The Great White Whale : The Filmmakers

Michael Dillon AM FRGS ACS: Producer and Director

Michael credits Warwick Deacock, leader of the Great White Whale expedition, with giving him his adventure filmmaking start. On a trek in the Everest region in 1969, Warwick succumbed to altitude sickness and was forced to hand his movie camera to Michael. The following year, he went back with a camera of his own. Michael is a pioneering adventure cinematographer whose many award-winning films encompass the world’s most spectacular destinations, from the Himalayas to the Andes, Antarctica, the Arctic, the Pacific and Africa. In 1984 Michael filmed Australia’s first ascent of Everest,  unsupported, without bottled oxygen and via White Limbo, an avalanche prone and unrepeated North Face route. A couple of years later, he conceived the idea and filmed Tim Macartney-Snape’s full ascent of Everest from sea level. The resulting film, Everest: Sea to Summit, winner of eight Grand Prizes. Hillary: Ocean to Sky, his seventh Hillary film, was the Grand Prize Winner at Mendi Mountain Film Festival, Bilboa in 2020.  

In 2022 he was awarded the International Aliance of Mountain Film Grand Prize for  Lifetime Achievement.

An intrepid adventurer himself, Michael was the first Australian to receive the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award. He was awarded the inaugural Australian Geographic Spirit of Adventure Award in 1987 and is a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. Inspired by Hillary’s work among the Sherpas, he became a founding director of the Australian Himalayan Foundation and volunteer filmmaker for related Himalayan Trusts in New Zealand and the UK. In 2004 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of his contribution to the Australian film industry and his humanitarian work in Nepal.

Michael Balson : Editor

Mike is one of Australia’s most experienced and awarded documentary editors, with dozens of international documentaries to his credit.  He has produced, directed, edited, shot and written Natural History, Adventure, Cultural and Environmental Documentaries for Australian and International Broadcasters, including many for The Discovery Channel and National Geographic.  

Mike Balson has won Australian Film Institute Awards and American Cinema Editors Awards for Directing, Editing and Soundtrack. Working through his production company, Entity Productions, he edited Michael Dillon’s 2019 award winning documentary feature film “Hillary: Ocean to Sky”.

Michael Worthington: Sound Design

Michael Worthington is a highly experienced sound mixer, designer and educator. Working from his Soundworthy studio in northern NSW, Michael, was responsible for the sound design for Michael Dillon’s 2019 award winning documentary feature film “Hillary: Ocean to Sky”.

With no sound recordings available from the original expedition, Michael has produced a 5.1 sound mix for The Great White Whale to fully immerse the viewer in this epic journey. 

Paul Jarman : Music

Paul is an Australian multiinstrumentalist, composer and choirmaster. He is known for his work with school children, assisting them to develop their compositions. Paul Jarman joined the Australian world music group, Sirocco in 1996. He works with other composers and choir leaders and promotes the inclusion of traditional music forms in compositions. His compositions for choir and orchestra have been performed around the world in venues such as the White House and at the opening of the Rugby World Cup and at the London Olympics. Paul has performed for audiences in over 35 countries.

Paul has written and performed film scores for three of Michael Dillon’s previous productions – Hillary: Ocean to Sky, A Little Bit Mongolian and Everest: The Boy Who Dared. 

Paul skilfully intertwines his score with John Crick’s unique song cycle to enhance this epic tale. His music ranging from gently reflective riffs to splashes of spine tingling intensity.