a SON OF Australia talks of ANARCHY

David Black chats to Andy “Gypsy” McPhee

DB – Hi everyone.  Today I am going to be chatting to Andy “Gypsy” Mc Phee.  He is well known for being in Sons of Anarchy (hence the strange title) as well as having been in many other movies.  I met Andy on Richard Wolstencroft’s set, “The Debt Collector.”

Before putting these questions together, I had a chat to Andy via online chat and phone.  So this one is going to be a different interview than most as it seems to me that it is more of a spiritual path where all past experiences have led to today.  Sort of like finding balance in the universe through trying many different things and continually evolving.  So get ready folks.


DB – Hi Andy, thanks for taking the time to chat to Oz Indie Cinema today.

Andy, your story seems to me to be one of an Aussie battler from Adelaide that went through a number of different jobs before finding acting.  In another interview that you did, it mentions that you were a pool life guard, bouncer, pro wrestler and scrap metal merchant.  I got the impression that like many of the great achievers, such as Einstein and Winston Churchill that there were many set backs before you found your path.  Can you tell me about these early days?

AP –  I was born in Melbourne and moved to Adelaide at 17.  I was a very angry child growing up.  There were things I didn’t deal with as a young child. I am a very kind loving person but the defensive anger caused many relationship breakups and caused problems with some of my kids.

I have 7 beautiful kids from different relationships.  All wonderful kids.

Started as train driver locos…

Very rebellious

Angry at something always found balance the true me but the underlying anger also found trouble                                                                       


Night clubs

Pro wrestler

Martial arts



DB – The first listing on your IMDB, from 1990, is Return Home.  How did you end up falling into acting?

AP – Acting was a saving grace something I fell into at 38 from an ad for hungry jacks.  I loved it no training just found my own way in.


DB – You’ve done quite a lot here in Australia.  Your IMDB is that full that there is only room here to list and discuss a few.  Instead of me asking, can you tell us about Wolf Creek, or Blue Healers, or McLeod’s Daughters, it might be best for me to leave it to you to tell us what the highlights were for you.

AP – I was pro wrestler and got add for hungry back as pro wrestler.  Found an agent and just went for it and work kept coming. And blessed it still does.  11 jobs in 5 months!


DB – You ended up going to live in LA and ended up in Sons of Anarchy and Criminal Minds.  Can you tell us a bit about the decision to move to LA and your experiences there?

AP – it was because of kodi he won afi.  Then we all moved and just went for it


DB – You’ve done quite a bit on Neighbours and Home and Away until 2012.  Did something change that year or soon after?  I see that you started moving from the soapies into the local indie movies after that.

AP –  not sure.  Transition I guess.  More life experiences changes us.


DB – You were telling me that all the acting experiences have led you to today.  You are now doing a number of different, related things in acting and life coaching.  Can you tell us about this?

AP – Over years of now I have started healing with myself and other relationships with family. I have my faith now I ride with bikers for Christ. I am introduction leader with landmark which was a big change in helping shift that past.  I now coach and mentor and Work Iinternationally.

Things aren’t always smooth but you have to deal with cause and have a new effect on people around you.

Currently I am in Nashville filming but will be back in Melbourne in August for more work and an actors retreat in Sept on magnetic island.

My personal battles and things I have caused have led me into my faith, my coaching, my healing and healing past relations. Which helps me mentor for others and offer chance for others to see the real person in the crap that can cover us.



Thanks for taking the time to chat to me today Andy.

Andy McPhee Imdb – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0574173/

Extras! Extras! …… read all about it!

David Black chats to a group of extras from around Australia

A few weeks back, I did a story called “Unsung Heroes”, and it really hit a chord with a lot of people.  The messages came in so hard and fast that it was like a loud, collective sigh had been released because someone had finally shone a spotlight on the crew.  Well, there is another group, far more numerous that sit at the very bottom of the pecking order on movie sets.  They don’t make the headlines unless something goes terribly wrong and they are maimed or killed.  Even worse, when depicted in TV shows, they’re just ridiculed mercilessly.  Sometimes referred to as support actors, supernumeraries, or even flesh furniture, I call them extras and am not ashamed to have been one, or too proud to do an extra spot if needed.


David teaching rolls to zombie extras for The Last Hope

In Ricky Gervias’ tv series, “Extras,” we see the rivalries between extras, the desperate toadying up to directors, producers and stars in the hope of getting some dialogue, and we cringe at the terrible treatment dished out to them.  In French and Saunders, we see grandstanding by extras so desperate for some camera time that they destroy scenes in the most spectacular way.  A google search gives you some newspaper articles that describe a bland, bottom scraping job that is bad for your self-esteem at best and absolutely soul destroying at worst.  Although there are elements of truth in these depictions, it is far from the reality.

To start off with, the job of being an extra is of vital importance.  You can’t have a convincing street scene in a movie and not see people on the sidewalk, entering buildings, buying newspapers and getting out of cars.  Even a café scene needs that hand in the foreground stirring a coffee with a spoon, the waitress walking past and a couple of people chatting away in the background.  But simply filling a scene with people isn’t going to make the scene convincing.  Without skilled background actors interacting with each other and the environment, all you have is a bunch of mannequins.

Often it’s the extras themselves reacting to the main action that guides our emotions and helps the star deliver their performance.  Just watch the 3 stooges when Moe is working with Curly or Shemp.  Larry is always there reacting to everything.  His face contorts with confusion or pain, and we find ourselves following his lead.  If you don’t believe me, just watch a scene on youtube and block out Larry.  When you watch Moe and Curly on their own, you don’t find yourself reacting as strongly.  You probably never noticed it before and a good extra often does go under the radar as they are not there to steal the scene.  That’s why they are support actors.


David Black as an extra on the set of Cult Girls

Anyway, enough of this overly long intro.  I’m chatting here today with Cullen Gorman and Sarah Griffin from South Australia, as well as Laurinda Osborne from Victoria, Will Gabriel from NSW and Simon Chamberlain from Tasmania.

DB – Hi everyone.  I’d like to start off by asking each of you to tell us a bit about your background and the films that you’ve been extras on.

Cullen – I’ve been an extra on several advertisements, many short films and also in The Babadook and the Chinese series Speed. I’ve been acting for eight years in plays, short films, independent projects, sometimes amateur work and sometimes paid, hoping to make acting my primary career.



Sarah – I’m a 17 year old student from Adelaide and I have been taking acting classes since the age of 8. Acting is my passion and so I have been getting involved with anything around Adelaide. Sometimes my age gets between certain acting opportunities for main roles so I will always ask if extras are needed. I have been cast in a short film as the lead, as well as an extra in feature films, online commercials and short films. I have also been an extra in Thom Lion’s music video, I was cast as a monkey. This was one of the greatest experiences so far.



Laurinda – I have always wanted to act and did drama in school and drama school outside of school. It wasn’t until last year I was lucky enough to get cast on a movie set as a zombie extra. I have done a range of short films, music videos and feature film shoots, playing a range of different characters.



Will – In 1983, I studied Producing and Directing at a private Film Academy affiliated with Macquarie University and AFTRS for 3 years.

I later worked in Film & Television Production as an assistant Film editor and worked for most of the TV Networks and many post production suites across Sydney from 1985 to 1999 as a Tape Operator and Editor and also worked for Fox Sports for many years as a Senior Presentation Coordinator. I ran my own production company in North Sydney from 1990 to 2000 producing and directing corporate’s and low budget TVC’s.

In 2006, I decided I needed to be serious about this and went on a search to find a challenging drama school which with no doubt I found, to say the least. After 6 years of studies I graduated in the “Meisner Technique” at an advance level in 2013.



Simon – Well I’ve been a musician for years and felt like spreading my wings a bit, and try new roles. I was in a Supernatural movie filmed in an old mental asylum, (Willow Court) where I was a guard, in the short film Alptraum. I also did Photography in a short here, called Zombie Movie, but my latest role is of a soldier in Jennifer Kent’s new movie ‘The Nightingale’ set in Tasmania in the 1820’s.



DB – What is your typical day like on set as an extra?

Cullen – Normally I arrive early, but still later than most of the crew. Then go to wardrobe, get fitted in whatever the costume may be, then get sent to a waiting area. Often I’ve been told to bring my own costume, just neat casual attire or whatever. Once in the waiting area I’ll get acquainted with the other extras and the person in charge of where we go throughout the day. Then it’s into the shooting location where we get told where to walk and where the cameras are, and when the director calls action we walk, then we reset once cut is called and continue doing that until told otherwise. Then we do the same thing at any other locations until no longer needed on set, often when it’s starting to get dark.

Sarah – Being on set as an extra is really fun and it motivates me to keep persisting with my goals of becoming an actress. Actors and crew on set are nice and are great to chat to about the industry. Being on set usually consists of a lot of waiting around for your scene to begin filming but this is great because I get a chance to be in the moment and really enjoy what I do. It’s such a great experience to see what goes on behind the camera.

Laurinda – It would depend on the shoot I am doing. But it usually includes an early start. As an extra, you can be anything from just a background extra to no lines, to extras close to the camera with a speaking line. After arriving on set, you would get into costume/make up on and go through rehearsals with the cast, before shooting commences. The shoot could last anything from a few hours to a full day of shooting.


Ummm …. the ones at the back are the extras

Will –

  • Be prepared for very long hours of just waiting.
  • Well you arrive on time if not 15 minutes earlier.
  • You meet with the 2nd & 3rd AD’s and they will brief you on the day’s procedures.
  • Fill out your tax forms and any forms necessary.
  • You then go to wardrobe & makeup if necessary. (most of the time you will be asked to bring your own selection of clothing as specified by them prior to arriving) Pain in the arse.
  • You have breakfast (crew first) as they are onset first and need to setup. Same goes for lunch and any other meal breaks. (Get over it going last)
  • You will then be briefed for OH&S procedures.
  • Then you may wait for a few hours or maybe not so long before you go on set.

(there is generally a lot of waiting, so bring a good book or your study materials, best time to get things done.

  • Many numerous long conversations with other extras.
  • Falling asleep onset waiting for something to happen (I recommend you don’t do this too often)
  • Your main role on set is “not to be seen, not BE seen”.
  • As a professional extra one of your major skills is to listen to directions for blocking and repeating this over and over again for as many takes and angles needed. Continuity is another skill you must have (replicate your exact movements every time) that makes you a professionally paid extra.
  • Do not speak to the actors as they are focusing on their role.
  • Keep quiet on set at all times. You are there to do a job not have a social event, that’s

“Show Business” but still enjoy yourself.

Simon – Make up & Costume early, sometimes a breakfast then get ready for the day’s shoot. Your always ready at short notice to go on set, as your always in costume and make up. You always remember to be quiet around the set during takes. You’ll go thru, screens a few times, then with different camera set ups, so it can be quite time consuming, but you get to help out to make the scene come to life a little, your sometimes well looked after by extra staff like hair, make up, on set, as well as catering. Sometimes, you can also be on set, many long hours.



DB – How do you feel the treatment is for an extra, compared to others on sets?

Cullen – Extras are usually overlooked by everyone, but I don’t thing we’re treated too poorly. In some films or series, like anything filming outdoors in the cold or wet, extras are last to be under a tent, as usually the tent space is taken up by the cameras and other equipment that can’t get rained on, and that’s a b it unpleasant, but usually were just there, treated decently by everyone.

Sarah – Extras are treated well and are appreciated greatly. Of course the main focus is on the stars of the shoot, which extras totally understand and so we respect all that goes on during filming.

Laurinda – – I have found that we are treated equally as respected as a main cast character but as an extra, you may not be in a many scenes or have as many lines as other characters so you are not under the pump or have much pressure put on yourself as a main cast member.

Will – Well this is a quite an open question because many have an opinion about their personal treatment on sets.  My personal experience onset was fine, just be professional at all times.   I did have some issues at times which were extreme but that’s life.

Every set will have its own challenges.  Professional conduct from both parties is imperative.

You must understand and deal with that, (you are the bottom of the chain of events, once you grasp this (even though sometimes you have every right to feel mistreated or not valued) only then will you be fine with the situation of being JUST an extra.

Simon – I felt that you’re treated fairly well on a movie set. Your part of the bigger picture, and feel accepted by all the other crew and actors. The Main cast are always friendly, and are really just trying to focus on an emotional scene or take. We just try to help convey their message, and add to the atmosphere of the scene or shot.


Laurinda as a zombie in “Dark Night of the Zomboogies”

DB – What is your best memory of being on a set as an extra?

Cullen – Honestly I’ve made so many great friends on set, so whenever I’m making my own short films or working with people who say “we need actors” I have people I can call. Also I’ve heard about multiple job opportunities through the people I’ve met, so the people you get to associate with a really the best part.

Sarah – My best memory of being on set as an extra was for the music video I did in 2016. The entire day, from start to finish was such a great experience. I was amongst professionals within the makeup, music, and film industry. My makeup was amazing and the conversations I had with the camera person, producer, musicians, and other actors were really inspirational and motivating. I didn’t want the day to end!

Laurinda – Getting to see all the behind scenes of a shoot and meeting and making friends with a range of different people!

Will –  From my 1st time on Home & Away, the main actor didn’t turn up so they asked me to do the role, which scared the crap out of me but at the same time excited and thrilled me to be given this opportunity. The cast & crew were so supportive because of the last-minute lines to learn and my nerves but we pulled it off and it went to air. I had only just started drama school 2 weeks prior.

Simon – Being a part of some great films and ideas. Getting a chance to bring that to life on screen is amazing. To work alongside great Casts and Crews. To meet and work with amazing Directors, that I’ve admired for a long time.


Sarah, as an extra, in a music video

DB – Is there any advice that you can give to film makers about how to work with extras?  By that I mean everything from recruitment to being on set to even after the film is released?

Cullen – I think the more extras on set, the better scenes are. Streets don’t look populated if the only three people in the background are the same every shot. So recruiting lots of people is very important, and while on set, having designated areas for everyone, not just extras, is essential. Providing food is nice, but not really that crucial, and its always great to hear from the Coordinator or an agent a little while after the shoot saying “come to the premiere.” It’s a sign of good faith and shows that the extras aren’t completely nameless to the higher-ups like the Director.

Sarah – My advice would be to reach out to any Facebook pages with casting calls for extras. This helps to get in touch with anyone interested and is such an easy way to build contacts for more work opportunities. When on set with extras, don’t be afraid to make conversation because everyone starts from somewhere. When the film is released, be sure to let the extras know somehow, because all extras want to show their friends and be proud of what they helped create. Even if the extra is only in one scene in the background, we want to watch it!!

Laurinda – – Always keep the extras you’ve worked with in mind when you have more shoots. We are more than willing to come back for more!

Will – Only advice choose extras well, treat them with respect and they will respect you back and give you more than you would have hoped for. Pay them, feed them well and make sure they feel valued as in “without them this film would be not great”. Be clear in your directions.

Simon – The whole process can be pretty daunting, but with lots of helpful, friendly advice from staff and crew it goes along smoothly. An extra is usually happy with the whole film making process, and very keen to see the end result.


Being an extra can be murder!

DB – In wrapping up, was there anything in particular that you wanted to say that I didn’t cover in my questions?

Cullen – I think its very important to make sure the extras are credited, I’ve been in a couple of things where I’ve scoured the credits and not found myself or anyone I was acting with. The credit is almost more important than the money, as its how people acting in extra roles can prove that they’ve been on sets and have experience, so they have more chance of being cast in bigger and better roles.

Sarah – I would like to finish with saying, we value the experience so much, so please advertise extra roles

Laurinda –  Being an extra in film is one of the best things I have done. I highly recommend that anybody thinking of doing this, do it. It’s not everyday you get to be an extra in a film. Who knows where it can lead and it’s a great opportunity to do

Will – Well I might have mentioned a few things that you didn’t in my lengthy answers already. One word it’s all about your ATTITUDE. Enjoy the ride and WHY you chose to do extras work.

Simon – Being an extra is a big responsibility but very rewarding. Sometimes you get formal training, for a certain scene. I had military training for my role in ‘The Nightingale’ and sometimes you may have a speaking role.


DB – any links you have can go here:

Sarah’s Links:

Instagram: sarahgriffinofficial

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCesQ8RH_tZk2s5bEl8eXMqQ

StarNow: https://www.starnow.com.au/sarahgriffin11

Laurinda’s Link: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm8358286/

Will’s Link: https://www.williamgabrielactor.com

Simon’s Link: https://www.starnow.com.au/simonchamberlain1

From Russia With Love

David Black interviews one of the most prolific actors of the Australian indie movie industry – Albert Goikhman!

Hi everyone. Today I am going to be chatting to one of the hardest working actors in the Australian indie movie industry.  I met Albert Goikhman a year ago on the set of “The Last Hope.”  I was still new to the industry and feeling nervous.  I’d been on the sets of “Cult Girls”, “The Perfect Nonsense” and “Universe Stellar Birth” before, but those had all happened within the previous week or two, so I hadn’t had time for much to sink in.

Albert was very welcoming and supportive to me, so I didn’t flee the shoot screaming in fear.  He was the veteran actor that everyone was looking up to.  I was the newbie and outsider, and really didn’t feel like I belonged on the set.  I think that some newer actors and extras tend to feel that they need to set the pecking order straight and establish their dominance straight up by giving the new kid a bit of shtick.


I’m not singling out “The Last Hope” either as a movie that I felt unnerved on as an extra. One “veteran” actress gave me the worst glares I’d ever seen each time I went to enter the green room on Cult Girls. It wasn’t until a later shoot, that she wasn’t on, that I was able to enter and mingle with the others.  Without Albert having been so welcoming, I might have just simply given this whole industry a miss and never discovered how much fun it can be.

Albert himself was once the newcomer too, being originally from Moscow.

DB – Hi Albert

AG – Hello David and everyone else. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be involved and share my experience.

DB – Albert, I don’t think there are any other actors in Melbourne that are active on so many sets currently, or have completed so many shoots over the last few years. What is it that motivates you and where do you get all that energy from?

AG – I seriously don’t think I work on so many sets, but I am trying to do as much as I can to support Indie Films in Melbourne. My main motivation is to get better. I work full time as oncology nurse and don’t have time to attend any classes to improve my acting skills, so I’ve decided to do more films and learn from other actors.  When I am on set, I am constantly learning by observing others or rehearsing with them, or even just watching others doing their thing.  We often discuss different acting techniques while waiting on set.  I also believe doing more films and being involved in more productions, is the great opportunity to network and meet new directors, DOPs or other crew members.  That relationship might lead to new collaborations and projects in the future. The energy is just there for me and comes from my love and passion to acting. And I wouldn’t be able to do it without support from my family.


DB – You have an extensive history in acting and showbiz that predates you coming to Australia. Did you want to give us a bit of a run down on that?

AG – I was encouraged to read a lot from a very young age.  I read a lot of books.  And we went to the theatre a lot.  And cinema as well, actually – Bollywood and French movies were really popular back in Russia when I was young.  I come from the country where every child was acting and performing since young age.  It is part of the Russian culture. We start preforming in child care in front of our families, then in primary school in front of the students and teachers.  

As you grow older, you start to choose if you are more interested in dancing, theatre or music and slowly every person does what they feel comfortable and love.  So as all others I started performing and child care.  I was very afraid and shaking every time I was asked to do so.  As I grew up, I understood that being on stage will be the best option to fight against my fear of stage.  So I started to perform more and was involved in almost every single school production.


After graduation from the secondary school in 1986, I’ve decided to become a doctor as my mum and was accepted in one of the Medical Schools.  But the passion to perform was unstoppable and I also joined theatre group at the Local Drama Theatre in city Perm where I first learnt about Stanislavsky and his Method.  In 1991 my parents and I immigrated to Israel and my acting career stopped for almost 14 years for different reasons. When I came to Australia I’ve realised that passion is waking up again and I’ve joined Slava Miller Russian Poetry Theatre in Melbourne, where I met my first voice coach Elena Michailov, who later became founder and director of Russian Melbourne Theatre Company , where I am currently involved in few shows. I’ve also attended Checkov Drama Studio in Melbourne in 2008 and 2009 where I’ve learnt Michael Checkov acting technique from Dmitry Pronin.


DB – Your first movie role in Australia was around 2010 on a Russian language film called “Deeper Than Yesterday.”  Can you tell us a bit about this?

AG – We filmed it in July-August 2009 and it was released in 2010 at Cannes Festival.  Up to date it is my best memory.  Ariel Kleiman was a 3rd year VCA student who was making a film entirely in Russian and needed some actors.  He came to Dmitry Pronin Drama studio early May 2009 to cast as he said “real rough Russians”.  After the first round of selections, I was invited to my first ever audition.  Believe me, I had no idea what I am doing, but he trusted my feelings and what I’ve learnt from all my teachers.  After workshopping few times with different actors, Ariel told us that he will be in contact and the “wait phase” has officially started.  One evening I’ve received a call from Ariel asking me to come and meet him.  It was one of those café meetings and he asked me “You’ve read a script.  What do you think about the lead character Oleg?  How do you see him?”. I’ve answered him and he said “That is exactly how I see him and I would like to offer you the role, but I want you to know that I am planning to win Cannes Film Festival with that film and you will need to help me”.  And we started long preparations for the film that later on wins more than 25 International Awards including Cannes and Sundance and was even short listed for Academy Awards.  We shot it over 4 weekends (9-10 shooting days) in extreme weather conditions.


It’s hard to describe why that film lingered for so long above the others. Perhaps it was the cinematic look of the film that makes it feel big – a contrast to its claustrophobic setting.  Filmed on a dark, cramped, decommissioned military submarine with 35mm cameras the film tells the story of a Russian crew who suffer a rather savage form of cabin fever. The soundtrack also delivers to make this project a great cinematic experience.

Despite the damned impressive craft of the film (Ariel Kleiman advised that you NEVER think of shooting on a submarine), it is this psychological complexity and moral murkiness which elevates “Deeper Than Yesterday” into the canon of modern short film. Unforgettable experience.

DB – When it comes to going over movies you have done, or are working on, you’ve got around 63 released and over 20 in pre-production, production or post production on IMDB. We both know that IMDB’s are often incomplete, so the true figure would be much higher. This means that it would be impossible for me to go over them all. Can you select a few highlights to discuss here?

AG – I’ve recently updated my Acting Resume with all my up to date films and projects and came up with a 3 numbered figure. Every film leaves a memory. It could be a person I met on set, or a script that I like, or even one shot that was created by the director of photography.  For me it’s all about the team effort that elevates the film to a higher level of success.  I don’t like myself in most of the films, as I always think I could do better and there is constant learning from every role you play. I have many films that won multiple awards in the International Festivals and can mentioned films like “Goldfields” directed by Alan King where I had to speak French, “The Disappearance of Willie Bingham” (2015) director Matthew Richards, “Nathan Loves Ricky Martin” (2016) directed by Steven Arriagada – my first film I did after I had a heart attack in October 2015, short film “Love in Motion” directed by Leanne Campbell that got me Nominated for a Best Actor in Drama at Top Indie Film Awards recently, and my appearance in “Fat Tony & Co” well known Australian TV series. But the most memorable appearance for me was in feature film “How to Time Travel” where I had to run naked in the hallway to help lead character to escape psychiatry facility. I cannot forget the look on the face of Tony Adams (my co actor in that scene), who was playing the guard and whom I had to chase.

There a few upcoming projects that I would like to mentioned to keep your eyes on: feature length films “Cult Girls” by Mark Bakaitis, “Tracy” by Derek Erskine and Naomi Lisner both in post production. And also 2 films in pre production that I am involved now: “Twisted” by Leanner Campbell, “Lucifer Killing” by Gary O’Toole and “Westermarck Effect” by Saara Lamberg.


DB – Albert, you’re in a better position than most actors to discuss the current indie movie industry in Australia, having been on more sets than anyone else I can think of. Can you share your thoughts about what we are doing? How it can be improved? Are we heading in the right direction?

AG – Australia doesn’t have anything like the studio system to help fund local productions, meaning almost every film produced locally is either a low-budget independent feature or has to jump through the multitude of cultural hoops in order to be supported by Screen Australia.

The difficulties in producing films here, there are still many that are made, but nobody watches them.  This means that filmmakers never recover their losses on a production, the crew doesn’t get paid and the production company is less likely to support them in the future meaning that group of filmmakers is much less likely to ever make a film again.

I am hoping this will change, as there is no shortage of talented people in Australia, but there is a severe shortage of money and productions getting off the ground.


Many of the Aussie films that succeed at the local box office tend to feature foreign actors.  I think if we want to resurrect Aussie Films we first of all need to re-evaluate the process by which foreign actors are cast in Aussie movies, and its outcome could determine a lot about the future of our film industry.  The simple reason of bringing in more overseas superstars is that it will mean more movies getting greenlit, more production jobs, and ultimately, a bigger share of the pie for everyone.

The problem starts with our young talents not wanting to stay in Oz land and help moving the industry forward. All of them want to go to LA or Canada. Old cliche about how Australian films are just auditions for our actors before they make it big overseas still appears to be true.


What we can do to improve it? I can suggest few things I’ve recently read in one of the blogs and totally agree with it:

1) We need to start with creating graduated process to develop filmmakers from the entry level to international. Currently, filmmakers spend their own cash to do a handful of shorts before trying to jump straight into the deep end and doing a feature, often pouring every asset they own into getting it off the ground and rarely seeing a return on that investment.  Screen Australia needs to create programs and fund several contingents of filmmakers as training programs where they can progress from making short films to making features with adequate support and the knowledge of how to do so effectively.

2) Greater support for local productions from Foxtel and Stan to create local productions with an international reach.

3) The death of festivals, like Tropfest, which encourage mediocrity and cheap comedy, and consists of a tight group of favourites that makes it difficult for other filmmakers with good stories to succeed.


4) The introduction of some kind of “apprenticeship” system for the film industry. The video production industry is massive, and constantly growing, and many of the skills on set are “trade skills” and don’t need to be learned with an expensive university degree. A formalised system of training and graduated employment for the industry could help get skilled workers into the jobs that we need on film sets to allow us to grown competent and world-class film crews.

5) Stricter requirements from funding bodies that require international productions to utilise a greater percentage of local crews in order to qualify for government funding.

6) For some reason, we keep making “dramas”, which is such a broad definition as to be meaningless, but where are our sci-fi, horrors, rom-coms, and comedies? These types of films already have established fan bases and easily understood genre tropes that engage the audience on a base level. Sure, they won’t win Academy Awards, but they get people into the cinemas and make a return on investment for the filmmakers.


7). Local distribution will almost certainly be forced to change, as it has in the US where video-on-demand and a shorter theatrical window are commonplace for independent films.

Film in the cinema is just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath there is a great proportion of people who legally — and unfortunately illegally — gets DVDs or download and watch them at a time and in a format that suits them.

According to 2011 analysis by Screen Australia, only nine per cent of all viewings of Australian films occur at the box office. The other 91 per cent are spread across TV and DVD.

DB – I’ve noticed that you’ve attended a few of the overseas film festivals that have run here too Albert. Maybe more of them than anyone else that I know. How do you feel Aussie indie films compare with the rest of the world?

AG – I think we have a very strong presence in the world of independent filmmaking.  Our films and directors are constantly recognised at the International Film Festivals. We run multiple Internationally Acclaimed Festivals like MIFF and St Kilda Film Festival.  And also Australians clearly want to watch Australian content, because they are watching it on television. But when we go up against Hollywood and try to make internationally-oriented films, we lose. And we lose because our production budgets aren’t big enough; we lose because we don’t have big enough actors to cast.

DB – Just to round up here, can you give some advice for all those actors that are new to the industry?

AG – Let me summarise it in a few points:

  1. Find a joy and follow what you love. Believe in your goals. Because if you don’t believe it, it’s definitely not going to happen.
  2. Auditioning is an opportunity to practice. Treat auditions like rehearsals
  3. Don’t try to be someone else. Draw from personal experiences to make characters different from others. We all have something special in all of us which makes us different from others. Use it for your favour.
  4. Don’t wait for casting director or agent to call you – Go ahead and produce your own work.
  5. Put faith in your director, enjoy the collaboration
  6. Explore the world outside acting. Find other creative outlets. Feed other parts of yourself. Write a script, paint, do crew jobs.


DB – Thanks for taking the time to chat to me today Albert. It’s rare that I get the chance to pick the brains of someone that has done so much in this industry in recent times.

AG – Thank you David. It was a great chat and I hope for a better future for our Local Australian Independent Film Industry.

Any links you have can go here:

1. IMDB Page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3776270/

2. Link to “Deeper Than Yesterday”: http://www.dinamagazine.com/film/short-film-deeper-yesterday-ariel-kleiman/91

3. Article in “Red” Magazine: http://redmagazine.com.au/home/albert-goikhman-the-man-who-struck-the-perfect-balance-in-life/


From America With Love

David Black talks about the great Aussie cultural cringe and interviews two American film distributors that love Aussie Movies.


One of the biggest hurdles for our local indie movie makers is the Australian public themselves.  Often, we are the ones that tear down our talent when they are at their most vulnerable early stages of their careers.  If we were to visualise this, it would be the very image of a large grotesque creature, malevolently hovering over a baby in its’ pram, face contorted with anger and disdain, mocking and jeering.  It’s not a pretty picture, but that’s how it feels to be on the receiving end of our cultural cringe.


It’s not that we don’t love Australia. We do and are proud to be Aussies.  But when it comes to the culture that we so adore being presented to the outside world, we become more like shy, self-conscious little children.  We crave the approval of our elders but somehow feel that we are inferior when this mirror is presented to us via our local film makers.  Suddenly we feel naked and vulnerable.  We see all that which makes us unique and try to destroy it as though it were some hideous monster that is out to destroy us.

Our media outlets have always been dominated by American and British films and TV shows.  It was never that we lacked the population to sustain our industry.  We could have been producing so much more and exporting it to the rest of the world.  Instead, our support of Australian films and actors has usually been only once they’ve been snapped up in the USA and sold back to us.

Today I will be talking to representatives of two media outlets in the USA that absolutely love Aussie movies and are putting their money where their mouth is by giving them a desperately needed outlet and a sanctuary from the dreaded cultural cringe and tall poppy syndrome.  Raven Christina Corvus runs Fizzy TV, in conjunction with her partner Jerome Perce.   Ron Bonk runs SRS Cinema.   Fizzy TV is a VOD site that has a whole section called “The Australian Invasion” and SRS Cinema is a motion picture production and distribution studio who specialise in national and international exploitation/ horror releases on DVD and VOD.


DB – Hi everyone.  Ron, I’ll start with a question for you.  SRS cinema has been around a long time.  Could you tell me a bit about how it all started and what you do?

Ron – First, thanks for having me.  As far as my beginnings, I started off wanting to just be a filmmaker.   I was shooting on analogue consumer brand video, and there were only two distributors I knew of for these types of movies.   Both didn’t have great reps, and one was getting out of distribution anyway.   So I launched my own distribution company to handle my work, then branched out picking up other movies.  And here we are today, 100s of movies later.


DB – Raven, Fizzy TV is a relative newcomer and mainly a VOD site at this stage.  Can you tell me about about its origins and what you are currently doing?

Raven  We started out as just shooting for our shows White Noise Paranormal and Locked Into Darkness.  We had a network contact us and wanted our series on his Roku channel.  Long story short the owner was not an honest person and no longer has his network.  We then decided to start our own network to help people like ourselves to get more exposure.  I believe if you rely on just YouTube for getting seen you’re going to get lost in the sea of cat videos.  I have seen amazing web series and short movies with only a few hundred likes, but yet a cat playing with a ball of string can get millions of views.  I feel very strongly after my experience that you need to get your work out to as many outlets as possible.  How can you expect to be seen if you don’t put it out there?

Right now Fizzy TV is still looking for fresh new content.  The cool thing about Fizzy, unlike other platforms, we will not turn anyone down.   Just because one person doesn’t like something doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t.   We do not critique, we let the masses.


On the set of White Noise Paranormal

DB – Now, to jump straight to the big question that Aussies are reading this article for….  What is it that attracted to you to Australian movies?

Ron –  I love Ozploitation movies.   Many of them are among my all-time favourite flicks – “Mad Max”, “Dead End Drive-in”, “Razorback”, etc..   These movies are original and insane, a great combo in my book.


 A couple of SRS Cinema releases

Raven – I love the Aussie movies for their cutting edge content.   I have seen some great work.   In America we are so concerned with being politically correct we are losing ourselves with the fear of offending someone.   Horror is my first love and right now YouTube will not monetize anything horror because they feel that their advertisers will not approve.   I LOVE the Aussie horror shorts we have on Fizzy.

DB – Are you surprised to hear that it is common for Australians to be embarrassed by Aussie films?  So much so that the term, “cultural cringe” is virtually a cliché here?

Ron – Yes, I was at first, I would have expected them to be embraced by their natives, but I’ve seen this before… culture rejecting an art form, then later will often “discover” and embrace it.   The same thing happened with shot on video movies by and large.  They were hated by so many in the 90s when they were being made, now underground horror fans seek them out, celebrate them, sometimes pay crazy amounts of money to own them, especially if they never made it to DVD. 


Ron Bonk

Raven – I was really shocked when I heard from a few people in Australia tell me that.   I can’t really wrap my head around that.  Why would anyone be ashamed of their own culture?   You would think that it would be embraced and proud.   It’s not like the content is below par, in fact it is above most that I see in the states.


Raven Christina Corvus

DB – How have your current subscribers/ customers responded to the addition of Australian movies to your catalogue?

Ron – Well we just acquired our first ones from Nathan Hill and it’ll be a bit before we start the various releases of it… but I’m hoping they embrace them as much as I do.  I’d love to bring more underground Australian horrors to North America and the rest of the world.


Tomboys – A Nathan Hill movie

Raven – I love that we have an Aussie Invasion section.   We have many viewers that come just to Fizzy for that reason.   I feel that the Aussie movies are up and coming and we are ahead of the curve.   The amount of traffic to Fizzy exploded when we first started getting the Aussie content.   We want to keep that up!


DB – What are your future plans and do they include increasing your distribution of Australian movies?

Ron – – I’m just always on the lookout for cool horror flicks, films with a good story and a healthy heaping of gore.   I don’t always get every movie I want, but there’s plenty out there so I never seem to run short.  I’m hoping Nathan’s movies do well with us and word spreads to other underground filmmakers in his country.   I’d really like to see the imports expand, we’ve released movies from Germany and Japan this past year, and there’s more interesting overseas pictures to come.


RavenThe future of Fizzy is always developing and making it a great experience for the end user.   We are always updating all of our platforms.   We are lucky that we have a programmer that is a co-owner so Fizzy is always getting up to date features.

Of course we are always looking for more content.   In the states people LOVE international films, web series etc.   We want to have a large and growing selection for our viewers to keep them coming back.   It’s like with any VOD site when you are checking regularly for new content.


DB – Do you have any advice for Australian film makers?

Ron – Yes, don’t hold back… go as crazy as you want to with your story, add as much gore as you can, shoot on (at least) HD, take your time to make a well made movie with strong acting and good sound, so nothing holds us back from make it every bit as successful as it deserves to be!


 Empire State of the Dead – an SRS movie

Raven – I would just have to say don’t create for others, create for yourself.   We have seem to lost that art of the camera being your eye and what you see.

There are still hurdles in this industry.   For me, believe it or not, it’s being female. Not many people seem to pay attention that I actually DO film.   I have been filming, along with Jerome, for White Noise for many years.   I am trying to branch out of the reality tv genre with a new web horror series.   To all of the women filmographers out there… make yourself seen and heard loud! We do exist.

DB – Thanks Ron and Christina for chatting to me today and sharing your insights.  Many of the readers here are going to be wanting to visit your sites and see what you do.  Could you please give me some links that they can check out?

RB – – Sure please look up SRS Cinema on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and swing by the site www.srscinema.com.  We have awesome underground horror flicks from all over the world – support them as much as movies from your own country… all these filmmakers are in it together and need your support. 


RCC – I am the owner of Fizzy Tv www.fizzy.tv.

I am the director and producer of White Noise Paranormal www.whitenoiseparanormal.com, Locked Into Darkness www.lockedintodarkness.com and Small Planet, all can be seen on Fizzy TV.

If you are interested in adding your content on Fizzy you can e-mail me at ravencorvus@hotmail.com.

Kudos and Cronyism


Opening night at the 34th St Kilda Film Festival seemed magical at first glance.  The grand old Palais theatre that hosted the affair is just breathtaking.  Shimmering across its’ face and highlighted by moving spotlights, the name of the festival was proclaimed for all to see.  At street level, a horde of photographers and cinematographers milled around the red carpet, while an ever growing crowd waited patiently for the doors to open.  This was my first ever St Kilda Film Festival opening night, and I was excited!


I got there super early, which is why my blurry photos don’t actually show the big crowds I saw later on.  Apologies for that, but I still feel new to the indie movie scene and sometimes even feel like an impostor with the small successes that I’ve had in such a short time.  I’m still learning about what attracts movie makers to the whole festival circuit.

I can understand that it’s exhilarating to see your film on the big screen and experience that audience reaction.  Many film makers crave the kudos of earning laurels for the selection and dream of picking up a trophy.  In the case of the St Kilda Film Festival, there are also cash prizes if you win certain categories.   Many enter festivals in the hope that international buyers will see their short movies and make an offer to have them developed into a feature.


I went to a few of the local festivals last year, including Melbourne Underground Film Festival, Made In Melbourne Film Festival and the Warrandyte Film Feast.  In the case of the latter, the first short movie I’d ever released had been accepted, and so I earned laurels for “Dark Night of the Zomboogies”,  got to see it on a big screen and experience the audience reaction.  It was all just for a bit of fun because I didn’t expect there would be international buyers there or a horde from the press ready to cover my little film.


Opening night at the St Kilda Film Festival was a totally different affair to a small country film festival, so I can imagine people taking this very seriously.  The very claim that they will be showing Australia’s top 100 short films is a biggie, so you’d hope that every effort would be made to ensure that there is a strong element of truth to it.  I wouldn’t hold them to this being 100% true as not everyone that made a short film in Australia would have entered, but I would expect that there would be fairness in the selection.  I couldn’t say that any of the film festivals I attended last year were 100% true to their claims anyway.  I saw people managing to multiple vote on people’s choice at at least one of them — and win, despite feeling that another film had been head and shoulders above the winner.  That particular film festival had a bit of an anarchic feel to it anyway.  This had a far more organised, formal and establishment feel to it.  You would be right to expect far more.

The St Kilda Film Festival opening night was packed out!   It was not a snooty, nose in the air affair either.  The crowd seemed to be refreshingly down to earth.  I listened into a few conversations before the doors opened and many seemed to be true film lovers.  Some were familiar faces from the local indie movie industry, while others were there because they attend many of Melbourne’s cultural events.  A few were even St Kilda locals.  The most common topic of conversation though was how long the speeches at the start of the night went on for last year.  Fortunately, they seemed interesting and brief for this one.  I especially enjoyed the “welcome to my land” type speech from a representative of the local Aboriginal tribe.


There were a lot of advertisements from sponsors, such as Screen Australia, Film Victoria and local businesses.  I didn’t feel that sitting through advertisements, as though this was free to air tv was necessary. The opening night was packed and the claim on the festival website is that 3,000 would be there.  I don’t know what that number of people looks like but the Palais claim a capacity of around 2,800.  If those numbers are anywhere near accurate, then ticket sales would have been in the order of $100,000, so selling so many advertisements seemed like a money grab to me.  Even if the numbers had just been 300, then we would still talking about more than enough money raised that a simple slide showing the sponsors would have sufficed.  Between film makers paying to enter, business paying for advertising, government sponsorship …… the film festival people seem to know how to turn a buck.

I had intended to write reviews on each of the films shown, rather than knock the festival for being good at raising revenue, but I really struggled to sit through most of the films.  I’ve seen far better at just the regular local movie nights over the last year. None of the films shown were crappy, but not a single one was fantastic.  Yet, there they were on the big screen on the opening night.  I noticed that most had been funded by various bodies such as Screen Australia and Film Victoria, so I just got that sinking feeling that I was witnessing old school, establishment cronyism.  It can’t possibly be that the best short films made across Australia over the last year are mainly the ones that were funded by the night’s sponsors?


The first of the films was “Graham Kennedy: The King of TV.”  It was just a 3 minute snippet of a bigger film and I loved it.  I have something near identical on an old vhs video.  This looked like the tv special from years ago.  It might have been there for other reasons, but I don’t consider a tv show to be a short movie by local movie makers.

The second up was “Pillars”.  I think it was about suicide?  It just took forever it to get anywhere.  It eventually did, but if this was on the web where people can just turn off, they wouldn’t sit through it.  There was an enjoyable animation called “Fish With Legs.”  I loved it but it wasn’t head and shoulders above anything I’ve seen locally in animation over the last year.  It was simply ok.  The rest of the films pretty much dragged on like that.  I just didn’t feel that they were the knock out, wow movies that I was expecting for the top 100 short Aussie films of the last 12 months.  I’ve already seen far better and these were fairly pale by comparison.  Thematically, the selection may have been influenced by left wing sympathies as we saw films about prejudice, suicide, refugees…I was getting the feeling that to be selected, you had to be pushing for some sort of social change or highlighting a popular issue.  There was not a zombie to be seen!


There was one notable exception to all of this.  “The Eleven O’Clock”, directed/ produced by Derin Seale.  It was last on the list and had the feel of many of the movies that I’ve loved seeing at the local indie movie nights. I didn’t notice anything in the end credits saying that it was funded by one of the night’s sponsors, but I don’t know. The crowd was leaving in small groups during this film and often there were people walking through my line of view.  That couldn’t have been due to the film being bad because it was one of the only ones to keep me engaged throughout.  I’ve noticed people do leave after their film has shown on many of the movie nights, so I am guessing that being last on the list that they fell victim to that.

In fairness to the festival though, I must say that the free workshops they are providing over the next week and the opportunity for film makers to see their projects on the big screen is fantastic.  Yes, the film festival is needed.  Aside from the  money grabbing activities of raking in from every source, including over 100k for the opening night and then handing back 40k in prizes, and the dubious selection of opening night films, on the whole, it is worthwhile.

Will I go next year?  Probably.  It’s not hypocrisy because I accept that this is the way of the world and have seen that true talent always finds a way to shine through the darkness.

Unsung Heroes

The invisible people that make every shoot happen

David Black chats to four hard working crew members

Hi everyone. Most articles on movies cover the actors or directors. The audience certainly notices them when the credits roll, but buried deep at the very end, when people are leaving, whizzing past in a blur, are a myriad of strange crew positions such as best boy, gaffer, grip, dop etc. The first thing that struck me when I entered my first big set with Cult Girls wasn’t the director or the actors. It was the crew! All were busy scurrying around like ants, in deep concentration, surrounded by strange items of equipment of all shapes and sizes. It was like having landed on Moon Base Alpha!

As I got onto set after set, the first thing I’d see was that anonymous legion, slaving away in silence, making everything run smoothly.


Most directors will only be making one feature film a year, with maybe a few short films in between. Actors tend to appear on a few more sets but extras can be on a different set every day. It was as an extra that I started to notice all these crew and often saw the same faces on shoot after shoot. Without this dedicated, silent horde, the Indie Industry in Melbourne would be non existent. Often, these people are on the set hours before the actors and then are packing up long after most have left.

Today, I am going to speak to four of the people that I’ve worked with many times now and greatly admire. Glen Cook – gaffer, Dia Taylor – director/ writer/ producer/ dop/ actress/ 1st AD/ production manager …. basically a high class hamburger with the lot, Alex Zemtsov – Camera and Emma Rose – sfx mua (aka The Queen of Gore!)


Hi Glen, Dia, Alex and Emma Rose. I have 5 questions to ask you all. I need you to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. There shall be no evasion, equivocation or mental reservation. OK?


Glen  – photo by Stewart Fairweather

DB – What was it that got you into being involved with indie movies?

Glen – I don’t think I set out originally to make “Indie” movies as such, I just wanted to make films full stop. It started many years ago when I saw a film called Star Wars. It was one of those moments that changed my life and I knew that was what I wanted to do, without a doubt. Unfortunately life had other ideas for me, and so many years later when I came to having a career change, it was my first choice because the passion for it has never died. I did film school and then put myself out there as so many new film makers do. My past work experience had me doing producing and 1st AD often, and I wasn’t happy with that. Eventually I ended up on lighting which was fine. You get to work closely with camera and are creative in a way setting up lighting that plays a crucial role in the end result of a film, and while its all happening you can see how everyone else works on set as well. I started on some very grass roots level stuff before working on the largest indie film, and film generally to date, The Legend of Ben Hall, where I met up with veteran gaffer, Colin Williams, who has been in the game for the past 45 years. That accelerated my learning curve and path into this industry.

Dia – My Aunt I’d have to say. When I was a kid she used to get me on her indie sets as a runner or 2nd AD or even just to watch and I loved the atmosphere and the people so much I just knew that it was something I had to continue with and I did.

Alex – It’s pretty simple; I just wanted to make things. Doing things, making things, that’s the best way to learn and grow as a filmmaker, or any kind of artist, really. You also meet heaps of like-minded people, get involved in more projects, and everything snowballs from there.

Emma Rose – I’ve been a makeup artist for about five years always with the goal of working on films because I’m a geek. It was luck really, a friend who is also a big horror fan recommend me for a film and I’ve been working on indies since.



DB – What is your usual day like on set?

Glen – Every day is different, depending on the shoot and what the scene requires. Some of the smallest shoots, usually the grass roots ones where they use a DSLR, ask for, and make use of the smallest amount of lighting to get them by. I may be asked by a very inexperienced camera operator what could be done to make a scene look better. So in this situation maybe a little bit of bounce, or neg fill, or perhaps some rim lighting. This isn’t always the case though, sometimes a grass roots film may have someone with a great deal of experience, or it is a night shoot which can involve a lot of lighting work. The other extreme can be a much bigger film that requires only bounce and neg fill for their lighting, which adds a little bit but isn’t much work. So the variety is endless. Some days it is exceedingly busy and I will pull everything out to be used, strung from the ceiling, and other days I will use virtually nothing.

Dia – A- It pretty much depends on what my role is. Usually everything is already pre-planned – from shots to times and even where actors will stand. When I’m in charge of a set – usually as AD, Director, or Producer I like to have a little welcome to the crew – get them to know each other a little before fully jumping into it, because a crew is essentially a family during the shoot.

Alex – No way I can answer this one, because it’s different every day. Variety is one of the things I love most about this industry – one day, I could be filming parkour artists fighting in a forest, doing flips and shit, and the next, a pizza themed monster provocatively whispering “puh-puh-puh-pizza time” in someone’s ear.

Emma Rose – I usually wake up at some ungodly hour and travel to melbourne, I’m usually nervous and going over the script etc but once I get to set there are always some familiar faces I’ve worked with previously. I set up wherever I can (which is sometimes in a car or on the street or in the bush!) and then start working. There’s usually a lot of down time for me once I’ve done the makeup and just need to do touch ups or wait for makeup changes, I like to watch the filming usually if I can and attempt to help with anything else. A lot of the time I work through lunch and have mine after as the actors often need work in that time before starting again. It’s always a long day but so much fun and interesting watching how everyone works. I generally end the day with blood on my clothes honestly!



DB – What is your most amazing memory of working on a local indie movie?

Glen – There are so many, it’s hard to pick just one. The most recent shoot I was on we were in a 24th floor apartment with commanding views of the bay and the city of Melbourne. For the four days we were there, we had the most brilliant views as the sun set and all the colours of the city came out. It was just pure magic.

Another was when I was on the Legend of Ben Hall, and it was the first day of shooting and we were filming a few scenes that are actually at the end of the film. I have always known the story of Ben Hall, and I was on this shoot because I was excited to see his story told. So I was there and we were filming a scene with John Gillbert, and I looked up into the bush and there was Jack Martin, as the character Ben Hall. He was very much in character and he just came quietly down to see what was going on and parked himself under a tree. It seriously had the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, living history!

Another funny moment was when I shot a very small Indie film called “Dark Night of the Zomboogies. I had arrived at the venue busting for a pee, so it was my first point of call. Upon exiting to wash my hands, I was accosted by two women who looked and were dressed for a much better venue. One was an absolute stunner! Like who were these girls and why on earth were they there? I had a film screening there that night and that had its run, and while I was talking about the film, I noticed these girls still there. Clearly they were lost right? No they were there as extras for the small shoot that was going to happen.


Later I was asked by the Director to actually be in this little film. I have a face that was made for the other side of the camera, and so trying to get out of it, I said “sure no worries, find me someone to make out with!” I was dead certain I had gotten out of this. David the Director hurried off and a short time later, he returned with my kissing victim. Well needless to say, he not only found someone who was happy to kiss me, but turned out to be the hottest girl in the place that I had seen earlier as well. My bluff was called and thus it was captured on film. That certainly worked out well in my favour.

Dia – A- That’s a tough one honestly. I’ve met so many of my best friends on sets it’s hard to say. My fav memory of all time would have to be one in particular though.

Our lead actress had left a valuable prop at her home one day, a day that we needed it.

We didn’t realize we needed it until she was already here. Luckily another crew member lived very close to her and had not left yet so we asked him to break into her house (with her permission) to get it.

Anyway he broke into the wrong house hahahaha. No harm done though.

Alex– Once, we set off a smoke detector and accidentally evacuated a whole apartment building. We were running a haze machine the whole day, which the location owner had assured us would be fine. Turns out it was not. One of my favourite shots in the film was done with a member of the fire department standing JUST outside of frame having words with our producer.

At one point, before the firemen had shown up, we sent someone outside to fetch something at a nearby convenience store, unaware that the building was in lockdown. They did not return, so we sent someone else out to go find them. They did not return either. It was like something out of a horror film.

Emma Rose – Anything working with Black Forest Films, they’re my film family and we all just click. They are so welcoming and chill and just get shit done. Everyone helps with everything, everyone lugs gear around, everyone has input and ideas. Filming The Viper’s Hex in Japan was probably the best experience of my life.


DB – What is your assessment of the Australian indie movie industry today?

Glen – The Indie industry is pretty much the bulk of the industry in this country. Sure there are plenty of American productions that come over here, but there are countless films being made from the grass roots all the way up to small budget of 1 mil or so. I think this will always be the case in this country as there are very little funds going. We don’t have a big studio system like the US had or in India, so it is literally whatever you can do for yourself to make it happen and without that Studio system, its what makes it “Indie”

Dia – A- We have so much talent out there, so many new and great ideas just flowing. Sometimes I just feel like people need to focus more on story than production tricks and camera movements.

Alex– There certainly isn’t much money in film in Australia, but who ever decided they wanted to become a filmmaker just so they can make money?! Indie films, in not being dictated by an overarching need to make a profit, are some of the most creative around, and dozens are being made every week – from big, well publicized productions that everyone has heard about, to that one brilliant student film with 50 views on Vimeo that deserves a lot more. And sure, there’s a lot of bad stuff out there, but amongst that you can find some genuinely unique work that’s definitely worth seeing.

Emma Rose- Honestly, there’s so much talent but not enough of the films being made are actually seen or given the credit they deserve. It’s all passion and film makers putting their often very little money into their dreams. It’s so hard for these artists to break through. They don’t all want to make generically Australian films and shouldn’t have to to be recognised.


Emma Rose

DB – where do you feel our indie industry is heading?

Glen– I think the industry is still going to be here and still doing what it does for the time being. Unless funding and support for the arts changes and there is a bigger focus on how films are made and we start trying to compete with the rest of the world, there is always going to be an Indie industry. Actually having said that, There will always be an Indie industry because it is where we all start from

Dia – A- Honestly I can’t really say. It’s constantly shifting. The people I work with today I didn’t work with five years ago. I guess now with Netflix and many internet streaming sites out there filmmakers have many more ways of being viewed. The possibilities are endless. I just think the indie scene will keep growing.

Alex– Don’t think I can say. The great thing about indie films is that anyone can make anything. This means that they can go in any direction just about instantly, if sparked by a good enough idea.

Emma Rose– I’m not sure, I’d like to be optimistic and there’s definitely talent in it but a lot of work needs to be done I think.



Thanks everyone for chatting to me today. Normally its me running around being told what to do by you guys, so I hope I didn’t come across as being too bossy. Really. If I offended, I really didn’t mean to. OK?

You can see Dia Taylors movies here – http://www.youtube.com/diataylorofficial/

And Emma Rose’s make up page is here – https://www.facebook.com/Emmarosemua  

And the wacky shit Alex Zemtsov makes with his friends – https://www.youtube.com/c/kinosalad

Turkey Shoot (1982) aka Escape 2000, aka Blood Camp Thatcher – Movie Review

By David Black

Hi Everyone.  Today I’m going to be reviewing a movie from the golden age of Ozploitation films. Turkey Shoot came out in 1982 during the time when the Australian film tax exemption scheme, 10BA, offered generous tax incentives to encourage the creation of local movies.  The 1970’s and ‘80’s saw many low budget cult movies being made such as Mad Max, Dead End Drive In and Razorback.  It was an exciting time and many of today’s local indie movie directors can only dream of having budgets of 2-6 million dollars.

Although some movie fans feel that we’ve had our heyday and choose to live in the past, I believe that Aussie indie cinema is currently going through another explosion of creativity.  One actor who bridges the eras is Roger Ward. Roger was in Mad Max and plays “chief guard Ritter” in Turkey Shoot.  He is also active in today’s Indie movies.  Turkey Shoot was remade in 2014 where Roger played “the dictator.” I asked Roger if he could say a few words to lead into my review on the 1982 version.


RW – As far as Turkey Shoot is concerned, It was just a damned good fun shoot.  We shot in Cairns for about 4 weeks. I was unsure of the end result, as one is with all films, Mad Max included, you just do the best you can, with what you have in the way of script and crew, and hope for the best. Not that the end result, good or bad made any difference to us actors as we only ever received residuals when we shot with the yanks, the Aussies never gave them, not up until this date anyway, but a good actor, or dedicated one, will never walk through his part, and for that I am grateful, for one was unaware during those days, 30, 40 years ago that those films we were working on would be cult films today.

DB – Can I use that at the start of the article? Its’ well written.


RW – Sure, use it if it will help.  You could also mention that there is talk of 20 or so pages of the script being ripped up owing to budgetary constraints, that is true, but it hardly made a difference to the directing skills of Brian Trenchard Smith with whom I had worked throughout his early days, on doco’s and shorts and who has a very creative and intelligent mind and could probably make a block buster from the telephone book.  So while the statement is true, it had no effect on the end result of the film, just a little difference in the story line.

DB – your character in Turkey Shoot was such a strong character.  I remember the indie comic, “The Dazzling Career of Gary Goo Goo Gillespie” having a tennis coach in military gear that was a dead ringer for your character.  The page was drawn by Dave De Vries.


RW – I’d like to see that, the tennis coach thing.  But this www is amazing to see the characters from all over the world that dress like some of the characters I’ve played.  In fact I went to Japan last year for a Mad Max Convention and was met by three Fifi look alikes, all Japanese.  Quite a sight but nice.

DB – How do you feel that the indie movie industry today compares with film industry back when Dead End Drive In, Turkey Shoot and Mad Max were being made?

RW – In answer to your question Indie Movie today etc… I was only saying to Richard Wolstoncroft who wrote and directed Debt Collector, that the indie industry is emulating those glory days that I mentioned earlier, the 70’s with Stone and The Man From Hong Kong, Irishman and Mad Max. The 80’s with Turkey Shoot and Quigley Down Under, in fact in those days we were going from one film to the next and then it died.  But now, within the last 2 years I’ve chalked up, six films and I have two more to go this year, so I have a bubbly feeling that there is light on the other side of the tunnel that we’ve been in filmicly since the end of the 80’s

DB – thanks for helping me out there. I’ve been a big fan ever since I saw Turkey Shoot. But I have to admit that I went to see it initially because I had a crush on Lynda Stoner.


Wikipedia introduces Turkey Shoot as follows: “Turkey Shoot, also known as Escape 2000 and Blood Camp Thatcher, is a 1982 Australian dystopian exploitation-horror film directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith and starring Steve Railsback, Olivia Hussey and Michael Craig. The cast is a mix of international actors, Australian soap opera actors and television personalities.”

After that, it gives away too much of the film and the last thing I want to do in this review is give spoilers. I just want to say enough to do it justice and then let you see the movie for yourself.  Before I saw it at the cinema, about all I’d seen was the trailer on the tv.

IMDB describes the movie as – “Deviants are held at a rehabilitation fortress until they’re set into a deadly game of survival, in the hopes of returning to world society.”, and that’s probably enough background.


Turkey Shoot certainly is a wild, new world order/ totalitarian, dystopian movie.  It starts off with the usual break down of society scenes taken from news footage. This is during the opening credits though, so it is enough to set the scene without getting us bogged down into the same type of opening that many other movies have since used. Despite this type of introduction having since become cliche`d, in it’s day, this was pretty amazing and even now it still gets my heart racing.


If you’re looking for a movie with all the action, guns, explosions and way out characters of Mad Max 2, then Turkey Shoot will not disappoint. Rather than a desert setting with a run down oil refinery, we’re in the jungle this time with a futuristic prison camp. This gives us the perfect opportunity to have the obligatory nudie shower scene. You can’t have a decent exploitation movie without boobs and gore. And this one has both, as well as a great big hairy mutant!


Turkey shoot is well paced, keeping you involved by moving through different scenarios whilst always keeping the tension and cruelty coming. It’s edited well, so you can easily follow the movie.  The jungle scenes make Tarzan movies seem a bit lame as our main characters are pursued relentlessly and fired on by all manner of weapons by a larger than life group of over privileged, sadistic, nobles.


Interestingly, a lot of reviews I came across panned the film. Even actors within the movie described it as grotesque. This was possibly due to the gore and cruelty of the time. By today’s standards, it’s a bit tame in those areas. Shows such as The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones have well surpassed this in gore. Game of Thrones, Spartacus and a few bazillion other shows are way heavier than Turkey Shoot when it comes to nudity. I think this attitude really comes down to Australians themselves.


I went through this same bullshit when I was a cartoonist trying to sell my comic, “Punkz In Space.” Australian newspaper editors would be afraid that the idea of punks in a comic could be offensive. Within a couple of years, The Simpsons, Ren & Stimpy and others were flooding the Aussie market and Punkz in Space seemed very innocent. Turkey shoot is not some third rate grotesque movie. The only thing bad is our cultural cringe.


As far as the Ozploitation tag goes, I can only say that it was Ozploitation in its day. If it came out today, and from the USA, it probably wouldn’t get the “exploitation” tag at all.


Stand out performances are by Roger Ward, Lynda Stoner and Noel Ferrier. The one drawback I found was the usage of overseas actors that so many Aussie directors feel are needed if they wish to sell their movies internationally. I really couldn’t say that Olivia Hussey or Steve Railsback brought anything special to the movie. Both were good, but it’s our the local actors that really shone through. This isn’t a dig at overseas actors.


There were plenty of locals, such as Gus Mercurio, that were born overseas and settled here. I just felt that Olivia and Steve were patchy in their performances.  As the movie goes on, they really come into their own and deliver some amazing scenes, however, they start off so wooden that some viewers might be tempted to just turn the movie off.  All up, the movie is an enjoyable watch from beginning to end. In fact, if you are into Aussie movies and like a bit of sci fi/ action, then Turkey Shoot is a must see.


The Horrors of Pre-Production!

A look behind the scenes of an indie production, by David Black

Hi everyone. Once again, I haven’t found the time to get a few pieces in reserve to keep the Oz Indie Cinema stories, reviews and interviews running to deadline.  I feel a bit embarrassed but I do have an excuse. I was so amazed at all the activity and fantastic shoots happening within the local indie movie industry that I got involved in everything that I could. Some of this included creating my own projects. And that brings us to my blog update today.

One of the things I’ve been working on is called Horror House. It’s a hosted horror show that is reminiscent of the old ones with all the bad taste jokes and props. Australia used to have these in most states. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane all had one called Deadly Earnest.  It was a different actor in each state and the characters they played varied quite a bit, despite all using the same name. The shows ran from around 1961 – 1978 and were very popular. I chose to have two hosts for my show. Count Funghoula and Mistress Boobiyana.

The reason why I decided to create a horror show was due to seeing so many local short horror movies that were amazing. Most only had youtube as an outlet and were unlikely to get onto tv or be released on dvd due to being too short. I thought that if there was an old style hosted horror show, then these could be grouped together and put into a half hour or one hour episode. I mentioned this on my facebook as a status update and the idea just took off.  Before I knew it, I had all the talent needed for the show to go ahead.

The amount of work that goes into creating something like this is substantial.  It was just mind blowing as to how much time goes into pre-production, in order to create a few short minutes of footage.  This project deepened my appreciation for all of those local films that I’ve seen.  I’m hoping that by going over some of this, that it will help deepen your appreciation too.


The first thing that I did was to commission an animated intro and outro for the series.  I felt that to get local film makers to give me their best work that I would need something spectacular to show them.  I went with Lorne Colt as the animator, and we worked remotely via email and facebook. This process took around a couple of weeks. The music in the intro was taken from an instrumental section from one of my Darkness Visible songs.

The next step was to look for short movies.  I put messages up on a number of the facebook groups that are dedicated to the local indie movie industry.  To select the films for just the pilot show was another 3 weeks.  It was fun to chat to so many film makers and watch their movies, but, it wasn’t all beer and skittles.  I did get the odd film maker that was not happy that they didn’t make selection.  So I made a few friends and gained a few enemies.  I was advised by so many colleagues that have been working at the higher levels of this industry for years that you have to develop a thick skin if you want to be a director/ producer, and I’m working on that.

Whilst I was selecting the movies and writing the script, I was putting together the cast and crew.  Most that work in this industry at the indie level do so on a volunteer basis. That doesn’t mean that the project was going to have zero cost as the animation was already a few hundred dollars.  I recruited the cast and crew over a few nights.  I’d end up in long discussions with this one or that one, until late in the night over the next few weeks to get all the workflows and deadlines together, as well as getting people working with each other.

There’s a long line of tasks that need doing on a project like this and each person does their bit and passes it onto the next.  It only takes one person not coming through and one work flow can get jammed up, causing delays in many other areas. Yep, I had this problem too, and ended up having to replace my original co host. This resulted in another person upset, more fights, false accusations and the loss of friends that I’d introduced to her, who just couldn’t accept that I was now a director and had a job to do.

By this stage, I was really starting to appreciate the blood, sweat and tears of local film makers and understand some of their war stories of difficulty with cast and crew.   I didn’t quite get to the nervous break down stage, like some, but this was just a one day shoot and not a full feature film.

It was a learning curve for me to realise that I should have had auditions and then made short lists. With anyone selected, I should have followed up with the directors they’d worked with before to make sure that they were professional in their behaviour.  I realised that you can’t just do a movie and give friends parts if you want to have a decent chance of having a smoothly run project that will be produced to a professional level.

Once the previously cast hostess had been replaced, things moved into high gear. The new Mistress Boobiyana was Tritia DeViSha.  She is an award winning actress, seasoned presenter, producer, as well as a writer/director/filmmaker.   Tritia immediately got us rehearsing, filming the practice runs, re scripting and discussing props.  We were able to share the footage to the work group where the crew were able to decide what equipment they would need and their methods of shooting it. I was now getting a better understanding of how much more needs to be done and the way to do it.

Discussions of make up and costume now got underway and it was probably a week or two of the make up artist discussing in chat the ideas with Trish and I.  Sketches and pics were exchanged, discussed and altered.  By the time we went to shoot, we knew what we were doing there but were ready to make whatever alterations would be needed on the day.  And as usual, things do change. There is a helluva lot of thinking on your feet that goes on as you have to accommodate things that just didn’t quite go to plan.

For a week before the big day, I was moving stuff out of my lounge room, getting props together, keeping contact with everyone and even arranging extra helpers for the day.  Even then, on shoot day, there was heaps to do, but we transformed a lounge room into a movie set and got our footage done.  All up, I would say the amount of hours I put in alone would equate to two weeks full time, jammed into after hours.  Costs involved would have been around $600 – $700 . And that is just pre-production and the one day shoot.  There is still post production to go.


*Update – Horror House has been accepted by Foxtel Aurora to run in early 2018!  More updates will be available on their facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/HorrorHouseShow/


A new actors experience

The following article is re-blogged from the Indie Activity blog, with permission http://www.indieactivity.com .  It is an interview with me.   So far, all the interviews I’ve done have been with people who have been around a long time and achieved a lot.  I think this one will give a nice contrast.


David Black started his acting career by doing a role as a cult guard on horror feature movie, Cult Girls. It certainly was an experience too. David Black remembers getting to the film location and seeing cranes, dollies, giant lights and a few stars, like Jane Badler from V. Prior to this he’d been in a theatrical horror rock band called Darkness Visible since 1994 and although he has produced, directed and appeared in 9 music videos, David Black didn’t really feel connected to the movie industry before, so Cult Girls was the start and Darkness Visible has been something that gave him the experience to make a movie career take off. After Cult Girls, it seemed like David was in one movie after movie. Universe – Stellar Birth, The Perfect Nonsense, The Last Hope, Order of the Wolf, Scene Through My Eyes, The Resurgence ….. David Black went from extra to featured extra to cast in what seemed like a very short time. This was followed by writing, producing and directing his own short movies. It’s been regular progress from extra to actor to director. Each time, it’s’ been a baby step up, but it’s also been at a breakneck pace too.

Did you study what you do
I didn’t really study for what I am doing now, unless you count having been in stage plays at school. So far, everything I’ve learned has been on the job. I have worked with many experienced people so I’ve always had someone there to guide and advise me. One of the brilliant things about the indie movie industry in Melbourne is that there are a lot of supportive people. As long as you haven’t bitten off more than you can chew and its just a little bit of advice or guidance here and there, you’ll find that there is always someone to help — as long as you have networked well, that is.


What is your filmmaking process
I didn’t go to a school, so I don’t have a name for my process. I started learning from my very first music video. That one was a simple one. We had a studio recording of the song, “Flesh” and I teed up a couple of camera guys to come to a gig, film it and edit it. The follow up clip was a bit more complicated. I had the recording of “I Nehemia” and an idea that there had to be travel in it. So I wrote a script where the band are the travellers, going to a gig. I booked a horse carriage ride in the city for one night, a boat at Studley House Boat House for another night, found a spot at St Kilda beach for one shoot and a bit of bushland for another, arranged a venue to do a gig. I advertised for a month or so for 30 extras and set up live photography and booth photography at the venue. In organising this, every single step seemed like common sense. It was a case of – what do we need to shoot this and then arranging it. It was only after Cult Girls and working with movie industry people that I started to learn the terminologies and processes of the movie industry.

Tell us about the work you have produced
I’ve produced 9 music videos for Darkness Visible. The first 8 can be found on I Bleed Indie for free. http://ibleedindie.com/category/music-videos/ . The 9th one, Breaking Point, is soon to be released and you can find all the information on the Breaking Point page – https://www.facebook.com/BreakingPointVideo . Movie industry wise, I’ve produced 2 segments for Shane Ryan’s “Ted Bundy had a Son.” I wrote, directed, produced, filmed and acted in one segment. It was a found footage piece of a man going to his girlfriends place and the two finding all her house mates dead. The main filming was by Alex Zemtsov with my iphone footage being cut in. As a follow up, I co-wrote, produced and acted in another segment where the boyfriend is interrogated for the murders. This one was directed and filmed by Steve Russell.


After this, I wrote, co directed and was an extra in Dark Night of the Zomboogies. This was one of those things that I just fell into. It was intended to be a throwaway piece to be filmed at the end of the Boogie Nights movie industry night in Abbotsford. The idea was just do do a film shoot quickly there for fun in order to bring more people to the night. Well, we really did have to shoot the whole movie in just 2 hours, with lots of restrictions, such as not being bothering patrons — which means no recorded dialogue due to not being able to call “Quiet on Set.” Well, that one grew! We had a pro sound crew from Soundworks in India that wanted to do a sound track. It then debuted at the Warrandyte Film Feast, within a week of being completed and did well there. It also is going out as a bonus extra on SRS Cinema’s release of “Peek a boo, then I strangle you.” And if that wasn’t surprising enough, it is going onto a horror show that goes onto Foxtel and Ch 41 in Adelaide.

Other projects that I am working on are not finished yet, but there is Daemonic Twist – a coming of age horror/ comedy to highlight youth suicide. Drugs ‘n Dildo’s, a comedy web series about what happens when a retired horror actor moves into the Dunshaftin Nursing Home for retired Porn Stars. And last, a series of short movies called “Obsessions of a Shattered Psyche” that is based on the series of short stories of the same name that I had published in the 1990’s in Dark Angel Magazine.

Do you take courses to improve your craft
I’ve been learning on the job, as mentioned, but I have spent quite some time reading about the industry online.


How do you combine acting and writing
If I’ve written the project that I’m acting in, then it’s a natural process because I already have the character living in my head before the script is even broken down. I suppose it changes somewhat according to who I am working with and how the characters interact. I hadn’t really thought of how to combine both because once a project starts, it pretty much go, go, go, and a lot is done on auto pilot.

How did you get into the film business
I mentioned Cult Girls earlier and my band, Darkness Visible. Those two are linked. The director of Cult Girls, Mark Bakaitis, is also in a band called Psych Carni. I’d known Mark for years through his band. Our bands both played locally within the same scene and I’d probably booked them at a night I ran called “The 3rd Degree.” I didn’t know that Mark was even better known as a director and had made numerous movies, documentaries and music videos. Mark asked me to be an extra in his movie, Cult Girls, and that’s pretty much where it all took off.

There were earlier things such as doing extra spots for some tv shows that were filmed in my street in the 980’s and an extra spot in feature movie back in the 1990’s, but once again, I didn’t feel connected to anything from them.I just turned up, did what I was told and left. There were no explanations of the movie making process and no connections to anyone afterward. One thing hadn’t led to another either. Cult Girls really was the start of feeling that I was a part of the industry. It was where I met people and was offered more roles. It got the ball rolling and that ball hasn’t stopped yet.


How do you turn an idea into a screenplay
I’ve only done short movies so far, so I couldn’t say. The longest script I’ve written is 25 minutes. I wrote the idea down in brief, then worked out where it needed to go and broke it down to 10 main scenes. When you know what you want to achieve in a scene and have broken something down to  something that small, then it becomes easier. Once they are altogether, you just read through to make sure they all fit together and flow.’ I will be doing a feature movie for Obsessions of a Shattered Psyche, but the approach there will be to join ten short stories together, as chapters, to make the movie. Each story is sequential and using the same characters.

Explain your writing process
I start out with a sentence or two of the main idea. With Daemonic Twist, I wanted a movie to highlight youth suicide. That meant that I needed someone young who was going to be contemplating suicide. From there, I thought, who are the people that surround this person. Family, school friends etc. I then spent time on thinking
about what I could do to make this movie different and interesting. How all the different ideas came to me and then gelled together is beyond me. It was like the script wrote itself. In fact, the same could be said for all the other scripts I wrote as well. I have no idea how ideas come and why they come in floods.

What writing tip or idea can you give young writers
Just start. Don’t worry if you have made a mess with it. It’s from the messes that you start learning.

What do you want to change about the film business
Rather than change the industry, I want to learn more about it so that I can do better with getting funding, building a following and getting distribution.

What do you want to be remembered for
I’m not worried about being remembered. I think that in a world of 7 billion people that anyone believing that they should be remembered after death is being a bit arrogant.Life is for living and if I make a movie that is enjoyed by people today, then that is enough.



Justin Dix — Star Wars, Hunters, Charlotte’s Web and The Bank Job!


DB – Hi again everyone.  Today, I’m talking to Justin Dix, the founder of Wicked of Oz studios.  Justin has created award winning prosthetic makeup effects, props, miniatures, animatronic characters and set pieces for feature films and television.  Some of the big name movies he’s worked on are Star Wars Episodes 2 & 3 (Attack of the Clones and Revenge of Sith), Charlotte’s Web and The Bank Job.  He is also one of the hardest working people in the industry that I’ve seen.  The sheer amount of projects that he’s been on and the quality of work has totally blown my mind! Hi Justin.

JD- Hi David, thanks for the introduction, it does feel like I have done a lot in a lot of different fields, possibly due to having a lot of experience in multiple areas of film making.  Before wanting to write, produce and direct I always wanted to be a special effects makeup artist.  Pre internet I collected every movie magazine and book I could, Starlog, Fangoria, you name it.  I absorbed as much as I could and taught myself FX and Miniatures, but I always felt that films and the US film industry was a universe away, on a pedestal I could never reach.

Like many effects people of my time, Rick Baker and Rob Bottin whom I idolised, I helped out friends who were making films, and I did this for years.  It was a great proving ground and no risk way of learning, and as information was scarce, you had to make up a lot of what you were doing yourself, come up with your own methods and techniques.


DB – Justin, most of the really amazing special effects that I’ve seen come out of Australia in recent times have come from your studio.  There is such a wide variety too.  Can you tell us a bit about the different things that you create?

JD – The goal with my studio Wicked of Oz has to remain malleable, to not just be exclusively a special effects makeup studio, I’m happy to try anything, regardless if we had never done it before.  In fact, it is still evolving, today we are primarily a film production studio, developing projects of mine or others to produce, all the effects and miniature experience only adds to our skill set and manages to produce bang for our buck.

I primarily like to do as much in the camera effects as possible, from creature suits, to miniature set and vehicles and prosthetic makeup, it helps with everything from the actor’s performance to getting a gritty and tangible realism that can’t be achieved without a fifty million dollar VFX budget.

I think it was when the second pirates of the Caribbean came out and I saw those CGI make-up of Davey Jones and his crew, I was looking at the screen and was trying to work out which bits were real and which bits were digital as it was some of the best silicone makeup I’d ever seen, then, when I found out the entire thing was digital, my first thought was, practical effects are dead.  I really did, I know a lot of other people did too.  That’s when I thought that you need to evolve to survive and I focused my attention on scripts and production to produce my own projects, ones that embraced old school techniques including miniatures and fx makeup.

But old school techniques didn’t die out, in fact there has been a resurgence of late, with big films like the Force Awakens which have actively promoted and called attention that they are back to old school methods.  This is what I want to do with my own films but also to anything I work on for anyone else.  In fact, I had the great fortune to show (Super Producer) Gale Ann Hurd a mood piece I’d done for one of my films called Declassified that was made in a day, with no VFX and utilizing miniatures and practical effects she was blown away saying ‘Now that’s film making’.


DB – Most here are dying to hear about your involvement in Star Wars.  You were a Droid Technician in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of Sith.

JD – I do consider myself one of the luckiest people when it comes to joining the film industry ‘Officially’, when I say officially, I mean getting paid to work in film.  Prior to that I was doing lots of stuff on lots of other people’s films for free, including Dan Armstrong whom you interviewed recently. Dan and I go way back, like twenty-five years, and are good friends.

Star Wars was my introduction into the film industry, and it was huge.  Not only was I lucky enough to work on the film, I feel I got the perfect job, in the perfect department, which was the droid unit.  Mainly because it was a very small unit, only five of us, and I was pretty much responsible for the aesthetics and manufacturing of the robots and parts in that unit.   There are far too many stories to go into but I lived out a Star Wars fans fantasy almost every day. Including becoming friends with Anthony Daniels and have memories that my twelve-year-old self would never have believed possible.

One story that remains an incredible memory is actually not when we were filming but when we used to meet and greet kids and their families for make a wish foundations or other charities. I would bring the families into a studio where we had set up R2-D2 and C3-PO resting near a couple of full sized space ships, I’d do the usual shtick ‘Who know who these robots are’ the kids and parents would all scream out, but then I would go to the back of 3-PO and flick a switch, his lights would go on and he’d greet them all, then bang R2’s head waking him up.  To see the expression of not only the kids but their parents was unforgettable and it projected me back to when I was a ten-year-old looking at the Star Wars poster at the movie theatre, and to this day those parents still probably did not realize that it was actually Anthony Daniels inside the suit (the actual C3-PO), he was a very giving that way and it made us all feel incredible.

As I was fortunate enough to have Star Wars episode 2 as the first professional feature film I ever worked on, I thought I would walk away with all the secrets that had been locked away behind studio gates of how to make films, I thought I would walk away with an inextinguishable euphoria that could never be extinguished, but, it was different to what I thought it was going to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, it was my childhood dream come true, but it also made me understand how inefficient and wasteful the film industry was, in my mind I thought, no wonder these things cost 150 million dollars, there must be a better way.

It’s actually back then, in 2001 that I started writing my very first feature film, and since then I’ve written a dozen more, some with writing partners and some without, some of those scripts I’ve sold, one I’ve made and some I’m still developing.  Ironically, while I sit here in LA writing this interview and churning up memories of my ride so far, the film I started writing on Star Wars back in 2001 will be my next production, in fact when I return to Australia we are jumping straight into it.  It’s the film that will take everything I’ve learned and the relationships I’ve forged over the years, to do.


DB – After Star Wars, between 2008 – 2012, you did quite a few spots as a special fx make-up artist on shorts, such as Forged, Storm Warning, Dying Breed, The Loved Ones, Lake Mungo, Long Weekend, Gates of Hell, Beautiful, Damned by Dawn, Red Hill, 100 Bloody Acres, FH2: Faghag2000, and more.  That is one helluva pace!  We won’t be able to cover all of those in just this one article, but can you tell me the highlights and how some of them might have challenged you, and others helped hone your skills for your own later projects.

JD – In between those projects listed I worked on developing my own projects, obviously writing the scripts but also creating artwork, makeup test, production design, and I started traveling back and forth to LA to learn the next part of film making, how to get a project made, that is the hardest part of film making, ask anyone!

As far as some of the previous projects that have come through Wicked of Oz’s door I’d say the Loved Ones and 100 Bloody Acres were my favourite, and it’s not to do with the effects we did for them, although we are very proud of the work, it’s the people and ultimately the directors you work with which can make a film an enjoyable experience.

The Loved Ones director Sean Byrne and I hit it off straight away, I could tell he had a vision for the film and that vision was going to be crazy and unique, and it was, I loved the finished product, I really loved it and was so proud of it.  Even if a film is not your own, when you have an experience like that you take some sort of ownership, you feel like you’ve contributed and without you it would not have been what it was.  Every crew member on any film wants to feel like that, that’s why we do it, sure, it’s a job, but it can be more than that, and those are the memories and moments that make you continue in an industry that is super competitive and possibly one of the hardest jobs there is.  I know some people will think it’s glamorous, and sometimes it is, but if you’re not super passionate about it and willing to work harder than you have worked before, it’s not for you.

The other project that is one of my favourites is 100 Bloody Acres, for the Cairnes brothers, it was the first film I did with them, Scare Campaign being the second. Those lads are like looking in a mirror, we’ve seen, loved and learned from all the same films in the 80’s golden era.  To work with them is a pure joy, I not only want to give them everything they want on a smaller budget, but they allow me to go that extra mile.  I know they will feel that I am doing them a huge favour but it’s reciprocal, by letting me off the leash, they are allowing me to experiment and to run around in the playground that I love dearly.


DB – In 2012, you directed and was a producer on the award winning feature, Crawlspace — a horror/ mystery/ sci-fi. 

JD – My first feature film Crawlspace came from a film making frame of mind, ‘What can I make with the recourse’s at my disposal for a small budget’ But, I ended up making a film that was punching way above its weight.  I have a lot of other scripts but they are kind of all epics.  I know a lot of people when faced with budget restrictions will write a film set in one room, that’s kind of what I did with Crawlspace, although that room happens to be the underground tunnels of a top secret facility in the middle of the Australian desert.  Funny thing is, in the end, we had 16 sets in the largest sound stage at the Dockland studios in Melbourne, I used to say we were the smallest show in the biggest shed.

I’ve mentioned it before but I’m a huge fan of all films 80’s, it was my era and it influences everything I love to do. Crawlspace was very much my love letter to this period, influenced by Alien, Scanners and The Thing just to name a few.  As my directorial debut I’m uber proud of it and I still love to watch it, part of this is because I fell in love with my cast, prior to the project I did not know them, but afterwards and to this day I call them friends.  That’s what the film industry does, it created mini families that are bound together by an intense shared experience, and if that experience was a joyful one, those friendships last a lifetime.

It’s been five years since Crawlspace and I do get asked why I have not made another film since then, the easy way to answer is that I have been, multiple one, they just that they never went got up to production.  I’ve been in 3 yearlong contracts with various production of mine that I’ve written.  Declassified was the first, literally after finishing Crawlspace I came to LA with the finished product under my arm, screened it and sold it to distributors, from there got an agent and manager pretty quickly and from then a meeting a Fox whom loved and contracted me to make Declassified, my head was spinning I thought I was living the Hollywood dream, but after a year of rewrites, we still had not made it, unfortunately when in a contract with someone like Fox your kind of stuck in limbo bound to that project and unable to do anything else.

I’ve done this several times, chasing the Hollywood dream, and also since making Crawlspace I’ve worked on other people’s film like 100 Bloody acres and NBC’s series, Hunters, and last year and going into this one I was working on a huge Chinese production for 9 months and so on which has absorbed another few years. So when you add it all up, five years just flew by.

But, with all that behind me and understanding the perils and pitfalls and putting it all down to a learning experience, I see the road ahead and it looks ‘Indie’ and it looks bright.


DB -I still consider myself a newcomer to the local film industry and the first I saw of your work was some amazing pics from the recent series, Hunters.  Hunters was a pretty big one that aired on the  Syfy channel.  This one had slimy things with veins, cadavers and all sorts of stuff that you just don’t tend to see much of in local movies — at least not in this quantity and quality.  Can you tell me a bit about the various things you created for Hunters?

JD – Hunters was an unexpected experience, I happen to be in LA when I got a call from Australia asking if Wicked of Oz would be interested in doing the effects for the show, they briefed me about it and I was super excited by the possibility but ultimately I said I’m not really interested in doing effects on other people’s shows any more and more interested in developing my own projects.

They then asked if I wouldn’t mind meeting the producer who was also in LA, Gale Ann Hurd. Well, now they really had my interest. ‘ Absolutely I’ll meet Gale!’ So I met her the next day at Valhalla Pictures which alone in an intimidating experience.  The walls are lined with movies that shaped who I am, from Terminator, Aliens and the Abyss, this was a woman I’ve always admired and never thought I’d get to meet, let alone work with.

As nervous as I was, Gale and I got along great, in fact we talked more about my own projects I even showed her a mood piece I made for one of my underwater project which she loved. We finally got around to talking about Hunters and I walked away from the meeting elated, I was on cloud nine, but still not really wanting to jump on a show that would suck up another year of my life not working on something of my own.  But that’s when I got the call, ‘Gale was very impressed and what’s to know if you’d like to Co-produce on Hunters as well as have Wicked of Oz do the effects.  Well, that was a different story, so of course I excepted and it was back to Australia to work on one of the most intense productions I’ve ever worked on, basically TV is a different animal to film, don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but it was like making four feature films all that the same time.

What I loved about Hunters which was similar to previous films I’d done, we’d been given a lot of latitude to do and come up with whatever we wanted, obviously within the parameters of the scripts, but we came up with new gags and went practical where possible and did not default to digital.  I even ended up directing some 2nd unit for an alien planet battle sequence which was ultimately trimmed down to fit within the running time, but it was a thrill to do regardless. I was very proud of my whole Wicked of Oz team.

DB – You have quite a few projects in development at the moment. Amongst them is Aries, Declassified, High Moon, The Colony, Blood Vessel and Riding Hood. Can you tell us anything about them?

JD – Wicked of Oz has a lot of productions in development, all of them genre as that is my love, and all of them utilizing what I have in my bag of tricks from practical effects to minatures.  Again, the hardest part of film making is finding the finance.  I heard a saying that the longest distance in the world is the between a person’s mouth and their wallet, it is so true.  Getting a film up can be the most disheartening thing to do when you have that burning desire to tell your stories and bring them to fruition.

It is very easy to be seduced by shiny new things, opportunities that present themselves but ultimately end up absorbing your very precious time.  The one piece of advice that I give often is ‘Take what is in front of you’ the problem is in the past I have not taken this advice myself.

As far as the projects that I do have in what I active development, there are a few that I have spent a lot of time on, getting virtually up to the stage of ‘ready to go’ from concept and production design, effects makeup tests, budgeted and scheduled, to fully storyboarded. That is the main goal for any independent filmmaker, just do as much as you can now without the burden of a production schedule looming over you, not only is there no pressure but everything you do now will serve you later.  It’s all in the planning, planning, planning.

I can say that I’ll be going into production soon on my next film, in fact this year, you’ll have to watch this space.

My future goals are to make Wicked of Oz the premiere genre production studio in Australia, at this moment I can’t think of anyone else doing it in our country, and with my background, not only bring the projects I already have in development to audiences, but I hope to help facilitate a new generation of genre film makers in the future, I know it sounds like a big goal, but I’ve always dreamed big, funny thing is my reality always seems to exceed my dreams, so I’m very optimistic.

DB – Thanks for taking the time to chat to me Justin.  Any links you would like to share can go in here: