Bullets for the Dead ready to shoot

Zombie Western Bullets for the Dead is set to roll in Queensland on November 17, the feature debut of writers-directors Joshua C. Birch and Michael Du-Shane.

The plot follows hardened bounty hunter James Dalton (Christopher Sommers), who escorts a gang of outlaws led by the fiery young Annie Blake (Vanessa Moltzen) to the sheriff.

En route he discovers the remains of a massacre and rescues its sole survivor, a preacher (Hugh Parker). All are forced to work together and battle their way across the American West of the 1870s when the zombie apocalypse begins.

Birch and Du-Shane developed the feature from a 3-minute film, 26 Bullets Dead, which they shot in 2011 when they were students at the Griffith Film School.

The short was part of the school’s genre strand overseen by the artist-in-residence, Spanish director Alberto Sciamma (The Killer Tongue), who encouraged the filmmakers and DoP Brian Loewe and production designer Kate Carrick to do the Master’s program.

The producers are Visionquest Entertainment’s Cathy Rodda, who was a producer on the Finnish-German-Australian co-prod Iron Sky, and Norm Wilkinson. Sciamma is serving as creative director/producer.

The film school is investing in the film as a collaboration with Visionquest to develop young filmmakers and provide a career pathway for their students. The other financiers include Screen Queensland, the UK’s GSP Distribution and Premiere Picture, which is cash-flowing the producer offset. Michael Cowan’s Phoenix Worldwide Entertainment is launching international sales at the American Film Market.

Rodda tells IF The Backlot Studios will handle theatrical distribution in Australia and she is also exploring using a cinema-on-demand service such as Tugg or FanForce. “We are looking at niche event screenings for fans of zombie movies with a shorter window to home entertainment,” she said.

Of the struggle to finance the film, she said, "It’s been a very long and intense two and a half years. We’ve been in pre for 18 months and the film has been planned within an inch of its life, constantly wrangling story execution against budget. What we have now is a great, fun script, a truly creative vision and a fantastic team that will see us punch well above the weight of our near $2 million budget.”

Rodda hopes her next project will be Muay Thai, a murder mystery set in a Malaysian resort from director John Duigan, co-scripted by Duigan and Ken Allen Jones. London-based Celsius Entertainment will introduce that project to prospective buyers at the AFM.