Australian zombie film gearing up for production

Travelers are often admonished not to drink the local water, but it’s not usually a matter of life and death. In the case of Waterborne, an Australian short film project, death is most certainly a possibility.

Set in the rural farmlands, the movie takes place during a time of drought.

“Years of environmental degradation have caused a mutated algae in the local water supply – something that has horrifying effects not just in humans, but animals too,” explained producer Marisa Brown. “The local ranger, Todd, has long held concerns about the quality of the water supply, despite the cynicism of a local farmer. But once darkness falls, both men are about to find out just the serious this situation has come.”

Fans of Australian film and theater will probably recognize Don Bridges playing the role of the farmer. “Don’s been a performer in the Australian theatre, TV films since the 70s, and he’s a very familiar face in Australia, so it’s quite amazing that he’s signed on,” Brown said.

The role of Todd went to emerging actor named Martin Blum. Martin graduated from the VCA (one of Australia’s top acting schools) and has appeared in some amazing theater, both in Australia and internationally, Brown said.

If the concept art is any indication, the film will offer something that has never been seen in a zombie movie: A zombie kangaroo. While a zombie-roo might seem like a no brainer in an Australian movie, early ideas for the animal cast were something completely different.

“We knew that we wanted to have a really unusual zombie animal in the short film, so originally it was going to be a zombie cow, since the film is set in rural Australia. However, we realized that there was a low-budget indie feature from Ireland from about ten years ago that had a zombie cow – and we really wanted to do something unique,” Brown said. “Given we’d been discussing ways to tap into the overseas market, the idea of the zombie-roo was discussed. Initially we weren’t quite sure it would work, but once we did some concept art it was clear that we were onto something pretty unusual. And surprisingly enough, no other films out there have used a zombie kangaroo.”

Once the art was done, the question became how to bring the zombie-roo to life. Or at least what passes for life when you’re dealing with an undead marsupial. Brown said CGI was considered, but in the end the choice was to develop a puppet instead.

“We discussed the options for a very long time but decided that at the end of the day, shooting with an actual creature is much more satisfying than building everything with CGI,” she said.

A special effects team is already at work designing the zombie-roo, but producers are going to be looking for zombie fans to help make it a reality.

“We’ve got some incredible SFX artists on board who have started designing the roo – but as you can imagine, these things are expensive,” Brown said. “So our crowdfunding campaign will hopefully raise the funds to cover the puppet’s construction.”

The crowdsourcing effort will be a 30 day, all or nothing campaign on Indiegogo. The link is http://igg.me/at/waterbornemovie.

Brown said if the public comes together and raises more than the $15,000 goal, the rest of the funds will be used to add in some CGI elements that “will allow us to make the zombie-roo attack scenes even more amazing.”

Those pitching in will be rewarded with a number of perks including postcards and badges, digital and DVD copies of the film, posters, t-shirts, zombiefied photos of the donors, concept artwork, zombie limbs signed by the cast and crew – and even producer credits.

“We hope we’ve got something awesome to match everyone’s budget,” Brown said.

Filming is scheduled to take place over five days at the end of April. Brown said the cast and crew will be heading to the small country town of Numurkah in Victoria.

“Numurkah is actually our director’s home town, so we’ve been overwhelmed by the support that the community has given this project,” Brown said.

Post production will follow and the plan is to have the short finished around mid-year – in time to send it off for screening on the film festival circuit. Festival screenings will be the only way to see the film initially, unless you’ve helped fund the project.

“Anyone who contributes $25 or more to our crowdfunding campaign will get a digital copy of the film,” Brown said. “And for our Melbourne-based backers, we’ll be having a zombie-party to celebrate once we’ve finished the film.”

Brown said the film will likely be available to view online after it completes it festival run.

While the Waterborne short project is expected to result in a film only eight minutes long, there is hope that the zombie-roo will have a life beyond the short in a full-length feature.

“We view it as a ‘prequel’ to the feature film – it’s set very much in the same world, and probably only a day before the main outbreak starts,” Brown said. “Hopefully it will give our audience a good idea of the tone and style of the feature, and draw some attention towards getting the feature up and running.”

The project’s Facebook page is www.facebook.com/waterbornemovie and its twitter is @waterbornemovie.

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