My Place

Leslie Binns (Damjan Janevski). 340486_01

Kyneton local and Medal of the Order of Australia recipient Leslie Binns tells Zoe Moffatt about his time spent in the film industry.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am a production designer for film and television, and I began my career as an illustrator and commercial artist. I exhibited my satirical drawings in well known Brisbane and Sydney galleries. I have also worked on theatrical productions throughout my career.

What is your connection to Kyneton and what do you like about where you live?

I grew up in the country and love it. It is easy to keep up my contacts from here in Kyneton.

Where is your favourite local place to spend time?

My favourite places to visit are our main regional art galleries.

What, if anything, would you change about where you live?

A great disappointment to me and many others here was the loss of the original Lost trades fair from Kyneton. I felt we had more variety of specialist artisans, including international guests. I would also like to see rural land more protected from excessive development.

Tell us something people would be surprised to know about you?

People might be surprised to know that after working in Kenya, Africa, I spent most of my free time with the Masai people. I helped them to build a cultural centre in the form of a village (boma). It was used for the sale of their artefacts and crafts and was a venue for their traditional dance. For this I was honoured by the Chief of the Masai who formerly announced me as an elder for life.

You have an impressive history in the production industry, what has been a favourite film you have worked on?

I have worked on many well known productions. I enjoyed the making of the Man from Snowy River, I was thrilled with it’s success both here and internationally. The Americans regarded it as a ‘great western’. From a design point of view the ‘Hallmark series’ of Moby Dick was the largest logistical challenge of my career, as the Melville’s story was set in the ocean. I had to build a vast horizon lake in which a full size whaling ship, the Pequot was entirely built. The lake contained wave makers and we built tracks for the prop whales to surface and dive from. The built set represented the wharves and township of Nantucket, USA. The budget and logistics of Moby Dick was quite difficult. My work on this project was celebrated by the nomination for an Emmy award.