The Story of the Saga of The Ballad of Maddog Quinn


In late March of 2013 the NZFC announced the films to be made under the 2013 round of Premiere Shorts. Among those titles was Matt Inns’ The Ballad of Maddog Quinn, chosen by EP pod Blue Harvest (Steve Barr, Daniel Story and the late Paul Swadel).

Unlike many of the EP pods over the years, Blue Harvest specifically sought genre proposals rather than arthouse. Blue Harvest’s pitch to filmmakers said, “We are searching for highly skilled filmmaker teams to make short films that demonstrate mainstream commercial tastes. Visceral films that will make an audience laugh or cry or jump in their seats.”

Matt InnsPhoto: Tammy Williams

Matt Inns
Photo: Tammy Williams

Blue Harvest cited shorts including Alive in Joberg by Neill Blomcamp (District 9) and Panic Attack by Fede Alvarez (who was, at the time, in NZ directing the remake of Evil Dead) as the sort of projects they would like to see put forward.

Long before Blue Harvest made its call for submissions, Quinn writer and director Matt Inns had been developing his idea, already working steadily toward making the film. In 2011 he shot pre-test footage with DoP Ashley McKenzie to help pitch the idea to prospective funders.

In an interview with the Southland Times in early 2012 Inns described the project as “a cross between Mad Max and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”. The proposed short had received support from Film Otago Southland and $15,000 from the Invercargill Licensing Trust.

A graduate of the Southern Institute of Technology who’d interned on Robert Sarkies’ Southland-shot Two Little Boys, Inns was committed to keeping the project close to home and shooting it in the South Island.

The landscape and vistas were perfect for a Western, and it wasn’t only Inns that thought so. When he was shooting his pre-tests for Quinn, Mike Wallis was shooting his independent Western Good for Nothing in the South Island. By the time Inns shot Quinn John Maclean’s Sundance-premiered Slow West, starring Michael Fassbender, was also shooting around Canterbury.

The Ballad of Maddog QuinnPhoto: Tammy Williams

The Ballad of Maddog Quinn
Photo: Tammy Williams

Blue Harvest received a good number of submissions for its Premiere Shorts call and, in late November 2012, the pod announced the five titles it had shortlisted. Quinn, with Melissa Dodds as producer, was joined on the Blue Harvest shortlist by Luke Anastassiou-Hedley’s Sunny, Paul Campion’s Vampire Domestication, Ferand Peek’s Mercenary, and Cradle, written by Hugh Calveley, produced by Tom Hern & Luke Robinson but at that time without a director attached.

Five months later, when Blue Harvest’s Premiere Short selections were announced in March 2013, Damon Duncan was on board to direct Cradle, which was chosen alongside Quinn for support.

Cradle had its premiere as a finalist in this year’s NZ’s Best line-up at the recent NZIFF and has just been named a finalist at Show Me Shorts.

Blue Harvest said of Inns’ short, “Maddog Quinn tells a clever and fast-paced story in a dystopian ‘salvagepunk’ story world. Matt Inns has the commitment, vision and skills to become a successful feature writer/director in the international market. He is ably supported by producer Melissa Dodds, who is coming off the low-budget production experience of Existence and has several shorts and features in active development.”

Quinn’s producer Melissa Dodds was also the producer for Louise Leitch’s Dancers, written by Casey Whelan, which was selected as a Premiere Short by Robin Scholes’ pod.

Inns shot The Ballad of Maddog Quinn in the first half of 2014. The images posted on Facebook from the shoot looked great.

The Ballad of Maddog QuinnPhoto: Tammy Williams

The Ballad of Maddog Quinn
Photo: Tammy Williams

However, what should have been a strong step forward in the career of a young filmmaker has become an ongoing trail of paperwork, of back and forth suggestions, offers, threats and an absence of progress. The production had gone quite some way over budget, and attempts to solve that problem continue to prevent The Ballad of Maddog Quinn from being completed.

To be continued…


Written by Keith Barclay

Keith is the editor of SCREENZ, and the co-creator and founding editor of CREWED.