If Skippy the Bush Kangaroo is your idea of a good night in, then look away now!
Zombie films are making a comeback in modern cinema, so it was only natural it seems to make the progression from mutant people to murderous marsupials.
Introducing Waterborne – a short horror/zombie film written by Melbourne writers Ryan Coonan and Richard Barcaricchio, and directed by Coonan.
Set in a small country town where years of drought, flood & fluctuating environmental conditions have taken their toll, a local ranger finds an unidentified algae overwhelming the water supply. He knows that something’s not right, but it’s not until the sun goes down that he discovers the true extent of the danger. It seems the town is about to experience the effects of a bacteria that turns not only humans – but animals too – into zombies!
Not even Australia’s iconic mammal the Kangaroo was safe, and if the film stills alone are anything to go by, the result is terrifying.
I caught up with writer/director Ryan Coonan to talk about his crazy concept, crowd-funding and turning kangaroos into man-eating monsters…
Firstly, where an earth did the idea come from to make a film about zombie animals?
There is something terrifying about zombies, the undead relentlessly pursuing you, never tiring, never giving up; add animals into that mix and everything changes – for the worst. Kangaroos may not be traditionally the scariest of animals, however having grown up in country Victoria I have seen the aggression they are capable off. The idea of us as humans suddenly being included on their dinner list is both ridiculous and frightening. As soon as we starting discussing the possibilities of zombified marauding marsupials it was clear our head villain had to be a zombie kangaroo.
What drew you to making a horror/zombie film? Is it a genre you’ve worked in before?
I’ve been making short films for 10 years, always with the hope that you can make the leap into features at some point. I had previously made a zombie film named Numurkah, that garnered some interest in developing it into a feature project. That experience set me on the path of the undead in the search for the right story elements to base a feature on.
Along with the brand new Aussie horror flick Plague, zombies seem to be making a resurgence. Can we expect to see more in Australian cinema, do you think?
I think zombie films tap into our distrust of the system, our scepticism of government and our powerlessness to make any changes. As long as these elements are in the forefront of humanities psyche – I think zombie films will find an audience.
What is Waterborne about? You’ve said it’s a “prequel”. Can we expect another film anytime soon?
Waterborne was always intended as a proof of concept project for a feature film. We always wanted it to stand alone, however the intention was definitely to use it as a calling card to obtain interest in a feature. At this stage we are still trying to put together all the pieces to get the feature off the ground.
Tell us about the famous ‘Zombieroo’. Please tell me it’s not Skippy? We haven’t seen him for a while, I’m worried… haha
We like to call our Zombieroo “Rippy” not skippy. He or she (I’m not sure of the sex) is the amazing work of Larry Van Duynhnoven. Larry and the incredible team at Third Eye FX are the wonderful and talented guys behind the design and construction of our zombieroo. It wasn’t an easy process, but the results were magnificent.
Who is the cast? Have we seen them before?
Don Bridges is a very well known Australian actor across film, TV and theatre. We were so lucky that someone of his stature, professionalism and talent joined our production. Martin Blum is an outstanding actor who has been working solidly across theatre and TV, its only a matter of time before the world recognises his talent and he becomes a household name. Both cast members were brilliant and helped make the film what it is.
When and where did you film Waterborne?
Waterborne was shot near my hometown of Numurkah in rural Victoria. It’s also the location of my previous zombie short titled Numurkah.
Explain the crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo?
We were always keen to try and build an audience for this film as early as possible. Crowd-funding offers way more than cash. It’s a platform for engaging people around a project. In fact I would say that the biggest thing we gained from the crowd-funding campaign was the support of people keen to see the project get off the ground. The money helped too.
How did Octopod Films come onboard?
I fist met Octopod a few years ago when I was trying to get a low budget feature off the ground. We met and clicked and have been a team ever since, and it’s crazy to think that we have only created one 9 minute film together. It feels like we have been producing stuff for the last three years! Chris and Marisa of Octopod have worked harder and longer than anyone.
Without Octopod there would be no film. Marisa Brown as the producer made this film happen and Chris Tomkins took on so many key roles in this production that I have forgotten half of them. Filmmaking is undoubtedly a collaborative art and you couldn’t ask for better collaborators then Octopod.
Waterborne has been doing the rounds on the international festival circuit. Where are some of the places it’s screened at here and overseas? How’s that going?
It has screened at…
Fantasia International Film Festival, August 2014, Montreal, CA
Dublin Eurocon, August 2014, Dublin Ireland
Fantastic Fest, September 2014, Austin TX
Telluride Horror Show, October 2014, Telluride CO
Mile High Horror Film Festival, October 2014, Denver, CO
Horrible Imaginings Film Fest, October 2014, San Diego CA
Film Fete, October 2014, Biloxi, MS – nominated Ryan Coonan – Best Director – Short; WINNER, BEST ZOMBIE MICROSHORT
Oshkosh Horror Film Festival, Wisconsin, USA
Sitges Fantastic Film Festival, Sitges, Spain
RazorReel Fantastic Film Festival, Belgium
New Orleans Horror Film Festival, New Orleans
Three Corpse Circus, Ann Arbour, MI
Morbido Fantastic Film Festival, Mexico
Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival, Saskatoon, Canada
Abertoir Film Festival, Wales – WINNER, BEST SHORT FILM
Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, San Diego, CA
Oshkosh Film Festival, Oshkosh
Terror Film Festival, Philidelphia
Spooky Movie Film Festival, Washington, DC
Zompire Film Festival, Portland, OR – HONOURABLE MENTION, THE ULTIMATE CROWD-PLEASER
Northwest Horror Film Festival, Seattle, WA
Freakshow Film Festival, Orlando, Florida
Dirt Poor Film Festival, Knoxville
Salty Horror Film Festival, Salt Lake City, Utah
Open Wound Horror Film Festival, New Mexico, WINNER – BEST MEDIUM LENGTH HORROR SHORT
Fargo Fantastic Film Festival, Fargo, USA
New York Horror Film Festival, NYC
Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival, Kenmore, NY – WINNER – BEST INTERNATIONAL HORROR SHORT
Phoenix Fearcon, Phoenix, AZ
Monsterfest, Melbourne, Australia – WINNER, BEST AUSTRALIAN SHORT FILM
Knoxville Horror Film Festival, Knoxville, USA
Drunken Zombie Film Festival, Peoria, IL
Leeds International Film Festival, UK
Tricities International Fantastic Film Festival, WA, USA
Geek Short Film Festival, South Carolina, USA
Buried Alive Film Festival, Atlanta, USA
Vivisections International Horror Shorts, Philedelphia, USA
Flickerfest, Sydney, Australia
Horror-on-Sea, Essex, UK
Flickerfest Melbourne Tour
Young at Heart Film Festival, NSW
Imagine Film Festival, Netherlands
Florida Film Festival, Florida, USA
St Kilda Film Festival, Melbourne, Australia
Cellulart Short Film Festival, Germany
American Horror Film Festival, Lafayette, Indiana
Stanley Film Festival, CO
We’ve been very lucky to have played in so many amazing festivals. With the online launch we will bring the films festival run to an end – but it’s been a fun ride!
Finally, what would your tips be to surviving a zombie apocalypse?
Head for the bush, find somewhere near some farmland with a supply of readily accessible food and resources. Away from people and away from kangaroos. Worst case, you become a zombie at least you wont have to worry about work on Monday!
For more info on Waterborne and the incredible people who helped make this happen:
Watch the entire short film Waterborne below: