The Babadook producer Kristina Ceyton is teaming with US producer Russell Ackerman to make Cargo, a post-Apocalyptic thriller adapted from a 2013 Tropfest finalist.
Ceyton met Ackerman, who was Guillermo del Toro’s development executive for six years and worked on films such as Mama, in Los Angeles.
Ackerman approached Ceyton after seeing The Babadook and asked to come on board the project, which will be co-directed by Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling and scripted by Ramke, who collaborated on the short.
The saga of a guy who is stranded in the midst of a zombie apocalypse and is desperate to protect the precious cargo he carries, his infant daughter, the short has been viewed more than 6.7 million times on YouTube.
Meeting Ackerman, who launched Addictive Pictures with John Schoenfelder last year, was one of the benefits of Ceyton’s six-month attachment with Glen Basner’s production and international sales house FilmNation, funded by Screen Australia.
At FilmNation Ceyton was privy to a wide spectrum of scripts, from top Hollywood screenwriters to local and international first-timers.
“The most I got out of the placement, which I’ll apply to my own projects, is that I feel more informed and confident to effectively and creatively assess the commerciality of a project and make informed decisions on what to take on, what’s already out there and what has a chance to get up,” she told IF.
“There are always those passion projects it’s great that we have the liberty in Australia to still pursue those very talent-driven projects that would not necessarily get made in the US because they wouldn’t be able to attract the big stars, but are still very worthwhile, important stories to be told.
“Beyond that it’s also given me a really good sense of the overall trends in the marketplace, and the contacts I made there that I’ll be able to call upon are hugely valuable to our projects here.”
Ïn the US IFC Midnight is launching The Babadook, which Kristina produced with Kristian Moliere, on DirecTV on October 30, then in cinemas in major cities at the end of November. Jennifer Kent’s horror movie is getting a wide release in the UK via Icon on 150 screens on October 24.
“In general the perception of Australian films overseas is really strong,” she said. “It’s a shame that Australian audiences are not embracing local films as much as they should – be that out of a lack of marketing funds to generate enough interest, or a general ambivalence towards local product, at least in terms of what the box office reflects. We need to keep in mind too that good Australian films still find their audiences here, beyond their theatrical releases, on television, online and DVD."
Among the other projects Ceyton is developing is Cartagena, a Colombian crime thriller based on a short story from Nam Le’s collection The Boat, co-produced with Naomi Wenck (producer of Kim Farrant's Strangerland, which stars Nicole Kidman, Hugo Weaving and Joseph Fiennes). The plot follows a teenage assassin living in the slums of Colombia who is ordered to do a hit on his best friend.
Ceyton is collaborating with writer Tom Holloway and director Jonathan auf der Heide on This Dark Wood, the tale of a young couple, recovering from losing their child, who move to Tasmania only to find the Tasmanian Devil facial tumour disease is affecting humans.
Also she is executive producing Lonely Girl, a psychological thriller about a young woman consumed by grief who decides to kill a man and hide his body in her basement. The producer is Samantha Jennings, her business partner in Causeway Films, the script is by Lynne Vincent McCarthy and Kiwi Alyx Duncan is attached to direct.