Unit Manager, Kim
Gladman, with her Dad,
Graeme "Snowy" Bostock, our on-set security guard.
Photo by Wendy McDougall.
end of the first week of the shoot, my husband
(screenwriter and co producer David Roach) came home
clearly very impressed with the remarkably competent
women on the set.
‘What am I, chopped liver?” I thought to myself.
Just exactly what kind of competency did these women
‘Oh you know, they fix generators, they climb
rigging, they drive trucks,’ he said with
So I decided to go and check them out.
And sure enough, they are Hill 60’s Secret Weapon.
Leader of the pack is unit manager KIM GLADMAN ,
aptly named because she is always cheerful, no
matter how tough the conditions. A self-confessed
nurturer whom others call Earth Mother, you‘ll see
Kim sweeping floors in punishing heat, happily
cleaning toilets in a dusty paddock, doing anything
that needs doing around the place to keep it ticking
over smoothly. She is the only female unit manager
in Australia and while her work uniform is shorts,
boots, and a number 55 Rough Rider Akubra she
replaces every year, she wears a different pear of
earrings every day ‘as my one concession to being
Her most important equipment on set is the coffee
machine on the back of one of her trucks. ‘That is
top priority’ she confirms. ‘Without that, the shoot
would grind (forgive the pun) to a halt. She gets
her coffee from a company in Albany called The Naked
Bean and makes a mean latte.
Kim started in the film business twenty years ago as
a driver, having grown up on the family gold and
sapphire mine near Cooktown. (Her father, Graeme
‘Snowy’ Bostock, is Hill 60’s on set security
guard.) Growing up around machinery from an early
age, it was inevitable that she would end up driving
trucks. ‘The mining industry likes hiring women
because we are generally gentler on the gear,
there’s less wear and tear,' says Kim who enjoys a
bit of bush mechanic tinkering with engines.
1993 a film called The Penal Colony, starring Ray
Liotta, came to the Atherton Tablelands. The
production company used skips hired from Kim’s
father’s business. ‘I had to empty out the rubbish’
says Kim ‘and when the unit manager, Tic Carroll,
needed a driver for one of the trucks back to
Sydney, he asked me and gave me my break into the
Kim’s company, Ironbark Holdings, owns 8 trucks that
she and her husband Ron built together, including
Hill 60’s make up and wardrobe trucks.
Kim’s biggest gig so far was working on Baz
Luhrmann’s Australia. “I was second in command on
that, with forty five trucks at base camp. I ran the
set in Bowen, then Darwin, then Cunnunnurra and I
had to provide shade, water and toilets for
everyone. It was massive. I love the big productions
like Mission Impossible 2 and Wolverine,’ says Kim
who loves logistics and admits that at home she is a
fierce list maker and neat freak, which can’t be
easy as the mother of four children under the age of
thirteen (two of whom accompanied her to Albany for
the recent shoot of Tim Winton’s Lochie Leonard,
where they were extras).
Fool’s Gold, a romantic caper starring Kate Hudson
and Matthew McConaughey presented special
challenges.‘ We were on water virtually the whole
time for a fifteen week shoot. We slept on cruise
ships off Lizard island and had barges of food, and
had to freeze all our rubbish and take it off site.’
Phil Noyce’s The Quiet American was the only time
when she’s cried on set ‘ because suddenly I could
not communicate with my crew, who were all
Vietnamese and it was terribly frustrating, as we
did not have enough interpreters.’ she says. And the
film she wishes she’d worked on ? ‘Braveheart!’ Kim
says, without hesitation. ‘I’d like to work with Mel
just once, so I am holding out for Mad Max Four!’
As if all this were not enough, Kim has a hydroponic
lettuce business and a barramundi farm above Port
Douglas, where she and her family live on one
hundred and fifty acres. To relax, she loves taking
the children camping at Lake Tinaroo. ’ We catch
yabbies and cook in camp ovens. I love teaching the
kids that stuff, it’s the nurturer in me coming out
again,’ says Kim, who is looking forward to going
home for a few months when Hill 60 wraps. ‘I never
know what the next job is until the phone rings’
says Kim, before being summoned to go and check out
a power problem. Before I know it, she’s round the
back of a truck, checking cables and the generator.
All is right again within minutes.
Competent. It’s the understatement of the year.