31 October 2019

Lights, camera, Furies! Canberra horror debuts for Halloween

| Michael Weaver
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Andy Marriott

Canberra film producer Andy Marriott is very proud of what the local film industry is now producing. Photos: Supplied.

Canberra film producer Andy Marriott grew up hating horror films.

Tonight, though, as part of a special Halloween release around Australia, Mr Marriott will watch his latest work, a horror film called The Furies, with an audience for the first time.

The Furies, which will be released on 7 November, was produced with the assistance of Screen Canberra, and was filmed and post-produced in Canberra. Shooting finished in April, with many of the scenes shot on location at Bywong, north-east of Lake George.

“I personally hate horror movies and I can’t bear watching them at all,” Mr Marriott told Region Media. “But it’s funny to see that the first project that we developed under this Canberra consortium was a horror film.”

Mr Marriott said the film is a modern take on the classic horror and slasher films of the 1970s and 80s such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween. Despite his personal reservations, he said that horror is still a fantastic genre for filmmakers who are relatively new to the industry.

“We’ve made what has been lauded across the world as an exceptionally good film in this genre,” he said.

“This film really takes the tropes from those eras and flips them on their heads, but you get to walk out not feeling like it’s a guilty pleasure. This is actually a worthwhile film in today’s marketplace.

“It’s a take on those great horror films that I never watched because I’m not a horror fan!”

The Furies is one of only five Australian films to have been invited to play at the 73rd edition of the Edinburgh International Film Festival and has sold-out at advance screenings around the world. It also won the best Australian feature award in Melbourne last week.

More than three-quarters of the people who worked on The Furies are Canberrans.

The project to utilise Canberra for The Furies began in 2015 and only really took off two years after once all the investors and distributers were signed and sealed.

He said producing films in Australia are traditionally a really bad bet, but with the Canberra-based screen industry recently getting a $5 million boost from the ACT Government, Screen Canberra has administered the CBR Screen Fund, which aims to attract productions that highlight the nation’s capital and build local capacity.

Mr Marriott is also CEO of Canberra film production house The Film Distillery and a managing director of SilverSun Pictures. His role as a co-producer was to find and bring together all the commercial aspects of the film.

The Film Distillery then partners with the creative team to produce their film, providing a ‘script-to-screen’ solution that covers schedules, budgets, finance, expertise in casting and key crew attachments. This leaves the filmmakers free to do what they do best – making great films.

“This film is an amazing achievement for the Canberra industry,” Mr Marriott said. “More than three-quarters of the people who worked on this film are Canberrans, which is absolutely phenomenal in an industry that is producing an international-level film.

“So many of those Canberrans had to upskill to work on the film, and they did so beautifully, and it really does show that a film can be done at an international level here in Canberra, even though we are so resource-poor compared to Sydney or Melbourne.

“But we have a great core group of people and an amazing level of pride and get-go to make this happen.”

The Furies is the first film born from an initiative called the Accelerator Pod which seeks to establish the ACT as a producer of commercially successful filmed entertainment and content.

There are currently five feature films in development, thanks to Screen Canberra’s Accelerator Pod.

This market-driven approach is anchored in a partnership with international sales agent Odin’s Eye Entertainment which maximises commercial potential with worldwide sales.

Killer Instinct is another film to feature a range of local Canberra talent as well as accomplished actors and production staff from interstate with highly impressive film and TV credits to their name.

One of those is the lead actor in The Furies, Airlie Dodds, who will also attend the premiere of The Furies in Canberra tonight. It officially opens in cinemas on 7 November.

“Canberra is a gem of a place to film, as everyone who comes here knows,” Mr Marriott said. “This is an amazing location, not just for how it looks, but also how easy it now is to produce a film here as well.”

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