The achievements of indigenous sportsman Artie Beetson are to be detailed in large-scale Australian movie “The Underdogs” directed by Neil McGregor (“The Little Things”). Production is set to begin in late 2021.

Beetson was in the twilight of his Rugby League career in 1980 when he was called upon by local politician Ron McAuliffe to help reverse the fortunes of the Queensland state team. Together they navigated corrupt politics and sports bureaucracy to lead a team of underdogs through the famous “State of Origin” series to an unlikely victory against New South Wales.

The film is being produced by Cloudland Pictures, with producer EJ Garrett (“Murri Minute”) and writers David Owen, Todd Atwood and Sam Atwood. Local and international distribution negotiations currently underway.

The writing team interviewed many former Origin greats to find new sides to the first State of Origin decider. The film has been endorsed by Queensland Rugby League, The Artie Beetson Foundation and Rugby League legends including Chris Close and Colin Scott.

“Sport and film evoke the triumph of human spirit in a powerful way. The great rivalry of the State of Origin, while it may divide us by a line on the map, it also unites us in a very unique, Australian way,” said McGregor. “This first Origin game is a crucial event in our country’s sporting and cultural history, and this story needs to be told.”

McGregor has had a career as an assistant director and in locations, working on productions such as “Deadpool,” “Godzilla” and “The Interview.” On returning to Australia, from Hollywood he was appointed VP locations & production attraction at Screen Queensland.