We’ve run a couple of pieces on Australian filmmaker David Black including a preview of his upcoming feature Badass Bunyip Recently I had the chance to run a few questions past him on his seemingly endless slate of projects. I’m not sure how he finds the time for all of them, let alone to answer my questions.
1) Give us a little background on yourself and how you got into the entertainment industry.
Thanks for having me back on “Voices From The Balcony” Jim. I was into art, craft, music, and theatre way back in my school days. So much so that the teachers accused me of doing those subjects to get out of doing the “real ones”. I was banned from doing art, craft, joining in with the choir and being in the stage plays when I was 15. I then started doing my own projects outside of school. I drew first underground comics by the time I was 16, photocopied and stapled around 100 and distributed them to local shops. By age 17, I was also playing in a Punk band called Thrush and we were gigging around town by the time I was 18.
2) You were in the band Darkness Visible and did some videos for them before cancer sidelined you for a few years. Was that where your interest in short films, as opposed to features, came from?
Producing music videos for Darkness Visible was the same process for producing short films. I didn’t realize that though until I was invited to be an extra in an indie feature movie called Cult Girls. That invite itself came about because the filmmaker, Mark Bakaitis, was also a musician and I’d met him through Darkness Visible. In that way, the music videos did lead to doing short films. There is a new Darkness Visible video being planned now, by one of the filmmakers that I’ve met in my shoots. Vixey The will be taking the 1996 recording of Forbidden Knowledge and making a brand new music video, so it all comes full circle too!
3) You got two of your shorts, “Cannibal Barbecue” and “Dark Night of the Zomboogies” onto the Grindsploitation 666 anthology. That ended up being released by Troma. Was that what led to you getting your chance to have more of your films shown in the US?
Definitely. Every goal scored like that increased my chances of getting people to take my approaches seriously. Every outlet for films, whether it be a vod site, a tv show or a releasing house, is barraged by enthusiastic filmmakers wanting to get their product out there. Articles like this one also help filmmakers get taken seriously too. Having my films released on these DVD anthologies gave me enough of a profile to start getting my short films shown before the features at cinemas in the USA and England.
4) Your films are currently running on Sinema Obscura and Dr San Guinary’s Creature Feature. Can you tell us what films are showing on which?
Sinema Obscura are running the trailer for my horror feature, “Badass Bunyip” with this series and in the next, they will be showing “Sex Doll”, “Life, Love and Death” and showing the Darkness Visible music video “Inquisition.” Sinema Obscura also shows movies at the Logan Theatre and it was through them showing my shorts that led to them including me on their cable TV show.
Dr. San Guinary’s Creature Feature shows on broadcast tv on Fox KPTM 42.2 in Omaha. They’ll be showing “Malevolent Pursuit.” This one was directed by Glen Cook, who has worked with me on many of my films as a gaffer and sometimes as an actor. It’s a Noir thriller that seeks to get into the mind of a psycho killer.
5)Are your films showing in your native Australia? And what about the Horror House project? Did it ever evolve beyond the pilot episode we reviewed?
My films are showing at the odd short film night here, but I haven’t managed to get them into cinemas or on TV like I have in the USA and England. The indie industry in Melbourne seems to me to be a bit of an old boys club where the same people show up in everything. It’s pretty stagnant and going nowhere fast. A lot of those people see me as another upstart newcomer and think that I’m no more than a blip that will crash and burn.
With Horror House, we wrapped filming Horror House a while back and it’s still in editing. The senior editor on Horror House, Brendan Laurie, informs me “The series is still coming together with several episodes nearing completion, and a couple still in the midst of editing.”
6) Your short Cannibal Barbecue set off a chain of comments on YouTube that are quite funny in their own right. Tell us a little about the short, and the reactions it got.
In a way, Cannibal Barbecue is the film that set everything off for me. I got the idea to shoot it after a filmmaker contacted me on facebook and asked if I would do a short role in one of his films. He mentioned a friend, Anastasia C Kouloukas to me, so I said yes immediately before he could even finish telling me about himself. A few hours later, he rocked up, shot the scene in 30 mins and it was being edited in the car by his dop as they drove off. This duo didn’t bother about formatting scripts, making call sheets, having desk reads and rehearsals … they just did it and uploaded it within 6 hours. And it had 18,000 views in its first hour!
If I’d let him finish when he asked me if I wanted to be in his film, he would have told me that he had over 500,000 YouTube subscribers. His Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followers are all over a million each on each platform. His secret was that he was getting out content at the pace of one film per week, which helped him build such a massive following over the space of a few years.
Seeing the way this team worked showed me that you can get a short film done quickly if you just strip things back to only what you need. Cannibal Barbecue was my first attempt at a fast shoot and quick edit. It wasn’t done quite as speedily as they team did, but we are getting one film shot per month, which is quite a pace.
As for the YouTube reaction to it, that is quite bizarre. It’s on my channel so people should realize that I’m a filmmaker. It has an IMDB and gotten laurels from the Rebel Minded Film Festival, so it’s not like it is being presented dishonestly, yet people are still debating whether it is real or not. I have no idea where the traffic is coming from but it’s not from my own subscriber base. These viewers don’t seem to have ever seen anything like it before and it’s just sending them nuts.
7) The shows that have picked your stuff up are a mix of broadcast and cable. I’m assuming they air uncut on cable, but did they need trimming for the broadcast market?
At this stage, most of my films are too adult in their actual premise, so only “Malevolent Pursuit” was picked up for broadcast. They are able to bleep out the one or two swear words in it without affecting the story. I’m just now getting a few films edited short films that will be fine for them.
8) And will this have an effect on what you shoot going forward?
Definitely. Future shorts will be scripted so that we can have two cuts, without harming the films. I won’t just write them so that a chunk is cut out. There will be a different approach taken so that both versions can stand on their own merit.
9) What films and filmmakers have been an influence on you?
I’ve been influenced a lot by Italian filmmakers. I only realized this a few years back because I didn’t know when I first watched the old westerns that these were spaghetti westerns. Later on, when I got into horror, I didn’t take notice of the names on the credits to realise that they were directed by guys like Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. Even later than that, many of the post-apocalyptic gang films I loved were also made in Italy. This is the sort of influence you absorb while growing up, without necessarily being aware of the names that are influencing you.
10) And what is the status of your feature Badass Bunyip?
Badass Bunyip is still in editing. Part of the delay there is my fault because I keep getting Gerardo Cherchia to help me out in filming and editing short films, which is really just piling the work onto him. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the film and it is looking good. We might be able to release something ahead of the main film to give people a sneak peek. I will be easing back on filming soon to get the backlog of filmed projects edited and out.