Various American friends and acquaintances occasionally express bemusement at the Aussie idioms than crop up in my writing and the slang we Antipodeans occasionally toss into the conversation. The term “Yowie” is one such. Since my childhood, I’ve used it and heard it used as an exclamation of surprise, probably spelt “Yowee!”, as in “Yowee! I nearly stepped on that black snake!” More commonly, however, a “Yowie” is an Aussie cryptid, supposedly deriving from Aboriginal legend. A large, hairy, humanoid critter somewhat akin to the Yeti or Bigfoot, the Yowie frequents isolated bushland, and “sightings” go back to colonial days. It’s easy to see where the term-of-surprise meaning might relate to the cryptozoological beastie: “Yowee! I ran into a Yowie out there when I was takin’ a whizz!”
Oddly, the Probert Encyclopedia reckons “Yowie” is a slang term for a cat! Where did that come from?
Now Undead Backbrain has been alerted to an Aussie film called Yowie, written and directed by Cole Bayford. This one has a cryptozoological bent.
Yowie is an ultra-low budget independent short film and a graduate project for the Griffith University Film School: Bachelor of Film and Screen Media Production Program. It’s set in bush near Springbrook, NSW, a common and recent location for Yowie sightings. Bayford commented that “The bush and natural scenery around Murwillumbah provides an excellent backdrop to the story as well as giving an authentic look at the Australian camping experience. The beautiful mountain vista, the thick bush climb, the peaceful mountain clearing, the secluded campsite, the late night campfire and the desperate bush road escape were all achievable at our location and we aim to shed some light on the beauty of Australia beyond the outback.”
On the film’s themes he said:
The themes in Yowie are of young love, jealousy and the ‘what if’. What would you do if you witnessed a death in the bush? Yowie explores the reality of basic human instincts and reactions. The film showcases the strength of relationships and the importance of communication between people in terror. The story delves into the speed of emotional change and rising paranoia’s effect on decisions.
Hence the film’s tagline: “Tragedy can uncover your innermost truths.”
When James mistakes a friendly bushman for a monstrous Yowie he shoots him dead. Will he and Vivian’s relationship be strong enough to get them through and escape the Aussie bush?
Rupert Raineri and Anna Kennedy
Deep in the Australian bush, a legend lies dormant. In an effort to rekindle their relationship a couple drives into the hills for a romantic retreat. James and Vivian find themselves caught between a breakdown in their relationship and a fight for survival against a mysterious beast. What seemed like a new beginning is now a terrible encounter with the unknown. After James mistakes Angus, a harmless bushman, for the Yowie, he shoots him dead. The only way they can endure is to find a way to trust each other again, which, in this extreme situation, is easier said than done. Will they survive the night? And if they do, where will they stand after all that’s happened? This myth is deadly…
“A younger audience and those of all ages who love tension and drama can sink their teeth into this psychological thriller,” Bayford added.
The film, which runs for about 10 minutes, will be doing the festival circuit during 2011. It was produced by Jarred Bocca and stars Rupert Raineri, Anna Kennedy and Brendan Smoother. Other crew members are:
- Cinematographer – David Jeffery
- 1st AD – Jonathan Martin
- Editor – Kiran Sangherra
- Production Design – Kelly McLeod
- Hair/Make Up – Amanda Rieck
- Creature Design – Kelsey Silk
- Grip/Gaffer – Matthew Crump
- Camera Assistant – Michael Sloane
- Sound Design/Recordist – David Thibault
- Sound Assist/Boom – Miki Clarke
- Continuity – Sally Wortley
- Graphic Design – Sara Quine
- Catering – Whitney Hale
- Catering Assistant/Runner – Roman Albert
- Stunt/Safety Coordinator – Darko Tuskan
- Armourer – Steve Courtney
- Original Score – Christopher Clark
Director Cole Bayford and cinematographer David Jeffery set up a shot