Shane Krause has a refreshingly candid view of the commercial prospects of The Contents, a self-funded supernatural thriller which marks his directing debut.
“If the film turns out to be any good we will get interest” from distributors and sales agents, says Krause, who co-wrote and produced the film with his regular collaborator Shayne Armstrong.
“If it doesn’t it will die the death it deserves to. The amount of money at risk is pitifully small. If it doesn’t work no one gets hurt.”
The cast and a small crew worked irregularly on the film for the past six months shooting on locations in Brisbane. It’s 80% completed; still to come are the visual effects elements created by Steve Boyle whose credits include The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Bait 3D, Daybreakers and who’s just worked on Chris Sun’s low budget horror film Charlie’s Farm.
The plot of The Contents follows a young woman (Melanie Zanetti) who returns to the family home after being forced to work as a prostitute to pay off a debt. Her sister has inherited the house and she gets the contents but rapidly discovers the house is inhabited by ghosts.
Krause and Armstrong, who have known each other since they went to school in Dalby, Queensland in the 1970s, funded the film from their fees as scriptwriters.
Their debut feature was Jon Hewitt’s 2008 horror movie Acolytes and they were among the writing team on Kimble Rendall’s Bait. They wrote the children’s series K9 for Network Ten and the Cartoon Network animated features Johnny Bravo Goes to Hollywood and Exchange Student Zero; the latter is being spun off into a series for the broadcaster’s Asia-Pacific networks.
Among numerous projects in development is Deep Water, the follow-up to Bait, which follows a plane transporting criminals from China to Sydney, which crashes in the Pacific where the survivors are attacked by tiger sharks. Arclight Films is developing the film; no director is attached yet.
Also on the slate are 6 Miranda Drive, a supernatural horror film set in the suburbs for Wolf Creek director Greg Mclean; A Murder of Crows, a Gothic Western about a Chinese gunslinger who comes to Australia searching for his wife and daughter after the Boxer Rebellion, for producers Michael Robertson and Murray Pope; Comeback, a Zombie horror/comedy set in Manila for Red Dog director Kriv Stenders; and Tremula, a sci-fi horror about astronauts in Australia who are training for a Mars mission and encounter aliens, for director Michael Rymer.
Armstrong says McLean has sent their script for 6 Miranda Drive to the US, with their blessing, where it’s undergoing a process of “de-Aussiefication.”
Neither Krause nor Armstrong is deterred by the poor B.O. results in Australia for well-reviewed genre films Patrick and 100 Bloody Acres. Krause says they were inspired by La Casa Moda/The Silent House, a low budget Uruguayan film which sparked a US remake, Silent House.
They hope The Contents will be a stepping stone to bigger things, emulating the Spierig brothers, who graduated from making the micro-budgeted Undead to Daybreakers and how Predestination; and Patrick Hughes, who made a giant leap from Red Hill to directing Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Antonio Banderas and Harrison Ford in The Expendables 3.
“If we can make films responsibly for a price, we hope we will be taken more seriously as a writer-producer team,” says Armstrong.