|by Dov Kornits
Short film competitions are never in (ahem) short supply, but none could possibly use the same judging criteria as Australia's Arena TV Shifty Films Competition. Only in its second year, Shifty Films attracted over two hundred entries, and the winner was a little treasure called Bondi Hophead Zombie Freakout. The title alone could give you a good indication of what the judges were looking for, but when you throw in the first prize of a week on the New York set of a Troma film, you know that it wasn't art.
What it lacks in art, Bondi Hophead Zombie Freakout more than makes up for in blood, guts, corny humour and awful acting. So when I meet its director/editor/DOP Kent Boswell for lunch in The Rocks, it's surprising to discover the guy only has one head and even works at a prestigious ad agency.
"I edit and produce TV commercials. It was good to bring my knowledge of the technical side. The crew, in effect are all from the agency, from all different departments, so it was good to have such a diverse group of people."
The satirical Bondi Hophead was co-written by Tim Bullock (who also produced) and Jim Godfrey, with authentic B grade art direction by Noah Regan. It tells the tale of a couple of surfer dudes who pull a few bongs of this freaky blue weed, turn into flesh eating zombies, and then go on a cannibal rampage in Bondi Beach when they get the munchies.
Made for $350 by shooting on digital video and editing after hours at the ad agency, the short was shot over two and a half days on location on Bondi Beach.
"It was pretty full on," admits Kent. "Starting at 6 in the morning and probably wrapping when the sun went down. We shot about an hour and a half of rushes for a five-minute film."
Then it was over to a sixty hour edit, which thankfully didn't cost them a cent, saving them what Kent worked out as $10 thousand.
"The film was .4 of a second shorter than the maximum five minutes. When we first cut the film it was running at 7.5 minutes. It had heaps of work to be done but there was a point where we were really freaking out because we cut out everything we could and still had 16 seconds to lose, and there were still no credits. We were thinking about cutting out a scene, but I think we just trimmed shots and a bit of dialogue. It works better this way because it's nice and tight and rockets along."
Apart from winning the trip to New York, Kent is most excited about the fact that Bondi Hophead has broken even.
"We had a premiere at Planet Hollywood where we had 140 guests. They laughed at all the right places. We had two full sessions at the theatrette. They were friends of ours, people from work, people who acted and worked on the movie. On the night of the premiere we sold tickets for $5. It was a small donation and even paid for the theatrette hire."
Kent is already planning to make a film for next year's Tropfest, but with so many people involved in the making of Bondi Hophead Zombie Freakout, who's going to New York?
"We've spoken to Arena, and what we're hoping to do is see if they can organise another ticket and we'll pay them for it. Tim Bullock and I will go halves in it.
"When we go to New York we're going to try and get it on pay TV there. We'll also see if we can get it onto the Comedy Channel here where they screen shorts every night."
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originally posted: 07/25/99 14:55:27