Premiering at the Thornbury Theatre tomorrow Saturday January 10th and featuring post-film women’s action between OCW’s own “Hardcore Bitch” Vixsin and Kellyanne as well as a performance by Mercy Kills it should be an interesting night to say the least.
I sat down with From Parts Unknown’s director and producer, Daniel Armstrong, to find out more about what’s in store for moviegoers tomorrow night.
How would you describe the film in one sentence?
It’s a pro wrestling action film... with some zombies and a token midget.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the film?
The inspiration for From Parts Unknown comes from combination of my time working for video game publishers and this thought I had that a professional wrestler as the heroine of an action film would be make a cool movie. Many moons ago I worked for a games publisher who held the license for WWE games. The company used to sponsor the tours here so we’d get to follow the WWE around the country and have interesting adventures with some of the talent. Certain personalities from the office have definitely ended up in characters of From Parts Unknown. I was a product manager at the time, and I worked closely with our PR manager. She actually gave Ric Flair her resume and did some self promoting to try and get work with the WWE (true story).
The premise of From Parts Unknown is based loosely on this experience. Charlie is the PR coordinator for Corporation X, a video game company. Her real dream is to make it in pro wrestling, but she gets embroiled in a video game–created zombie apocalypse when stuff goes wrong at work with new technology developed for their games.
Are any of the stars of the film professional wrestlers themselves, or are they all actors?
The lead actress, Jenna Dwyer, who plays the wrestling heroine Charlie in the film was definitely not a wrestler. We took a bunch of the cast to a Professional Championship Wrestling Entertainment (PCWe) show soon after casting and she actually had to ask if it was real. Jenna and other actors who weren’t wrestlers all trained with PCWe for nine weeks to get some wrestling skills.
Aside from that, The Ox, Pitbull, Chris Menzies, Damien Drake and Mr. Big all appear in the film and there’s a brief cameo from Chris Knight. Rebecca Bolton (Charmaine) and Matt Silva (now wrestling with the WWE as Buddy Murphy) helped train our actors.
Are you a wrestling fan yourself?
Yes, I am. At the risk of divulging my extreme old age I used to watch Wide World of Sports every Saturday morning for the one or two wrestling matches they’d show. I remember begging Mum to let me stay up late to watch WrestleMania because it was shown on a school night. Whilst working in video games we all used to get across to the Sports Bar in the Casino for the semi-regular Rock ‘N Wrestling shows that featured The Ox, Mr. Damage and Chucky to name a few. I’ve certainly been a fan for most of my life. I don’t think I could have made this film without being one.
Who are your favourite wrestlers? Who did you grow up watching?
I grew up watching Junk Yard Dog, Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorf, Bret Hart and [guys from] that era. I think The Undertaker is my fave.
I understand there has been quite a time lapse between conception and public consumption. What were the roadblocks you encountered?
It took seven years to get here. We shot the film in 2007. The delay really boils down to a complete lack of resources and hands-on understanding of what the hell needed to happen in post-production. This was the first feature length film I’d embarked upon as director and I think it’s fair to say I didn’t map out how to tackle post-production very effectively.
We did some contra deals with production houses that fell through and left us worse off than before, and we had trouble finding skilled post-production people who would stick with the project. We had no money to pay anyone so this is understandable. At this time I also found myself unemployed and under some serious financial pressures. Something had to give and it was the film, so I ended up shelving it until my own personal circumstances became more stable.
After my situation improved we came up with a more workable approach to DIY filmmaking and went ahead and made the film MurderDrome, a roller derby–slasher movie. MurderDrome has been released in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland the USA and Canada. Through that process I got the post flow for a zero-budget enterprise figured out and was able to get back to From Parts Unknown and build it from scratch again this year to finally premiere tomorrow!
What are your distribution plans beyond the Northcote premiere?
We’ll follow a similar process to that we [embarked on] for MurderDrome. We made the trip to the American Film Market to sell that film, and were able to introduce ourselves to a number of distributors and sales agents. We’ll hit them up with From Parts Unknown during 2015 and take it from there.
We’re also open to running fundraiser screenings with wrestling promotions. We did this quite successfully with MurderDrome through roller derby clubs. Not just here in Australia but across the UK, USA and Canada as well. We’d be more than keen to talk to any promoters who think this is a good idea.
Two OCW staples, Vixsin and Kellyanne, will be wrestling at the premiere. How did that come about?
After seven years I was keen to make the premiere a bit of an event to celebrate the fact we’d finally got to the finish line. I’ve known Vixsin for years and years and she worked with us on a music video for the title track from the film, “Fight Like a Girl”, performed by Jenna Dwyer. We’ve tried to get Vix involved in a few of our other projects too but have never been able to schedule it to work. So she was first on the list and she said yes!
How important is it to provide alternative portrayals of women in a) wrestling and b) film in general?
I think all forms of media and entertainment should explore alternative portrayals [of] not just women, but lifestyles, subject matter, philosophies and people in general. An alternative voice is always refreshing and often important. It keeps the game fresh.
What are the future plans for StrongMan Pictures? I remember reading somewhere you’ve got another film in the pipeline…?
We’re still looking at selling MurderDrome into non-English speaking territories, and we’ll spend a lot of energy next year seeing if we can sell From Parts Unknown. But yes, we also plan to shoot a new film called She-Borg Prison Massacre in 2015. We’re just waiting for a few necessary things to fall into place and if that happens we’ll hit the big green-for-go button early in the New Year.
From Parts Unknown: Fight Like a Girl premieres tomorrow night, Saturday 10th January, at the Thornbury Theatre. Doors 6pm, film 7pm, Vixsin VS. Kellyanne 9pm, Mercy Kills 10pm. Tickets $20 on the door or $23.50 via OzTix (plus booking fee). 18+ event.
Image via Strongman Pictures.