UK, Australian deals for Oz horror/comedy

Studiocanal has acquired the UK and Australian rights to Wyrmwood, a horror/comedy billed as Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead.

That’s quite a coup for Tristan Roache-Turner and Kiah Roache-Turner, who shot the film at weekends over the past four years.

The brothers co-wrote the screenplay and produced, and Kiah directed in his feature film debut. They are in Austin, Texas for the world premiere on Friday night US time at Fantastic Fest.

“We are pretty stoked,” Tristan tells IF, referring to the Studiocanal deals and the film being invited to Fantastic Fest and to next month’s Sitges – International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia.

The brothers started shooting in Sydney in December 2010 without a completed script, just the intention to make a movie which mashed the Mad Max and horror genres. “We thought it would take 12 months and we’d make it like Peter Jackson,” says Kiah.

NIDA graduate Jay Gallagher, who had made a couple of short films with Kiah, agreed to play the lead, who loses his family in an Apocalypse and sets out with his best mate (Leon Burchill) to find his missing sister (Bianca Bradey).

Of the cast, 17 were NIDA graduates. All cast and crew worked on accruals, meaning the brothers will pay their fees from revenues.

They raised $60,000 from crowd-funding campaigns and the balance of the budget from family, friends and their own pockets.

Screen Australia provided completion funds. Studiocanal MD Robert Slaviero picked up the Australian rights and sent a print to his colleagues in London, who nabbed the UK rights. See Pictures' Jamie Hilton is the executive producer.

The film was shot over about 20 weekends in Sydney, a big backyard in Kellyville, the Blue Mountains and a pine forest in Oberon.

Lisa Cotterill did the make-up. The brothers used a minimum of digital effects because, as Kiah explains, “We tried to keep it as real as possible.”

XYZ Films is selling the US rights and Altitude Film Sales is handling the rest of the world.

Tristan works full-time as a construction project manager for Ausgrid. Kiah quit his job as an online marketing director to concentrate on Wyrmwood.