Sci-fi western to be 'fully Southland-made'
Author: Gwyneth Hyndman
Date posted: 09/05/12
Pistols, robots, a saloon inside a shipwrecked boat and British television star Gavin Richards will all feature in a sci-fi western set in Southland and Central Otago by early next year.
Invercargill film-maker Matt Inns said he was still working through the last drafts of his 15-minute film The Ballad of Maddog Quinn before he begins shooting – if not by December, then early next year – though the western already has support from Film Otago Southland and received $15,000 from the Invercargill Licensing Trust, the first chunk of funding to come his way for the project.
He described his short film as "a cross between Mad Max and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.
Inns, who in 2009 directed Oku Tuakana, My Brothers, set during the New Zealand land wars in the 1840s, worked as a director trainee with Robert Sarkies on Two Little Boys last year.
A graduate of the SIT Digital Media course, Inns said the idea for the character of Maddog Quinn – an outlaw past his prime who finally gets tracked down – had been playing around in his head for years. His flatmate, Steve Woller, is the production designer for the film.
A cardboard refrigerator box, set up in the front lounge with pages of drawings, pictures and newspaper clippings, acts as a storyboard in the pre-production phase.
Inns said he had gone through "at least" five official drafts so far, with input from his producer, Allison Dodds, in Wellington, Bryan Campbell, of Southern Filmmakers Trust and Richards, who was an actor on EastEnders, 'Allo 'Allo! and Coronation Street before moving to Blenheim.
Richards – set to play the starring role of Maddog Quinn – was in Invercargill during the weekend to run a workshop for writers, actors and directors. The Sunday afternoon segment wrapped up with a reading of Inns' script, followed by a feedback session from the participants.
Inns said the most important part of a short film was making sure the story was strong and writing was tight.
"With a short film you've got to keep it simple and to the point. If you've got a good story, the rest is redundant. It's really not so much about squashing it down as sticking to the core."
Getting good critique had been crucial, he said. Humour was also important, as was not taking himself too seriously.
"I have no idea if it's good or bad – it's generally bad," he said. "But if you only want to hear that it's good, you're never going to get better."
Having Woller's detailed storyboard in the background was a necessary resource for making such a visual film, he said.
"Because it is so heavy on the visual, you've got to create a whole world with its own rules, laws and theories. You have to figure out what is going to be accepted morally within this society."
Though the film would be a "fully Southland-made project," Inns said he wanted it to be an unspecified place in the story.