“Australian bush folklore has always had a lead character, but now it’s getting it’s own story.”
November 2019: Producers Ben McNeill and Katrina Lubans of Brisbane-based production company Intrinsic Story have announced the development of a new feature film based around Australia’s revered ‘Drop Bears’, creatures of folklore with mysterious origins that have haunted tourists and amused locals for generations.
A teaser trailer released online with the #ThreatIsReal hashtag has racked up heavy engagement in recent days, with over 250,000 views across Facebook and Intrinsic’s other social channels. The decision to produce the teaser was made as part of the company’s development approach of building and engaging an audience hard and early, shaping further strategy with deep analysis of the audience data obtained.
“Theatrical release for Australian films is a challenging endeavour at the best of times but we have a character that is well loved by Aussies and a compelling story to tell. We have an opportunity to tease that and intrigue an audience from early development, channelling that interest into a production journey that, like our star, can be widely shared”, says Lubans.
Titled Drop, the film’s director is yet to be announced, with McNeill penning the 100-minute script as dramatic horror in genre and solemn in tone. Set on a remote sheep farm, the film tells of a family struggling to keep their property and livelihood intact in the face of horrific drought and encroaching bushfires, as the terrifying creature is forced into a world that has elected to forget it. With themes of truth, natural disaster, invasion and differing perspectives of identity, Drop will offer an ambitious and patriotic story for all Australians.
McNeill explains “As a nation of nations, we have legends built on legends and we have characters like the drop bear. Everyone knows it, but there is no one story about where it came from or why it exists, and we have a very intriguing idea behind that which goes beyond the idea of the creature as a joke. The film will offer a moving story that challenges us to look within, look to our history, and ask ourselves if this creature is symbolic perhaps of something deeper, something we continue to tussle with as a country. As such, it might not be a story we expect as a nation – but we believe it’s the story we need.”
McNeill, 35, was a producer and driving force behind the poignant organ transplant feature Dying to Live, released to cinemas in 2018 by Madman and Demand.Film, and later televised by SBS. The film stirred Australians to think about their future, and its distribution utilised a powerful social impact campaign funded through Documentary Australian Foundation and Good Pitch Australia.
The Drop producing duo have launched a $50,000 Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to support a ‘Proof of Concept’ short for funders and the wider market, complementing further development funding through screen agencies and private investors. The feature, to be shot in Queensland and New South Wales with an expected budget of $4m, is slated to descend upon cinemas in late 2021 following an expected festival campaign.