‘Killing Ground’ director Damien Power on his journey post-Sundance

'Killing Ground.'

‘Killing Ground’.

Writer-director Damien Power has had a “life-changing” six months with his film, Killing Ground.

The horror film starring Aaron Pedersen, Harriet Dyer, Ian Meadows, Aaron Glenane, Maya Strange and Tiarnie Coupland opens this week on limited release in Australia, almost 12 months after it premiered at the 2016 Melbourne International Film Festival.

But since the film was selected to screen at the Sundance Film Festival in January, his career has accelerated.

“There was my life before Sundance and my life after Sundance,” he laughs. “I was working in a 9-to-5 job right up to before leaving for Sundance and I had to quit my job.”

Since January, he’s returned to the US three times for various networking and promotional tours, and was immediately signed by the powerhouse CAA (Creative Artists Agency) and management agency, Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

“Now I’m able to concentrate on filmmaking full-time,” he enthuses. “It’s been an incredible six months.”

Power has just returned from a promotional tour in the US for Killing Ground’s limited release. The genre arm of IFC Films, IFC Midnight, opened the film last month with simultaneous online streaming available. He said the IFC Midnight branding was very helpful because it is a “trusted genre” with loyal fans.

And his tale of a couple’s horror in the outback fit the global cinematic notion of Australia as a frightening outback frontier beside predecessors including Wolf Creek and Wake In Fright

“It’s interesting you say that because it does fit that view so much more than I anticipated,” he said. “The film works in the tradition of films we make here but I was surprised how eager, particularly a US audience was, for Australian horrors and thrillers and how it fits that tradition of films we make here.”

Power noted New York magazine’s popular Vulture site this month listed the ‘Best Horror Films of 2017 (So Far)’. Four of the 13 are by Australian filmmakers: Cate Shortland’s Berlin Syndrome; Sean Byrne’s The Devil’s Candy; Ben Young’s Hounds of Love; and Power’s Killing Ground.

Power is now in the pleasant position of being able to pitch his own projects while also being offered others.

“I don’t know where the next job’s going to be, to be honest,” he says.  Power and producer Joe Weatherstone have Australian development money for a teen thriller project, Rough Houses.

“I’d love to keep making films here; it’s just a case of following the opportunities. The doors have opened here and overseas so it’s a matter of seeing what works first.”

The frustration is it’s a long time between scripts,” he adds. “So if I find a script that speaks to me, or I can elevate the voice and have some fun, of course I’ll look at it too.”