Wolves in Outback Australia

Wolf Creek

 With Wolf Creek 2 about to be unleashed on the world, it may be time to look back at the career of writer/director Greg McLean.

He has written, directed, and produced all his films except for Red Hill (2010).

McLean first trained as a fine artist, but then went on to complete a graduate diploma in directing, finishing through the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), one of Australia’s finest film academies. After graduation, McLean moved into the world of theatre, working with theatre director Neil Armfield, and with Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin at Opera Australia.

Plead, his first attempt at short filmmaking, won a Gold award from the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS). After his second short film, ICQ, screened at the prestigious New York International Independent Film and Video Festival – winning “Best Director of a Short Film”, it then screened at other festivals. On return to his home soil in Australia, McLean’s film was nominated for Best Sound Design (short film) for the prestigious AFI (Australian Film Institute) awards for 2002. He then formed his own production company, Greg McLean Film, and made more of a name for himself producing television commercials.

In 2005, McLean independently created his first full-length film. Wolf Creek was produced with a small budget of around AU$1 million, yet earned nearly $30 million in the box office, let alone taking DVD distribution into account. It was inspired and very loosely based on two sets of real events (influenced by the Ivan Milat and Bradley John Murdoch* cases, but it was not based specifically on any one event) and was filmed in less than a month.

The film has gone on to achieve cult status around the world. When it was released, it received a mixed reception from critics, but its lasting popularity amongst horror lovers shows that it is here to stay.

*Murdoch’s trial was still underway when the film was released, so it banned from being shown in that state until the trial ended, as there were fears it could influence the jury.

Mick Taylor: “I was doing people a service really, by shooting them. There’s kangaroos all over the place… like tourists.”

McLean’s next film, Rogue, is one of my favourites. Set once more in the Australian outback, the film tells the story of a group of tourists on a trip through the waters of Kakadu National Park, renowned for its crocodile and other wildlife, but they are attacked and stalked by a giant killer crocodile. At ten metres long, this croc doesn’t bugger around, and soon enough the thrills keep coming. The special croc effects in Rogue are of particular note, and have always made me feel like they caught a 30-foot croc and used it to film the movie.

McLean’s next two projects included Red Hill, a 2010 Australian neo-western/thriller film written and directed by Patrick Hughes and co-produced by Greg McLean, and then McLean produced the soon-to-be-released independent Justin Dix thriller Crawlspace.

The next step forward was, of course, Wolf Creek 2. After some budget and finance issues, the film was given the green light with funding from Screen Australia after the previous major back, Geoffrey Edelstein, pulled out.

With filming taking place in South Australia throughout early 2013, the post-production is  now finalised and the film is ready for distribution. Wolf Creek 2 will be distributed by Roadshow Films with international sales by Arclight Films. Image Entertainment has picked up all North American rights to Wolf Creek 2. The film will premiere in Australian theatres on February 20.

In other Wolf Creek news, there are now two prequel novels due for release on January2, 2014. Wolf Creek: Origins (Greg McLean and Aaron Sterns) begins the back story of Mick Taylor’s psychotic rampages, showing his early life as a worker in outback Australia, struggling with the impact of his sister’s grisly death. Wolf Creek: Desolation Game (Greg McLean and Brett McBean) continues on, showing Taylor’s time in the horror of the Vietnamese war, and the sadistic pleasure he takes in stalking and killing a load of tourists once he returns to Australia.

There are four more books planned in the series, to be written by some of Australia’s best horror scribes.


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