Would you tangle with the demon of Ashburn Waters?
David Pether, a Townsville local, has gone on a six-year adventure to produce a full feature film, Ashburn Waters, which will screen at Townsville’s Event Cinema this week, before hitting Melbourne’s IMAX theatre and the Brisbane big screen next month.
The Horror film follows a group of high school friends who have reunited for a camping trip. The friends find themselves camping at Ashburn Waters, which – unbeknown to them – was closed due to a series of unexplained murders. Now one by one this group of campers is falling victim too.
A premiere screening of Ashburn Waters was held for an exclusive audience in Townsville last November; and impressed audiences at its first outing.
The story is fun, scary and successfully breaks from clichés to create a unique story and fresh take on the Horror genre. Each of the main characters is fleshed out: you feel for some and hope others go face to face with the demon of Ashburn Waters. The visual and prosthetic effects are convincing and draw you closer into the story; and the costume of the demon is a real highlight. It is evident that a lot of love and time that went into this movie.
We caught up with David to learn why he decided to make Ashburn Waters and the creative decisions that went into the film.
Where did the inspiration for Ashburn Waters come from?
I’ve always been a huge horror movie buff, my favourite movies being the Friday the 13th franchise, and that’s when it hit me: I needed to make a camping horror movie. It could be done with a small crew, isolated sets and the best thing about horror is that you don’t need ‘name’ actors to sell it. In fact, the genre almost always thrives the cheaper and nastier it is! Ashburn Waters is our love letter to horror, slashers and creature features of the 80s, but with our own little Aussie flare.
What is it about the horror genre that you love?
My general love for the genre definitely stems from the rollercoaster of emotion that a horror movie can take you on. Not only can they scare the pants of you and cause you to have many a sleepless night, but when you’ve been through some truly tormenting sequences with a film’s characters, that leaves you open to some beautiful moments that can be found from comedic relief or when the film’s terror really drives home a powerful theme or message. There are just so many layers to good horror.
How are you setting this film apart from horror clichés?
The main problem I find with a good number of horror films are weak, stereotypical characters. Sure, we’re all here to see them die in the most fun and grotesque ways, but it just means so much more when you actually care about them! So, when writing the script, I made every effort to create ‘real’ characters with ‘real’ issues. Then people start dying and that just adds to their problems!
How did growing up in Townsville shaped your approach to film-making?
It was during high school in the early 2000s that I really found my passion for filmmaking. My mates and I used to borrow my uncles video camera on weekends and during school holidays where we set out to recreate our favourite film, Jurassic Park. Using toy dinosaurs, we would use creative angles to make it look like the dinos were towering over us. It was from there that we started to take it a little more seriously, and the great thing about starting out in Townsville was that, at that time, there really wasn’t much of a filmmaking scene. The filmmaking process can get complicated and the industry can sometimes be really cut-throat and unforgiving, but I always think back to those days in my back yard with the toy dinosaurs and remember ‘We’re just telling stories. This should be fun!’”
David’s brother, Adam Pether, also appears in Ashburn Waters and said the film has been a labour of love.
Ashburn Waters is a homegrown film that has so much of our heart and soul in it (mostly David’s!!) Everyone on this set was volunteering and was just there because we loved what were doing. Right now, we just want people to see the film. It’s been a journey getting to here and we want to share what we’ve made with the world. If I could ask people anything, it would be to follow the Ashburn Waters Facebook page and stay tuned for when a screening is going to be near you. I am so proud of what we’ve created and I think anyone will really enjoy it!
Catch Ashburn Waters in Townsville on 24 January 2020.