In Australia, being an independent filmmaker usually means that you do not rely on support from the government agencies.
Access to filmmaking tools has given birth to a generation of producer/writer/directors who do not wait for applications to be approved, they just go out and do it.
Glenn Triggs is in the final stages of post-production on his fourth feature film The Comet Kids. His first three – Cinemaphobia (2009), 41 (2012) and Apocalyptic (2014) – have played film festivals, some have made their money back, some haven’t, but they’ve all led him to The Comet Kids.
“In order to protect his father’s discovery, Lucas and his five friends go on the adventure of a lifetime to find the piece of a passing comet that lands near their hometown in the 1950s,” Triggs rolls off the synopsis for the film, which he co-wrote with his wife, Bethia De Groot. “At first glance, you might think, ‘yeah I’ve seen that before…wait a minute, a comet, five kids, a dog, 1950s, father’s discovery… maybe I’ve seen something kind of like it – no wait; I haven’t seen this at all! But I love The Goonies and Stand by Me – I’ll watch it!’
“No one is really making films like that anymore. They’re all drowned with cheap CGI and bad comedy. There was a handful of amazing family adventure films in the mid ‘80s to early ‘90s – Flight of the Navigator, The Neverending Story, Explorers and The Sandlot Kids – then they vanished. And we thought The Comet Kids can sit right up on the same shelf with those films.”
Going by the promotional materials and the trailer, plus cast members such as Tiriel Mora (The Castle), singer/actor Marty Rhone and the young Xavier West, who Triggs reckons is the real find here, The Comet Kids has attracted more interest from local film distributors and cinemas than any of the prolific filmmaker’s past films. “There is a thirst for family adventure films!” Triggs proudly claims, and he may be right, with Tomorrow When The War Began developing an audience through its feature film and TV series, and recent family films such as Paper Planes, Oddball, and Red Dog and its sequel, all attracting sizable box office for Australian films.
Triggs had spent 10 months on the script for The Comet Kids to get it just right, but was met with initial resistance because of his pedigree as an indie filmmaker and the associated impatience with waiting for someone else to give you the green light. “We took the project to every studio around and no-one was really interested in it. So after a few months, myself and producer Chris Gibson made the decision to make it on our own. We started out very low budget, I mean really low. Like – if you want an earthquake, just shake the camera – low budget. I’ve had great experience making something for nothing so this was nothing new to me. The lower the budget, the bigger the creative freedoms – unless you need a really good earthquake scene. Eventually we had investors come aboard which has been very helpful!”
Expect a pretty sweet earthquake! “I’ve been editing The Comet Kids for the past 130-something days,” Triggs tells us. “It’s the been the largest project I’ve ever edited with over 14tb of footage – complicated action sequences and a sound design which is giving me nightmares!”
The plan is to release the film in 2017, though a distributor is yet to come aboard. It may all be a little bit ambitious knowing how prolonged strategic release plans tend to get these days, but don’t let that get in the way of an independent filmmaker. “I feel very lucky to be doing what I love doing – the way I want. Ask any filmmaker, pro or small time and most people will say the Australian Film Industry (i.e.; the system) is a very narrow avenue – you may have to leave some things behind to fit through. I never had the urge to be an Australian filmmaker, just someone who makes films, who happens to be in Australia.”
To keep up with The Comet Kids, like their Facebook page. The Comet Kids is in cinemas November 18, 2017