A low budget feature film written, produced and directed by Bond University Film and Television graduates has become an unlikely international success.
Kill Buljo, a parody of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, is the brainchild of Bond University Film and Television Alumnus Tommy Wirkola who co-wrote and co-produced the film in Norway.
The privately funded, $250,000 feature film recently had its distribution rights for the USA, UK and Australia picked up by independent American film studio The Weinstein Co, whose releases also include Hollywood hits Miss Potter, Hannibal Rising and Transamerica.
Kill Buljo has now sold to more than 20 territories including Japan, Poland, Turkey, Germany, Thailand, the Benelux countries, France, Brazil, Israel, Romania, South Africa, Russia, the Baltic countries, Spain, Bulgaria and Portugal. "It is almost surreal to imagine that the film will be seen all over the world, when I think of how small it was, and how we started," Tommy said.
“I'm really looking forward to seeing it dubbed into Japanese and Russian. And the fact that the Weinsteins bought it for the English-speaking territories is great, because that means that Quentin Tarantino will get a chance to see it," he said.
Bond film and television student Liv Ask, who worked as production designer on the film, said it felt very surreal to have their ‘little film’ picked up.
Liv was one of eight Bond students (former and current) who worked on the film in Norway from April – July last year.
The group first met at Bond University where they worked together on short-films Hansel and Gretel Witch-Hunters and Stealing Candy during their studies at the university’s Centre for Film, Television and Screen Based Media.
“Tommy was the year ahead of me at uni but we had worked on a few projects together and stayed in touch after he graduated.
“Early last year he asked me if I wanted to come and work as production designer on this feature called Kill Buljo that he’d been working on a script for.
“It was a great opportunity to broaden my work experience so I decided to defer my studies at Bond for a year and went to Norway for two-and-a-half months for the filming.”
Liv joined the cast and crew, including eight other ‘Bondies’, in the small community of Alta, in northern Norway, where they stayed together in dorms.
“The people were so supportive and friendly, giving us a lot of stuff for the set, lending us their vehicles for transport and the locations we filmed at were mostly free,” she said.
“It was the first full feature film for most of us, so it was tough, crazy, and a lot of fun.
“If something didn’t work, we made it work. It wasn’t a typical 9-till-5 job. In Norway, the sun is up for 22 hours a day, so a lot of the time we were working without knowing whether it was morning or afternoon.
“There was a lot of improvisation. We were on a really tight schedule so we learnt to work fast and make quick decisions,” Liv said.
The hard work paid off, with Kill Buljo doing remarkably well at the box office, attracting over 100,000 moviegoers and now, the attention of the world.
Off the back of their success, the group is reconvening in Norway in March next year to start work on their next feature – an ‘action/ horror/ comedy’ about Nazi Zombies.
It just goes to show that sometimes an original idea and a love of movie-making can triumph in the face of the big-bucks and prestige of Hollywood.