‘Cargo’ filmmakers Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling on the Netflix deal and what’s next

Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling on the set of ‘Cargo.’

For Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling, the May 17 launch in Australian cinemas of their debut feature Cargo followed by the worldwide release on Netflix  will be the culmination of a five-year journey.

That’s how long the writers and directors spent on the project, from the initial treatment and the 2013 Tropfest short of the same name through to the feature produced by Causeway Films and Addictive Pictures.

Given that time-span and commitment, the filmmakers are not rushing into their next enterprise despite offers fielded by their US agent CAA. “It’s only been in the past couple of months that Ben and I have come up for air and started talking about other projects,” Ramke tells IF.

“Ben and I are very interested in the scope of television to tell a story over the course of eight to 10 hours so that is something we are looking to dip our toes in. It will probably be in the genre space.

”We are very conscious of making sure that whatever we do next is something that we can really invest ourselves in and care about.”

Umbrella will release Cargo, the post-Apocalyptic thriller dubbed a ‘zombie tearjerker,’ which stars Martin Freeman, Susie Porter, Anthony Hayes, Caren Pistorius, David Gulpilil and Simone Landers, on 20-30 screens initially followed by a wider roll-out. Netflix gets the second window in Oz after a six-month hold-back.

Netflix swooped on the film when it was in early post after seeing the script and a three-minute promo. Ramke says, “We were conscious of the difficulties of a cinema release and how much more tricky it can be to get bums on seats.

“As a filmmaker you would love to have your film seen by everybody on a big screen but that sadly is not the reality, so for us it became more important to get those eyes on the film and the best way to do that was via Netflix.”

Ramke and Howling are taking part in a TropTalks session on Genre Busters at 6.30 pm on February 14 at the Western Sydney University Parramatta campus. Together with Abe Forsythe (Little Monsters) and the university’s media arts production lecturer Maryella Hatfie they will explore the recent surge of genre-defying films and dissect different ways to change genre perceptions.

“All the general rules for genre films were established over 30 or 40 years and now we’ve reached the point as audiences and as a filmmaking community where we’re happy to break those rules or see how far we can push them,” says Howling.

During post on Cargo Ramke wrote the second draft of Zero Night, an action-adventure based on the true story of a crack team of British and Australian soldiers who staged an ingenious escape from a prisoner-of-war camp in Warburg, Germany in WW2. A parallel story follows a young  woman who led the Belgian resistance movement.

Screen Australia funded the development with the producer, Essential Media and Entertainment’s Simonne Overend. There’s no discussion yet on the director.

For information on Tropfest and TropTalks go here