It’s night. Torch in hand, you precariously trudge forth into the unknown, and you’re bathed in sweat. But it’s not just the suffocating humidity of the Sumatran jungle that’s causing you to secrete. It’s the hanging skulls, bloodied remains and inhuman snarls… You get the feeling that someone or something is watching! But is there?
Australian writer/director Andrew Traucki hopes so, with 2013 immersive first-person survival thriller ‘The Jungle’, about a leopard conservationist and his documentary filmmaker brother who travel to Indonesia in search of a rare species, only to become the hunted by a mysterious predator.
No greenhorn to the genre, Traucki first dipped his toes into the swamps of Australia’s Northern Territory with crocodile horror ‘Black Water’ (2007), then dove into shark infested waters for ‘The Reef’ (2010), marking his trek into ‘The Jungle’ feature film number three in the self-professed ‘Traucki’s trilogy of terror’.
Though technically accomplished works that adhere to all the true, tried and tested tropes you might expect from any successful big budget Hollywood horror, ‘Black Water’ took only $111,989 for its million dollar budget at the Aussie box office, and ‘The Reef’ took $124,764 with its budget at $3.8 million. It begs the question, why aren’t Australians flocking to the screens for something home-grown?
Audiences need to know your film exists. According to Traucki, when an American film comes to town, “it’s an event unto itself”. So it’s no wonder our audience is being diverted and all our Aussie talent are heading overseas with the ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ attitude, with nowhere near enough push behind the marketing to compete with Hollywood films.
The Jungle Trailer:
It’s an impressive feat Traucki has accomplished three Australian feature films within a six-year period, given some current statistics he informs us of during our recent interview for AnyCameraWillDo – “85-90% of first time Australian directors never make another feature. 10% go on to make their second”.
Despite the Australian box office results, Traucki’s films have thrived in DVD sales & garnered a considerable international audience since their theatrical release with ‘Black Water’ selling to 76 countries and ‘The Reef’ selling to 105 countries. It would seem apparent that the lack of a local audience is not a measure of these films’ quality, but perhaps the measure of marketing and the ability to wrangle an audience.
Writer/Director Andrew Traucki :
What’s refreshing of Traucki’s work is his truthful approach. For both ‘Black Water’ and ‘The Reef’ he uses real animals, and it’s this truthful approach he now applies to the film making aspect of ‘The Jungle’. Abandoning all the tricks from his horror handbook; be it quick cutting to timed music for jump scares like his previous 2 films, ‘The Jungle’ would be made in a pseudo-documentary low-budget style a la ‘The Tunnel’ (2011). Fascinated by the found-footage format, Traucki endeavored to challenge himself by creating a film that forces you to rely on the reactionary responses of the characters to build suspense, and by throwing the audience into the story by shooting it first person.
The Reef Trailer:
Black Water Trailer:
Apart from the inevitable physical challenges of shooting in a demanding untamed environment, and choreographing reality – an added difficulty inherent of the shooting style, Traucki maintains that the biggest hurdle is “having a good idea & getting it funded”. Without studio support, this notion hit home more than ever, when ‘The Jungle’ appealed to the public via crowd funding platform Indiegogo for post production funds in 2012. ‘The Jungle’ successfully reached its target & then some.
Funds that were raised ensured those elements ‘The Jungle’ relies so heavily on to scare the pants off an audience came to fruition – a tense & spooky sound design & color grade that brought the environs to life on-screen.
Perhaps it’s a telling sign with all of Traucki’s public support, that if the major funding bodies are not working with you, then it’s back to the old adage – if you want something done, you do it yourself… and with a little help from your friends. That’s exactly what Traucki’s done, by hell or high water he’s taken the film into his own hands & cut his way out of the thickets.
For more info:
Check out Andrew Traucki’s IMDB page here.
Andrews Company’s site here.
The Jungle on facebook.
The Jungle on IMDB here.
The Reef on facebook.
The Reef on IMDB here.
Black Water official site here.
Black Water on IMDB here.
And as always, if you have any questions, hit us up in the comments and we will get some more info out of Andrew 🙂