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15m Documentary 2021

Region: Orange NSW

Youth/Open Entry

Unclassified: No age restrictions

Warning: This film contains actual bushfire footage that may be distressing to some viewers.

When dry lightning ignites a destructive bushfire atop of Mount Canobolas threatening 156 houses and vital multi-million-dollar infrastructure, 120 volunteer firefighters deploy to stop the blaze before devastation consumes their entire community. Capturing two rural fire brigades in action on the frontlines, Lidster and Clifton Grove-Ophir, we follow their dangerous journey to protect a beloved home against a ferocious fire front during the deadly heat of an Australian summer.

Director Samuel Rodwell

Director SAMUAL RODWELL is an award-winning Australian screenwriter, director, and producer.

In 2021, his debut short film ‘Inferno’, captured the frontline firefighters battling Australia’s apocalyptic 201920 bushfire season, received worldwide critical acclaim screening at international film festivals from Sydney to Los Angeles.

Rodwell’s work on ‘Inferno’ has attracted recognition with the prestigious nomination for Best Australian Short Documentary at Antenna Documentary Film Festival in 2022. Rodwell received further nominations for Best Director and the Audience Choice Award at CinefestOZ Film Festival in 2021.

An alumni of Screenworks Australia, Rodwell has been competitively selected and mentored by some of Australia’s most successful writers and directors alike across film and television in various career programs.

In August 2019, Rodwell was selected for Screenworks Directing Intensive, where he was mentored by acclaimed directors Kriv Stenders, Rachel Landers, and Australian Directors’ Guild CEO Kingston Anderson.

In December 2019, Rodwell was announced as the screenwriter recipient for Fremantle Australia, Screen NSW, and Screenworks Australia’s Inside of the Writers Room 2020 program.

Prior to his filmic efforts, Rodwell’s directorial background in commercials helped paved the way for the up-and-coming director’s transition into filmmaking with great ease.

Rodwell directed commercials most notably for emergency services agencies across New South Wales for more than half-a-decade. Bringing various campaigns to life for NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW Police Force, NSW Department of Education, NSW Ambulance, Fire & Rescue NSW, and numerous local governments.

“In making INFERNO, I had stumbled upon a film that was entirely unexpected, unconceived, and unimaginable for a young filmmaker to have under their belt so early in one’s career. Even more so when the production is a short film with the scale and production timeline being equal to a feature film. In collaboration with the NSW Rural Fire Service, I found myself embedded as a documentarian filmmaker alongside hundreds of frontline firefighters in strike team tankers battling walls of flames to hanging out of an open-door helicopter above a volatile bushfire capturing the magnitude of such a setting through an cinematic lens across two major fire seasons, that includes the Australian megafires of 2019-20.

For years, my profound love for large scale cinema, particularly the old-school practical blockbusters, has continuously inspired my career to venture into that world of filmmaking, even if it’s within a concise iteration this time around. Having the opportunity now, after returning from filming the fires with an archive of approximately 30hrs of footage, I had the material required to produce a large-scale film of my own that served my filmmaking aspirations and mimicked the qualities of the blockbusters that have influenced my sensibilities to date.

Despite being a documentary by technicality, I have always envisioned INFERNO to be more akin to fictitious action and war films in execution. I knew I didn’t want INFERNO to fall into the conventions of many firefighting documentaries that have come before. Where the storytelling focus is in the past tense being lead via talking head interviews and stock footage. I set out to achieve telling my film’s story with the principal of showing rather than telling with the footage I had captured exclusively for the production. With no interviews to interrupt the audience’s immersion, I wanted to present an experience, that’s told in the present, telling a cohesive set-up and pay-off visual story in real time to immerse the viewer in this chaotic world, placing them in the boots of firefighters at war with a force of nature that felt incredibly fresh and distinctive to me as an filmmaker. Even if it’s just monumental slices, I wanted audiences to have an insight of what it’s like to be a frontline firefighter through a logical continuity that’s showcased through the extravaganza of a documentary masquerading as an action blockbuster.”




Samuel Rodwell


Samuel Rodwell


Samuel Rodwell

Executive Producer

Tony Cheney

Executive Producer

Jane Arnott

Executive Producer

David Hoadley AFSM

Executive Producer

Brett Bowden AFSM






Samuel Rodwell Films