Art director honoured

    Leslie Binns at work in his studio.

    From Anzacs to The Man from Snowy River, Leslie Binns has been a creative mind behind some of Australia’s most iconic filmmaking.

    The talented art director and production designer from Kyneton has more than 40 credits to his name. On Monday he also added Medal of the Order of Australia to his achievements for service to the performing arts.

    “When the letter came I was thrilled – blown away,” he said.

    “I have met so many creative and talented people in different arts departments over the years and it has been a privilege to work with them.”

    His career in the film industry has spanned four decades in Australia and across the world.

    Earlier works included Skippy, The Hands of Cormac Joyce (1972), and Eureka Stockade Miniseries (1984), then Robinson Crusoe (1997) with Pierce Brosnan in Papua New Guinea.

    But perhaps the most memorable for Kyneton locals was Healing (2014) based on the true story of a low-security prison in Gippsland. It was shot at Campaspe Downs and involved close work with raptors from Healesville Sanctuary.

    “Every project is very different and all have their challenges and high moments,” Les said.

    It’s production design for Moby Dick (1998) that Les credits as one of his biggest challenges to date.

    To create the magic of Moby Dick, Les built one of the world’s largest horizon tanks from scratch with underwater tracks and hydraulic arms for whale pieces, and two wave machines.

    It took Les 16 weeks to bring to life the Pequod – Herman Melville’s fictional 19th-century Nantucket whaling ship from the 1851 novel. Les also constructed much of the featured whaling town and parts of the whale itself.

    His work on Moby Dick saw him nominated for an American Emmy for outstanding art direction.

    It was also Les’ brilliant creative mind behind the sets of Home Alone 4, design behind Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (2001), and Salem’s Lot Miniseries (2004).

    Les has been made a life member of The Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers for his industry contribution.

    His artistic talent is not confined to the screen. Les has also illustrated books and produced many other creative works.