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The last time we saw Australian filmmaker Andrew Traucki
(pictured), he was floating around the location of the shark thriller THE REEF
and thinking about box jellyfish. This time, Fango catches him on a late-night
phone call from his Sydney base, finding him tired but happy to divulge some
details on THE JUNGLE, the new film on which he’s knee-deep in last-minute
preproduction, and his contribution to the upcoming anthology THE ABCs OF
Traucki sees THE JUNGLE, for which Lightning Entertainment
has already picked up worldwide sales rights, as the last installment in what
he likes to call “Traucki’s Trilogy of Terror,” following REEF and his previous
croc shocker BLACK WATER (co-written/directed with David Nerlich). “It’s got a
nice ring to it, three T’s,” he laughs, before adding that he also thinks of it
as THREE COLORS: RED. Set to be shot in Australia and Indoensia, THE JUNGLE “is
about a big-cat conservationist named Larry Black who goes to Indonesia to save
the Java leopard, which really is on the verge of extinction,” Traucki tells
Fango. “He’s joined by a couple of local men; one is a trapper, the other is
like the administrative guy. They go into the jungle to catch leopards and tag
them. There, they discover something much bigger and nastier.”
Snappy dialogue ensues:
FANGORIA: So the
predator creature mightn’t be a cat?
FANG: Why set it in
TRAUCKI: It was too
much like an urban myth to set in Australia.
FANG: So it’s not an
Indonesia urban myth, is it then?
TRAUCKI: No, it’s my
urban myth [laughs].
FANG: They’re the
Relieved not to be going back into the water, Traucki does
dive into discussing his struggle to come up with a menace for the last of his
trilogy, and how he arrived at the concept for THE JUNGLE. “Originally, we were
going to have little creatures in the tunnels beneath Sydney, and then THE
TUNNEL came out and f**k that! Then I had an idea for a UFO-based film, and I
heard that the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY guy was doing AREA 51. Then I reached for
the idea of THE JUNGLE. At the same time, I saw a documentary about a bear in
Peru, the one Paddington Bear had been based on. They’d discovered that this
bear, which they thought had only existed on fruit, was also a practicing
carnivore. It started to knock off the neighbor’s cows. So I just went from
For the location where he intends to film, Traucki has ended
up in a jungle of which he claims, “It’s very disorientating. At night it’s
pitch black, and if you lose your orientation with the track, you are lost.
It’s very important to remember which way you came in. It’s amazing. You set up
a shot and think, ‘Wow, this is the shot,’ and then come across the back of a
tree covered in tape and you realize you’ve already been there.”
Filming of THE JUNGLE will take place over “a pretty tight
[schedule of] three to four six-day weeks,” the filmmaker says. “I need a quick
turnaround on this one. I’ve got to turn it in by the end of the year. It’s
money restrictions, really; it’s a low-budget film”—a budget that’s actually
less than that of BLACK WATER. “If I’d gone down the conventional route, I’d
still be out there raising finances. This was an opportunity to take a smaller
amount of money and run with it. It’s a long process making these films, and I
just wanted to shorten that process. It’s got a downside, but the upside is
that I got my film made. Hopefully, it’ll be good.”
Once it’s wrapped up, Traucki admits that he’ll be moving
away from animal horror: “Yeah, about time I stepped into the horror of real
humanity and had humans doing things. I mean, we’re the real dangers, aren’t
we?” And Traucki wasn’t idle in the intervening period between completing THE
REEF and launching THE JUNGLE, finding a spare day to shoot his contribution to THE ABCs of DEATH. “I’m the only Australian, and I got
the letter G. The object was to go and make something three to four minutes
long, which I did—killing with G. A nice little project. The weird thing is, I
don’t know what anybody else has done. It’ll be interesting to see what the mix
is. I’m sure some will be incredibly violent, so I went the other way and tried
to keep it less violent. It’ll be a very interesting collection of films.
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