Our friends over at TRASHARAMA have finally made available the film that started it all. BLUE DOG marks the origin of Australia's nastiest, most repulsive film festival of them all. Writer/Director Dick Dale spent a year putting this little sucker together with NO money, a bunch of mates and a shitty VHS camcorder. Kicking off with hilarious home-made title cards the film has been described by Dale as a "DIY PUNK RAWK ZOMBIE GOREFEST" and I can't think of a better way to describe. it. With copious amounts of red stuff, goopy stuff, wobbly stuff and tin-foil - the film showcases a gnarly, hysterical and passionate filmmaking exercise. Made in 1994 this cheesy splatterfest was first screened the Crown & Anchor Hotel in Adelaide to a motley audience of punkers, derros and scumbags and it laid the foundation of what was to become TRASHARAMA a few years later. Dick Dale is one of our favourite people here at FakeShemp.Net and his contribution, support and obsession for independent genre filmmaking makes him a cinematic legend in our books. And so here it is - BLUE DOG!! Presented in 3 parts, this awesome little depravity is surprisingly well made. Deliciously aged and grainy, it's also well shot and edited. The intentional humour works the treat and Dale's objective is well and truly realised.
Josh Whittall is a good friend of FakeShemp.Net and he has just release a brand new BATMAN comic, which tells an all new and controversial backstory that you will not have predicted. I'm sure it will have tongues wagging and it's bound to stir some debate. Click the poster and see for yourself.
Click right here to read an interview with Josh which was published last year.
The Melbourne Underground Film Festival needs no introduction. You may have landed on this article by clicking a link or perhaps you already follow us... whatever the case you probably already love MUFF. For the past 15 years filmmaker Richard Wolstencroft and his motley horde of minions have been dishing up festival after festival of alternative cinema. From low budget independent arthouse films to hardcore horror flicks and everything in between. With controversy in their wake and salivating cult movie-lovers at their disposal MUFF has forged an important and valuable platform for subversive cinema in Melbourne.
This year MUFF is embracing the crowd funding set-up and seeking help from those they love most... their fans. With a tantalising and confronting program on its way and special guests including legendary underground filmmaker Nick Zedd, the special Indiegogo campaign is in its final days and needs your help. For the love of bold & daring cinema and a FUCK YOU gesture to the mainstream you should climb on board the MUFF train and lend them your support. A little goes a long way.
This September I will be presenting a series of MUFF Diaries detailing my own experience at the festival and sharing my thoughts on the films and events they showcase. In the mean time I recently spoke with MUFF's assistant director & shorts programmer Hussain Khoder and fired off a few questions about this years festival.
Hussein, tell us a bit about this year's MUFF.
This year is the 15th year the festival and its going to be a great one. We have a great team behind us who help out with the festival and their contributions are going to help make this MUFF one of the best.
This year's theme is 'Evolve or Die'. Can you elaborate on that?
The same droll types of films have been made over and over and they're killing the industry. With new mediums and ways to make films the theme of Evolve Or Die is a message that the industry needs to embrace. Australia can make great films and but unless we evolve with new trends and ports of delivery things are set to look very dire.
This year MUFF moves to the new Backlot Studios. What do you think this adds to MUFF?
Since the Backlot is a smaller venue then what we had last year it means we are scaling down the festival but that, in turn, means that the quality of films will be a lot higher. The Backlot is an amazing venue and I've been there many times. I am really glad that MUFF is going to be held their year. It's exciting.
Looking back over the years, what has MUFF meant to Melbourne?
MUFF has been supporting local & indie filmmakers for the past 14 years. It's been a place where filmmakers can come and get their films screened when few others will support their content. It has been a festival that has produced some of the biggest filmmakers to come out of Australlia such as James Wan, Greg McLean and Patrick Hughes. It has become a community where filmmakers can come and network with other filmmakers & actors and fans can interact also.
What should people expect this year?
The same thing they should expect at every MUFF. GREAT FILMS, great people and just an awesome atmosphere. We always show the best of independent cinema and always try to shock the audience as much as possible. We have amazing local filmmakers attending and presenting their films. So if you haven’t been to MUFF then you must. It will be a great year for an introduction.
Tell us about the Indiegogo crowd funding campaign.
Because MUFF is a small independent festival we rely on donations, sponsorship and support from the fans. We needed some decent funding to bring guests down this year and we've been impressed with various other crowdfunding campaigns. So we thought we would give it a go. We have some great rewards on offer including masterclasses, dinner with Richard and other cool stuff. Check it out.
This year you are looking to bring Nick Zedd to the festival. What can you tell us about Nick and his role in this years festival?
Nick Zedd is an underground filmmaker from New York City and has been making films since the late 70s. His films feature extreme violence and black humour, which make him the perfect guest for MUFF.
Nick will be screening some of his films, which will also feature a Q&A. He will also be doing a masterclass and tickets to that can be purchased through the Indiegogo campaign.
What can you tell us about the short-film component of the festival this year?
The short film side of the festival has always been interesting and loads of filmmakers have caught their break through these shorts. It's always great seeing amazing projects come through the festival. There have been times when I've seen a short and think to myself “this person has a massive career ahead of them”. Last year we played around 80-90 shorts and will play the same amount this year. I'm still programming the shorts but so far they're some of the best I've seen. Everyone should make time for these this year.
When can people expect to see the program released?
We are currently in the process putting it together but the program should be released in early August.
What have been some of your personal favourite MUFF memories over the years?
There have been loads but my personal favourite memory is back in 2012 when we had Crispin Glover as a guest. Crispin was such a colourful character and he was great to talk to. He also gave me some solid advice about my own film-making. Other MUFF highlights over the years have included guests such as Troma's Lloyd Kaufman, Bruce La Bruce, Bret Easton Ellis, William Lustig, Ron Jeremy and Michael Tierney.
MUFF 2014 assaults our senses this September. Support their campaign and stay tuned for more updates, exclusives and interviews.
Every so often I venture into Cash Converters to see what DVDs and blu-rays they have on sale. It's a cheap way to replenish stock for my store and it allows me replace damaged titles for next to nothing. I don't really enjoy being in their stores (any of them) because the customer-base is usually ferral, not to mention the staff can be more bogan than the customers. But hey, they've got what I want, very cheap and I rarely walk out empty handed. A few days ago I approached their counter with 5 DVDs and the guy behind the counter observed my clothing and said "a guy who wears a Hellraiser t-shirt knows what's going on". I gave him a subtle smile (while thinking riiiight) and let him get on with the transaction. Then he looked at the movies I was buying and his tune changed. He seemed perplexed and wasn't going hide his confusion. He said "but then again, The Secret Garden? What's with that shit?". I rolled my eyes. Clearly I was dealing with an ignorant fuckwit. I replied "What does that mean?" and he said "You pretend to be a horror fan but you buy poofy shit like this". My natural response was to laugh in his face. I called him a dickhead and left. Entering into any further discussion with him would have been pointless. Instead I went home and watched it with my partner and topped the night off with A LITTLE PRINCESS as an ultimate Fuck You to Mr Cash Converter!
For the record THE SECRET GARDEN is a classic. I was purchasing it for my store (I already own a personal copy) and for all this fucktard knew I could have been buying it for my daughter. That's irrelevant. The film is based on a beloved novel and was produced by Francis Ford Coppola. Hey, if it's good enough for the director of THE GODFATHER and APOCALYPSE NOW then it's good enough for me. It's a wonderful story with wonderful performances. It looks beautiful and embodies a sense of wonder and adventure that we should all embrace. It is definitely NOT a girls film (let alone a poofy one, whatever that means) and ought to be a staple part of any kid's movie education. But I digress....
I have been writing (well, attempting to) screenplays since I was 13 years old. I had always written stories throughout primary school but it wasn't until I started high school that I became obsessed with script-writing. The very first books I ever purchased were published screenplays. Quentin Tarantino's Natural Born Killers and Pulp Fiction were the two that I turned to most. Upon reflection Tarantino's scripts probably weren't the most ideal ones to cut my teeth on because his method and style was in total contradiction to what film school would later teach me. Now as an adult, when I read his scripts again I realise that he was right and film school was wrong. Writing is personal and to hell with a specific structure when fleshing out a story. Everything can be structured later.
This evening I was rummaging through some old boxes and stumbled upon a heap of my own early scripts dating right back to 1993. Wow, what a hit of nostalgia! I've got more stored elsewhere and will have to dig them up too. Reading through these was quite confronting. The quality of my writing has obviously matured over the years but what shocked me was the way I told stories... and the actual stories I was telling. I think they're quite sophisticated for a 13-15 year old and a lot of the themes (and specific scenes) have found their way into my more recent scripts.
Below are various photos of the scripts I found. The first one dates back to 1993, titled THE POWER WITHIN. It was a short spin-off story to the Steve Miner film WARLOCK. I was 13 years old and practically plagiarised the Hollywood movie. Interestingly several years later I did actually pen a proper sequel in treatment form (around the same time that I wrote a treatment for ARACHNOPHOBIA 2).
The second script featured below was called RAMSAY. It remains incomplete at approximately 10 pages but the story was incredibly heavy for my 13 year old self to be telling. It was a drama about an 8 year old boy who accidentally kills his grandfather in a farming accident and the emotional toll it takes on his family. Being incomplete I am unsure where I was taking the story but I was clearly reflecting upon my own childhood in terms of description of the farming life.
The third script is titled THREE GLASS BOTTLES and tells the story of three old men who make a pact to surrender their life's savings to whoever survives a three way game of Russian roulette. They lock themselves in a store room and begin an amusing and intense game of chance. Again, the material is quite heavy for a young mind to have written and it demonstrates two major influences. I was obviously besotted with THE DEER HUNTER at the time but the style and structure better reflects my love of Roald Dahl's adult fiction.
The fourth script is titled BURIN'S BEND. Of all the early scripts this one was the most personal to me. It tells the story of two 4 year old girls who go missing in a small fishing town in the south of Newfoundland. Assumed to have been abducted the entire town, province and nation focus on the disappearance. When a prominent expert in folklore comes into the story he suggests that the children fell victim to the local legend of the fairies. The outside world thinks he's a loon but the town's people know the stories only too well and humour the possibility that their children were lead astray by an ancient myth. It's a difficult story to tell and it's a subject that I have been trying to elaborate on over the years. I still return to it every so often and hope to complete a feature length script about it one day.
And the final two scripts are both shorts, which I wrote and shot in my first two years of film school. SNUFFER told a comical horror story of a serial killer who video tapes his murders. The film depicts his final crime when all of the VHS cassettes in his lair come to life and exact a blood revenge on him. It was stupid and fun to make. Sadly the audio was destroyed and only the footage remains. Years ago i re-cut it into a music video, which you can see here. It's not at all good but fun to look back on. And finally DROP BOX. This was my homage to CLERKS and I took a lot of cues from a great little film called TOMORROW BY MIDNIGHT. It was autobiographical and depicted many of the stories, which I have since incorporated into the TALES FROM A CLERK section of this website. Sadly ALL footage from this film has been lost. Never to be found.
Posting this article has been a huge indulgence... and it's been cathartic. New ideas are now bouncing around my mind and I have a heap of new material to inject into some of my more recent scripts. Perhaps I will scan the whole lot and upload them for shits n giggles. We'll see about that. It's fascinating to see how so much of these early childhood ideas have influenced my style now.