IF FX Feature: Omnilab resurrects Dead of Night

07 July, 2009 by IF

By Rodney Appleyard

Omnilab Media is continuing to invest heavily in production, with its latest thriller, Dead of Night, wrapping up its US-based shoot last month.


Producer Gilbert Adler says Dead of Night – which follows a reluctant private investigator drawn into the world of vampires, werewolves, ghouls and the undead – attracted strong interest from investors.

“The way movies are pieced together these days, in regards to the financing, is not like the old days when you used to visit four dentists in Michigan or Sydney and ask them to write you a cheque,” he told IF FX from the set in New Orleans last month.

“It’s far more sophisticated because of the interest in the picture from around the world. We found out about Omnilab – they loved the script, had the right attitude, were very clued up about making sure the quality would be of a certain standard and have been great partners all the way.”

The $US20 million film is currently in post-production and also counts Hong Kong-based Standard Chartered Bank as co-financier.

The film is based on the best-selling Italian book series Dylan Dog, written by Tiziano Sclavi, which has sold more than 56 million units worldwide and been translated into 17 different languages.

The story is about the adventures of a supernatural private eye (Dylan Dog – played by Brandon Routh) who seeks out monsters on the streets of the Louisiana bayou in his signature red shirt, black jacket and blue jeans. Originally set in Europe, the filmmakers have instead chosen to set it in New Orleans’ marshy swampland.

“In our movie, Dylan Dog is retired but decides to come back to work because something bad has happened to a person he cares about a great deal. His friend Marcus works alongside him on the investigations, making it a terrific buddy movie,” he says.

“It features plenty of great make-up effects created by DRAC Studios, who won an Oscar for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. They have created some really cool transformations for some of the characters – the likes of which we haven’t ever seen in movies before. I always like to do something a bit different on each movie and to push the envelop a little bit because nobody wants to see the same old thing all the time.”

The film is directed by Kevin Munroe, whose 2007 re-imagining of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles resurrected the billion-dollar franchise. Munroe will focus less on the character’s transformation from human to non-human and more on the seamless interaction between the living and the undead.

As well as featuring extensive make-up effects, Adler says the film will include CGI, stop motion animation and time-lapse photography.

“I don’t think any movie can sustain itself just by using one type of effect. We basically look at the character and allow everything to grow from there. For instance, a certain effect will be needed to create an emotional connection with the audience – so we think about how we can accomplish this in the best way.

“But we won’t be using any fully CGI creatures because that kind of effect is used too much in the world of commercials and I think it is more than a turn off than an enhancement to the movie. You really have to make sure the quality is there in all areas to make it feel like its real. Once the audience does not feel like it’s real, it all over.”

The Lab Sydney general manager Lewis Pullen says it has been funding films for a long time. The Lab is one of several companies owned by Omnilab.

“We are interested in filmmakers with credibility who have done a good job in securing finance for a movie. One of the ways in which we help local filmmakers get their project off the ground is by cash flowing the Tax Offset.

“I’m also happy to work with local filmmakers in the domestic market on lower level budget movies too. We are definitely planning to lift our involvement in this area too. Supporting filmmakers to get their films up is as good as it gets and we want to continue to work hard in this area.”

Omnilab also funded other well-known films such as The Bank Job, W and The Messenger.

Bran Nue Dae is another movie we helped to get off the ground. Without our help it would never have got up and running. It’s also great to be working in a joint venture with George Miller on Happy Feet 2 because we do actually see a chance of building a world class film industry here.”

Omnilab will find an Australian distributor for Dead of Night and its post-production company iloura will do the visual effects on the movie.