ASHTON FILM: Tamworth local Ben Fletcher in the role of James Ashton
ASHTON FILM: Tamworth local Ben Fletcher in the role of James Ashton Leonie Kelly

He died in Gladstone but his life will be remembered on film

JAMES Ashton's life story is being made into a full-length feature movie by Tamworth filmmaker Leonie Kelly.

"James is buried in Gladstone, but the graves of his family are quiet spread out," she said.

"But my interest in the family was piqued by a memorial plaque dedicated to the family at Hanging Rock."

In 1852, the Ashtons were visiting the Hanging Rock goldfields in New South Wales when James's wife Mary gave birth to a daughter, also named Mary.

His wife died 11 days afterwards and the baby passed two months later.

Ms Kelly did some research on the Ashtons and was so inspired she spent two years writing a movie script.



"I had a script editor to help me with the wording at times," she said.

"But from the word go I wrote the script and made the story come alive.

"It took me a few years, but when you come across family members they tell other stories I hadn't heard before so I've been updating it as we go."

The film is Ms Kelly's first, her only previous work behind the camera was filming paranormal investigations.

"It's a big step up to making a feature film," she said. "When I first started I knew I could do it and people have come along with open arms."

The cast was selected using local and professional actors and filming is already under way.

"Local Ben Fletcher is playing the lead role of James Ashton, he looks remarkably similar to James," Ms Kelly said.

"We've got 40-50 people on the job and we've been shooting in various historical villages and locations around the area. I've been able to track down a tent and some exotic animals for the big circus scenes."


What's more remarkable, Ms Kelly works full time and is producing the film in her spare time.

"I'm putting in some big hours, but hopefully the film will be ready by the end of 2019," she said.

"It's a great Australian story."

To follow the progress of the film, visit Ashton's on Facebook.

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