Once a unique and random genre, 'found-footage' films have become common-place in the modern cinemascape. With Hollywood trying to tap into the no-frills formula and almost every newcomer taking advantage of it, the genuinely good entries are few and far between. It takes something truly special to resonate and recently I caught the trailer for a new Australian found-footage film called THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE PILLIGA. It immediately struck a chord with startling imagery and no holds-barred intensity. With thoughts of BOGGY CREEK in my mind my eagerness to see this intriguing film has been niggling at me. It has been directed by Dane Millerd, who's background is in journalism. He recently took the time to answer some of my questions and provides some fantastic insight into the film and where the idea stemmed from.
What is your earliest movie memory?
Star Wars - I loved it as a kid and still do. My parents tell me I knew it word for word.
Were you raised in a movie-friendly environment?
Yes - plenty of movies and books. Anything that would broaden the horizons.
How old were you when you decided to pursue filmmaking?
Around 15 I decided I would like to make films. My journalism degree has helped though I always saw it as a component of being a script writer and director. I love to tell stories.
What has been your film education? Film school? Self Taught?
Self taught and from some good film makers as well. I have been lucky enough to work with Paul Denham and the late Graham Irwin who worked with Jack Thompson, Ray Barrett and Simon Wincer.
Can you tell us about There's Something in the Pilliga?
It's about four people who should've played golf! Seriously, it's about how one man (Jay) tricks a cameraman and two girls into a trip in his truck to see a friend in the outback when unbeknownst to them he is using them as bait to find the Pilliga Yowie (Bigfoot). Things go from bad to worse from there. It is a found footage POV genre film 100% Australian!
Where does the inspiration for the film come from?
Covering stories out there as a journalist as well as from my cousin. One of the females is based on my cousin to give it authenticity. Plus there is also loads of local legends out there about yowies.
The trailer looks intense. Can you tell us about some of the techniques you used to capture your atmosphere?
Filming on location and mostly in a colder time of year. That always works. Plus I like to keep some info from the cast to surprise them!
How long did the film take to shoot?
On and off over 3 years - a long time. All told from script to now it's taken 8 and a half years.
What about casting? Where did your players come from?
I already had an idea who I wanted but had to wait to get Leoni Leaver. The original lead actress didn't work out and Leoni was on the other side of Australia. I sent the script to her and she nailed it. In many ways she carries the film with Brendan Byrne (who plays Jay).
Was the low budget restricting or liberating?
Haha - sometimes both. Depending on the job.
Were you influenced by any other films?
Many. Wake In Fright, Razorback, Deliverance, Wolf Creek, Chopper and of course Blair Witch.
Has the film screened for any audiences yet and if so, what has the response been like?
Yes and the responses have been unanimous in their praise. That said - I know it won't be everyone's cup of tea but it will be someone's shot of whiskey!
When will get to see 'There's Something in the Pilliga'?
Soon - we have been in negotiations with distributors now so either late 2014 or early 2015.
How do you view the Australian film scene, particularly the genre scene?
I'm hoping it will be better when Pilliga is released!
What are some of your favourite Aussie films?
Bad Boy Bubby, The Loved Ones, Chopper - too many to name. Some of the movies that inspired me would also make the list.
What are some of your personal favourite films in general?
I have a big thing for 70s movies especially classics. Apocalypse Now, Deliverance and Taxi Driver among many others.
Who is your favourite filmmaker?
Do you have a guilty pleasure movie you love and aren't afraid to admit?
Haha - What Dreams May Come is the one.
Do you have any plans for another film?
Would you care to share with us? A sequel to this film - There's Something Else In The Pilliga.
Dane, thank you for taking the time. I am genuinely excited about your film and cannot wait for the opportunity to see it. Good luck with it.