26 June 2024

'It's very silly': Dane Simpson battles gun-toting birds in The Emu War

| Chris Roe
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Aaron Gocs and Dane Simpson do battle in<em> The Emu War</em>

Aaron Gocs and Dane Simpson do battle in The Emu War. Photo: Umbrella Entertainment.

“I don’t think there’s any sort of movie like this around in Australia right now,” said Wagga comedian Dane Simpson with a laugh.

“It’s very silly and very fun and I like to think it’s got the makings of a cult classic.”

The Emu War is an absurd, over-the-top, gag-a-minute, gross-out comedy that opened in a handful of metropolitan cinemas over the weekend.

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Dane worked with the small creative team from Hot Dad Productions on the script and plays an M16-toting soldier on a mission to battle Australia’s favourite flightless bird.

“It was my first time involved in writing and actually acting in a major role and it was just the most incredible experience I’ve ever been a part of,” he reflected.

“It’s very much a spoof in the same sort of category as something like The Naked Gun and I think within the first 10 to 30 seconds of the movie you’ll know what you’re in for.”

The cast and crew are hoping that their low budget gag-fest develops a cult following. Photo: Umbrella Entertainment.

The story is an extremely loose reimagining of an actual historical mission in which the Australian Army attempted to gun down an estimated 20,000 crop-stealing emus in WA in 1932.

Equipped with weaponised vehicles, machine guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition, the real Emu War quickly descended into farce and very few birds were actually destroyed.

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After being resoundingly outsmarted by their prey, Commanding Officer Major Gwynydd Purves Wynne-Aubrey Meredith remarked that, “If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world … They can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks”.

<em>The Emu War</em> takes a real historical event to ludicrous extremes.

The Emu War takes a real historical event to ludicrous extremes. Photo: Umbrella Entertainment.

The movie takes this premise to an absurd extreme, pitting a small force of soldiers against heavily armed emus and features cameos from bushranger Ned Kelly, Australia’s missing Prime Minister Harold Holt and explorers Burke and Wills.

“Ever since I met (comedian) Jonathan Schuster about 10 years ago he’s been talking about the Emu War and saying that one day he’ll make this movie, so it was his brainchild,” said Dane.

“I was lucky enough to get involved and we all just sat around and wrote the script, which was actually meant to be a web series, but in the end, they managed to put together a 70-minute movie.”

<em>The Emu War</em> is an over-the-top reimagining of a real historical event.

The Emu War is an over-the-top reimagining of a real historical event. Photo: Umbrella Entertainment.

A grant from Screen Australia helped to propel the project forward and it premiered at Melbourne’s Monster Fest in October last year.

“It had this massive release at the Monster Festival last year and it won best picture, which is incredible and beyond our wildest dreams of what we imaged for this,” Dane laughed.

“Now it’s had its proper cinema release, only in a few cinemas, but cinemas nonetheless in Brissie, Sydney and Melbourne and we’ll bring it over to Wagga on 20 July, which will be really fun.

“The director Jay Morrissey will be over and we’ll make it a real event so I hope people will come and watch it and just really enjoy it.”

The Emu War will screen at the CSU Riverside Playhouse on 20 July and you can get tickets through Wagga’s Civic Theatre.

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