RESCUE Special Ops: articles

Daniel Amalm in Rescue Special Ops.

Crew out on a limb

"If you are in trouble, you want to see these guys coming for you."

That is how Daniel Amalm describes his role in the new Aussie drama on Channel Nine - Rescue Special Ops.

"The rescue team is an elite team who are specially trained, they have high risks and high stakes and they have to stay in control to save people," Amalm said.

And while it may just be acting, spending some time on the set of the show could leave you wondering whether it is actually real or not.

The Rescue HQ set is nestled on a quiet commercial street in Sydney.

There are offices across the road, a printing company around the corner and a couple of times a day, the rescue cars whiz out to film a car accident, a dangerous mountain rescue or to abseil from Centrepoint tower.

All in a day's work for the actors in Rescue Special Ops, but an exciting prospect for the media contingent visiting the set.

"Do you get to do any cool stunts?" we wonder.

"We do get to do a lot of the stunts," Andrew Lees replies.

He is playing vertical ropes and drops specialist Chase Gallagher… even his title sounds impressive.

"We did a big scene in the mountains and even though we only do the top section, you are sitting there over the drop and you really want to make sure you get on to the ledge before your rope runs out.

"I love all the physical stuff that goes along with it as well."

The first episode of the drama introduces us not only to the characters but also the high level of drama we can expect.

The team is called to the Blue Mountains after two high school students go missing.

Chase and Jordan (Amalm) are placed in one team, while Chase's older brother Dean (Les Hill) and Lara Knight (Gigi Edgley) are in team Delta.

The teams head in different directions to find the missing teens, but, when team Delta stumbles across the body of a missing man, the plans change and much abseiling, winching and helicopter flights are required to get the teams through the end of the episode.

The show offers fast-paced, action-packed drama that brings elements of other popular Aussie dramas Rush and All Saints into one show, almost guaranteeing Nine a ratings winner.

But for Amalm and Lees, the show offers an opportunity to be in a job that lets them explore interesting storylines, perform cool stunts and drive around in a four-wheel-drive with flashing lights - every guy's dream, really.

"If we have to shoot a scene and we have to do the block in the rescue truck, people will give way," Amalm said.

"It's an exciting production.

"It's very hands-on and we get to operate the various tools in rescue, which is cool.

"The cast are great as well. We like to have a bit of a laugh and we don't like to take things too seriously - but serious enough to get the show shot, of course."

For Lees, a NIDA graduate, as well as having loads of fun abseiling off buildings and driving fast cars, he is also enjoying the challenge of being in a drama that has a powerful storyline.

"The rescues are secondary to what is happening to our characters," he said.

"If audiences get involved they will be quite loyal hopefully, because the stories are much more about the team and each rescue that we come across is something that filters into our lives or has relevance to something our characters are going through."

Rescue Special Ops marks Lees' first full-time television acting gig since graduating from NIDA in 2007.

But that doesn't mean he has been queuing for the dole all that time.

Apart from a few weeks in retail, the 24-year-old has been steadily plying his trade in some very interesting shows. Perhaps most exciting is his stint in the soon-to-be-released mini-series Pacific.

Thirty-year-old Amalm is no stranger to Australian television audiences.

He first came to our attention in 1994 as Jack Wilson in Home and Away.

After leaving the show some six years later, he pursued a career in music back in his home town of Brisbane.

But in 2008 the acting bug bit again and he was back on our televisions in the phenomenally successful drama Underbelly, playing bad boy Dino Dibra.

After Underbelly, he made his film debut in Two Fists, One Heart, once again playing the bad boy.

Later this year we will see him in cinemas again when his next film, Cedar Boys, is released where he plays yet another bad guy.

But while his character in Rescue Special Ops may have a tainted past, Amalm informs us that Jordan Zwitkowski is a reformed man.

"Jordan has a bit of an edge," he said.

"The back-story is, he got into rescue because he himself was a bit of a hoon and he was in an accident and Dean pulled him out of the car and that got Jordan interested in saving lives."

Back on the Rescue Special Ops set, there is a break in filming as a cloud covers the sun and they can't get the light right. An extra wanders back through the scene to reset for the shoot, a dresser helps Libby Tanner reposition her microphone and the younger actors joke about a note they have read on someone's script.

It might not be real, but if you squint and look sideways it very easily could be.

July 25, 2009
Sunshine Coast Daily Online