On July 20 1969 a radio telescope in the middle of a sheep paddock in Australia played a major part in history. As Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon, the scientists at the Parkes Telescope in New South Wales transmitted the pictures worldwide, briefly uniting an audience of 600 million in adventure and hope.

The story of Parkes' involvement in the Apollo 11 mission is not widely known but a new Australian film, 'The Dish', has elevated the telescope and town beyond the status of a footnote. Made by the creative team behind the hit comedy 'The Castle', it follows the crew at Parkes as they prepare for the lunar walk. Led by paternal scientist Cliff Buxton (Sam Neill), the Parkes' team expects to serve as back-up to a telescope in the US, but last minute hitches thrust Cliff and his staff into the spotlight.

Directed by Rob Sitch, 'The Dish' is an endearing look at a moment in time when the world became a smaller place. Using historical fact as the starting point for feelgreat comedy, it lovingly recreates the characters and quirks of 1960's life as a small outback community struggle to comprehend the global drama unfolding on their doorstep. Here, producer and screenwriter Tom Gleisner and actor Tom Long discuss the film.

Harry Guerin