By Chris Post
With nearly all mainstream movies and television productions grinding to a halt in the face of the expanding Covid-19 pandemic, people looking for zombie viewing entertainment are turning to independent producers.
One of those producers is Biddy O’Loughlin, a young Australian filmmaker whose short film “A Zombie Took My Dingo” recently made its internet debut on YouTube. Set near Alice Springs, the film is a brief look at a meth-fueled zombie outbreak in the outback.
O’Loughlin, who wrote, acted and directed “A Zombie Took My Dingo,” has been working on various Australian projects for several years and started this one back in 2018.
“ I met a German couple [Lukas Hofmann and Malu Linke] a few months before the shoot. I was volunteering on a short film in Darwin,” O’Loughlin said. “I loved working with them – they spoke fluent film – and when they said they’d be interested in driving down to help me make ‘A Zombie Took My Dingo’ in September I couldn’t believe my luck.”
With the help of Hofmann and Linke, the project came together during a four-day shoot at the end of September 2018.
“I’d been doing the whole pre production by myself until they came down two weeks before production and took a lot of weight off my shoulders,” O’Loughlin said. “I couldn’t have made it without them. They believed in me, artistically, and that helped me realise this film the way I imagined.”
Like Hofmann and Linke, the lead make-up artist was actually another person who O’Loughlin hadn’t known for long prior to making the film.
“Funnily enough I met an Irish girl called Aoife Murray in my hometown and I told her I was making a zombie film and she said she was a makeup artist – and that she specialised in Zombies!” O’Loughlin said, adding that she was very pleased with the results. “Her makeup was fantastic.”
When it came to the zombie gore, O’Loughlin called on an old friend to lend a hand.
“My mate Pirate was the ‘Gore Specialist’ and he and Aoife made me a latex belly filled with Kangaroo guts,” O’Loughlin said, alluding to a scene in the film where her character meets and grisly demise. “The catering was vegan, but the props were real meat!”
O’Loughlin said because her budget was small (just 11,000 Australian dollars), post-production ended up taking a few months and the film was finally finished in February 2019. Like many indie filmmakers, O’Loughlin funded her project with a combination of her own money and crowd-sourced funds.
“I also had a lot of in kind support and generous volunteers,” she said.
Going back to the works of George Romero, zombie filmmakers have a tradition of using their films to hold a mirror up to society. O’Loughlin’s film continues this, taking on both the drug problem facing rural Australia as well as its colonial history. In this case, drugs were the catalyst and other ideas grew from there.
“It came from wanting to make a satire about the ice problem a lot of rural towns are facing,” O’Loughlin said. “So I thought of meth zombies.”
The themes of colonialism crept in sometimes inadvertently, owing to the filming location.
“It was important for me to acknowledge Indigenous people,” O’Loughlin said. “I grew up in Alice Springs, where the film is set and where we have a huge Indigenous population and culture is still alive.”
O’Loughlin noted that casting Indigenous boys Robert Kenny and Clayton Bailey was not her original plan, but added a level of depth that wasn’t in the first draft of the script.
“I originally wrote the script for two little blonde girls but they couldn’t make the shoot, so I had to recast,” O’Loughlin said. “I thought of my boys. I used to be their Youth Worker and I’ve stayed in touch with their family for years.”
Fortunately, the change didn’t require much revision to the script, but one change has been met with mixed reviews by audiences.
“The only part of the script that changed was the joke about the Stolen Generation (a dark period of government policy to assimilate/breed out Aborigines.),” O’Loughlin said. “Indigenous people love that joke. White people, not so much.”
Prior to being uploaded to YouTube, it premiered at Trasharama, which O’Loughlin describes as “this awesome B-grade slasher film festival in Australia.”
“It was a crowd favourite,” she said. “It’s very Aussie but I hope it translates to other cultures.”
Although she is proud of the film and enjoyed the process of making it, O’Loughlin doesn’t want to experience a real zombie apocalypse.
“I would die very quickly,” she said.
Categories: Zombie films