Increasingly panicked, and believing they were all going to die, the family’s terror was echoed by the incessant barking of the family dogs.
In the midst of this, the family recounts how they heard a loud thud followed by a sense of weightlessness, as the car was elevated off the ground for 15 minutes. Silence fell as pressure built within the vehicle. The family describes feeling as if their brains were being sucked out – that sound was distorted, and that a foul odour, like decomposing bodies, filled the car.
Without warning, the car was released, dropping to the ground, the force of the impact shredding a rear tyre. Fighting to regain control Sean brought the car to stop and the family fled into the safety of the darkness. Huddled, they watched as the object returned, its light piercing the darkness searching for them. Time passed and eventually, the object lost interest and left. Terrified, the family changed the tyre and drove down the highway until they came to the Mundrabilla Roadhouse.
In the words of the family, what came next was far worse. What lay ahead could only be described as a media gauntlet where the family was kept isolated from the public, separated from each other, and subjected to gruelling interviews and dubious story licensing agreements, personally overseen by Christopher Skase, CEO of the Channel Seven Network. The Knowles family incident was heavily investigated by UFO researchers who encountered a degree of resistance from official sources. There appears to have been an active Government suppression of the true facts of the incident.
Questions remain unanswered and key articles of evidence, such as the car, (which was covered in a layer of strange ash), and the family dogs, disappeared and were never returned to the family.
Cutting his teeth on childhood super-8 epics, Stephen graduated from Swinburne Film & Television School and later wrote, produced and directed two low budget TV features, SEE JACK RUN (1991, Nine Network) about a boy struggling with illiteracy, and THE ALIVE TRIBE (1996, Showtime) a farce about environmental decay. In 2000, he released the romantic comedy, THE REAL THING, starring Kate Fischer (Arclight, Universal Pictures) and followed up with the steam-punk sci-fi fantasy, VIRUS, starring Kerry Armstrong and John Stanton, about the emancipation of women in the 1800s. He then made, THE 25TH REICH, (2012, Monster Pictures, Lightning Entertainment), a rollicking tongue in cheek, sci-fi homage to Sam Fuller, WWII movies and classic creature-features, which explores out of control fascism and ideology.
Stephen also shot the hour-long, Channel Seven documentary, OZ ENCOUNTERS:
UFO’S IN AUSTRALIA written and produced by Debra Byrne (The Secret) and starring Australian television icon Martin Sacks.
In 2018, Stephen co-wrote, co-produced and directed, THE BBQ, starring the cream of Australia’s comedy talent. THE BBQ was release wide across Australia into over 300 cinemas.
Stephen is also an award-winning cinematographer, shooting a wide range of
productions including the Australian hits, FUNKY SQUAD, FRONTLINE, and A
RIVER SOMEWHERE. He is a twice-nominated AACTA (Australian Academy Award) cinematographer, including for his work on the documentary, DR SARMAST’S MUSIC SCHOOL, shot in Kabul Afghanistan.
Stephen established the Australian theatrical distribution company, LABEL, which released, JAMES CAMERON’S DEEPSEA CHALLENGE, BROTHERS’ NEST (SXSW 2018), and HOUNDS OF LOVE (VENICE FILM FESTIVAL 2017.)
Stephen recently finished producing and directing the feature documentary,
DEFEND, CONSERVE, PROTECT, narrated by Dan Aykroyd, following the exploits of Sea Shepherd as the battle the Japanese whaling fleet in Antarctic waters:
Defend Conserve Protect is very much a passion project and he hopes the film makes a small but significant difference to the environmental movement.
Executive Producer, Lawyer
Shaun has specialized in film and entertainment law for over 20 years, and also has a background working in film distribution and exhibition via Sharmill Films and Cinema Nova. Shaun also lectures in film and entertainment law at the Victoria College of the Arts Film and TV school, Open Channel and RMIT University.
A highlight of Shaun’s career to date had been acting as a lawyer on Adam Elliot’s film HARVIE KRUMPET, which won the Oscar for best short animated film in 2004.
Tait is developing and producing several projects across a broad range of formats (documentary, TV series, features), including the 2019 feature documentary, Suzi
Q – about the life and times of music legend, Suzi Quatro. Tait is also a consultant to independent producers, distributors and film agencies on matters ranging from creative assessment and script development to marketing, publicity and festival strategies. From 2004 to 2008 he was one of two Feature Film Evaluation Managers at the Film Finance Corporation Australia (FFC), and from 1996- 2004 he was General Manager of the leading independent distribution company Palace Films. Prior to joining Palace in 1996, Tait was Director of the Melbourne International Film Festival for 9 years (1988-96); and National Exhibition Manager at the Australian Film Institute (1986-88).
Tait co-produced the WW2 sci-fi comedy, THE 25TH REICH, with Stephen Amis and also produced, HEALING, directed by AFI-Award winner Craig Monahan starring Hugo Weaving, Don Hany and Xavier Samuel, and more recently Stephen Amis’, THE BBQ and Clayton Jacobson’s, BROTHER’S NEST.
Kerryn Markulin worked with Matthew on the short psychological thriller, FOREVER
HOUSE, which is currently on the 2019/20 film festival circuit.
Kerryn has written a number of narrative feature scripts and has several other projects currently in development.
Matthew holds a Bachelor of Film Production and an Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media specializing in Lighting and Compositing for Visual Effects.
Matthew has worked on over fifty low budget film projects, and in 2014 directed, produced and wrote his award-winning film, ENDURE, which went on to broadcast on America’s Comcast network.
Earlier in 2019 Matthew directed and produced the short psychological thriller, FOREVER HOUSE, which is currently on the 2019/20 film festival circuit.
Adam La Rosa
Adam La Rosa has been actively involved in the film industry for more than 20 years as an actor. In addition to this, he has 2 decades of business experience behind him, both in running his own as well as in the public and corporate world at a national level. He’s entrepreneurial and highly professional in his approach.
Through his company ‘La Rosa Productions’, he's been Executive Producer of 4 feature films to date.
The Legend of Ben Hall (2017) directed by Matthew Holmes, which following its world premiere in late 2016, has since been distributed and sold in over 33 countries worldwide and gained the support of Film Victoria.
SUZI Q (2019) directed by Liam Firmager, which is a music documentary documenting the extraordinary life of Suzi Quatro, featuring guests such as Alice Cooper, Henry Winkler and Deborah Harry. Following its world premiere at MIFF (Melbourne International Film Festival) in August 2019, it then went on to premiere internationally in London and screen at over 30 cinemas nationally as well as over 100 in Australia with more on the way. This film gained support from both Screen Australia and Film Victoria.
Rage (2020) directed by John Balazs, is a crime-thriller currently in postproduction and showing considerable interest from at least 3 international distributors so far.
Revolution Pictures Pty Ltd
Label Distribution Pty Ltd
Eyre Highway Productions Pty Ltd
La Rosa Productions
2.35 Anamorphic, 4k
Revolution Pictures/Label Distribution
Cell +61 (0)413 185 533
This film requires a budget of AUD$100,000. If you or someone you know is as passionate about mental health awareness and cinema as we are and would like to discuss funding/investment, please get in contact.