Australian helmer Phillip Noyce is prepping Rats of Tobruk, a World War II feature inspired by experiences his father shared of a brave band of untrained Oz soldiers. Nascent Canberra- and Los Angeles-based DEMS Entertainment is partnering to co-produce and finance the drama which is eyeing a 2019 production start.

The Rats of Tobruk was the name given to the soldiers of the garrison who held the Libyan port against a German-Italian army commanded by Gen.Erwin Rommel during the 1941 Siege of Tobruk. The film will follow a group of eight soldiers from the 13th battalion who, outgunned and outnumbered, helped turn the tide of the war.

On bringing the story to the screen, Noyce says, “Ever since I can remember, my father retold stories of a wartime struggle that never seemed to lose its ability to mesmerize all who would listen. Now with the help of his diaries and those many hours spent listening, I plan to share this remarkable story with the world.”

Noyce, the director of such features as Rabbit Proof Fence, The Bone Collector and Clear and Present Danger, recently wrapped production on the Fox medical drama The Resident starring Emily Van Camp and Matt Czuchry, after directing the Emilia Clarke thriller Above Suspicion for Bold Films. On Wednesday night in Australia, he will receive the Lifetime Achievement honor at Oz’s AACTA Awards.

Noyce will produce Rats of Tobruk alongside DEMS Entertainment chairman John De Margheriti. The company was established by the De Margheriti family this year as a platform to finance and produce projects for film and television. The studio has committed $200 million over the next five years to develop, finance and produce content under the DEMS Entertainment banner.

“Our goal is to seek out original material and work with local and international talent to bring these stories to life. We are looking forward to working with Phillip on this incredible true story,” says De Margheriti.

On the collaboration, Noyce says, “In fellow producer John De Margheriti, I’ve found a partner with the passion and expertise to help bring to life the epic battles of my father’s comrades. The film gives me the opportunity to celebrate the bonds of love and the bravery of my parent’s generation.”

The DEMS Entertainment team includes director Vicki De Margheriti, president Adam Kline, board member David De Margheriti and founding partner Emily De Margheriti.