The new Australian film Red Billabong is about to commence its six-week shoot on the Gold Coast. The action thriller is set in the Australian outback and follows two brothers – played by Dan Ewing (Home and Away) and Tim Pocock (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) – who find themselves stalked by a sinister supernatural something-or-someone after their friends begin to go missing.
“Seven years ago I started writing this script, which came into being after I looked at Australian myths and Australian legends, how they relate back to aboriginal times and how I could relate that into an interesting movie for modern day audiences,” says Red Billabong’s debut writer-director, Luke Sparke (pictured).
“I wanted to tell something that’s new and not retell something that’s been told before. It’s something that people have yet to see on the screen. It’s supernatural action and we play up the mythology part of the story toward the end of the film.”
The film’s supporting cast includes Jessica Green (Lightning Point) and Bruce Carter (Gods of Wheat Street), while Sparke hopes to add an established Aussie star midway through the shoot to potentially play one of the villains.
Red Billabong was fully financed using private investment via Sparke’s own company SparkeFilms, which he runs with his father Ian Sparke, an executive producer on the film and an AFI-nominated costume designer (Beneath Hill 60), as well as an in-demand military advisor (The Sapphires, The Railway Man).
Red Billabong's international sales agent, the UK-based Manifest Film Sales/Intandem Films, is currently working to get worldwide distributors on board. The company presented the film’s concept to buyers at the European Film Market in January, and again at Cannes in May, and intends to package and sell it in November at the forthcoming American Film Market.
“We’re hoping it gets released in the second quarter of next year or half way through the year,” says Sparke. “We intend to release theatrically in Australia and also have massive interest from Japan, the UK and for a possible theatrical release in the US, too. All those distributors from those countries are standing by to see how it looks. As soon as we’ve completed shooting, our editor will cut together a sizzle reel for the American Film Market.”
In addition, Sparke is directing the long-delayed Australian war epic The 34th Battalion, which will star Luke Hemsworth (The Reckoning), Stephen Lang (Avatar), Claire Van Der Boom (Broke), and Tony Bonner (The Lighthorsemen).
“We should be able to go straight from Red Billabong into 34th Battalion,” says Sparke, who co-wrote the film with his father Ian. “It’s in the final stages of financing in LA and we’re in discussions regarding our two leads. It’s a huge movie, with a massive budget for an Australian film, and it’ll be a six-month shoot with a long post-production period.”
The director also has several other concepts for additional feature films in the works. “There’s a comedy, a western and a buddy cop type film, so a few genres there,” he reveals. “They’re almost polished and ready to start being looked at by sales agents but I’m holding off until I do Billabong and then I can decide which one I want to bring forward.”
Red Billabong commences its six-week shoot in the Gold Coast region of Canungra, Queensland on 8th September.