Bendigo filmmaker Greg McLean has more Mick Taylor for all of us, Chris Pedler writes.
Outback terror Mick Taylor is returning to the silver screen in Febuary and Bendigo filmmaker Greg McLean is excited about it.
McLean grew up in Bendigo on a farm between Strathfieldsaye and Emu Creek.
He said he was always fascinated by films and made a number of short films near Mandurang and Faraday where the hills and bushlands are “fantastic and very cinematic”.
It was the backdrop provided the first inspirations for Mick Taylor, an Outback bushman with a penchant for kidnapping and torturing tourists.
He’s a fascinating character to explore.
“I was writing a thriller story about six years before Wolf Creek (2005) was made, that dealt with a psychotic killer in the Outback menacing a busload of tourists,” McLean said.
“I developed this idea for many years and it eventually – after many, many revisions – became the Wolf Creek screenplay.
“So much of my early experiences growing up on a farm around Strathfieldsaye and Emu Creek found their way into the first film and the creation of Mick Taylor.
“As a kid I was always hearing creepy stories about the bush, the Outback, odd characters and strange occurances. Stories from a rural world that’s pretty much vanished these days. I guess you’d call it Australian folklore.”
John Jarratt also brings a lot of the Mick Taylor terror to the character. So much so that Quentin Tarantino called him “one of the great horror film heavies of the last 25 years.”
“If that part in the movie was cast wrong we would not be talking about it nearly a decade later,” McLean said.
“(John) comes from an even earlier generation of “bushies” and was steeped in folklore and characters and sayings I’d never heard before.
“He knew Mick and the kind of characters that Mick was based on personally because he’d grown up with them in Outback Queensland.
“So he bought another dimension of authenticity to the character which complemented and fleshed Mick out to be a living and breathing personality.
“It’s actually really fun working with John as a director because he brings so much to it creatively. It’s a very dynamic process.”
The combination of folklore, urban legends and strange characters and occurances seeped into the creation of Mick Taylor and Wolf Creek.
It’s a world McLean loves to explore. So much so that he, Aaron Sterns and Brett McBean have written two books that delve deeper into Mick Taylor’s backstory.
Wolf Creek Origin is a prequel to the first film that takes us back to Taylor’s childhood days when he dealt with the death of his sister.
After finding out what made Mick Taylor a killer, the second book, Wolf Creek: Desolation Game, is set during the Vietnam War and sees Taylor turn from amatuer killer to professional.
The books are filled with details and plots that Wolf Creek fans will love but McLean says they are character-based thrillers that fans of good stories (with a darker edge) will love.
“There were so many questions from the first film: ‘Who is this guy? Where did he come from? What was he doing before this story?’ that I began to imagine his early life up to the point of the first movie,” McLean said.
“I thought they were stories worth telling. He’s a fascinating character to explore.”
McLean came up with the idea for the books about three years ago and admits co-authors Sterns and McBean were integral to the development.
“Once the idea hit and I found a publisher who loved the idea, I then had to develop the storylines further and find my co-authors,” McLean said.
“Finding my collaborators was really important as the project needed other writers who understood the character and his world and the tone I was trying to capture in the books. I think we’ve acheived that.”
But for all the backstory and personal details that fans can find out about Taylor, McLean likes to remind people you can never know the mind of a psychopath.
“That’s why they’re a psychopath – because they’ll show you the face they need you to see for their purposes at that moment. And Mick is most certainly a very frightening personalitiy that no-one can ever understand. Myself included,” McLean said.
“That said, each book is totally stand alone in that its goal is to be a great story and an entertaining and thrilling ride. Much like the second film is stand alone – it builds on the first one but it’s a stand alone story.”
So can Mick Taylor ever be stopped?
“It’s unknown. Problem is he’s the apex predator in his realm, which is the entire Outback. So he’s impossible to find, harder to kill and always 20 steps ahead,” McLean admits.
“It would take a small army probably. And even then they may not return from their mission.”
Wolf Creek 2 will be released in February but has already been screened at the Venice Film Festival – something that was an honour for McLean.
“The reaction was pretty awesome.
"The press screening was important as it’s a huge cinema packed with the world’s elite entertainment reporters,” McLean said.
“We had great reviews in Variety and Hollywood Reporter, which started people talking about the movie internationally as being something special.
“The festival screening was just one of those nights as a filmmaker you live for.”
Cleary the nine years between Wolf Creek and its sequel has worked for McLean. Between the two films he also directed Rogue, a thriller about a monster crocodile that torments tourists on a boat in the Outback.
“(The break) is probably responsible for a better movie. No-one making any (film) knows what’s going to be popular or work or catch on. So when something does, like the first Wolf Creek movie, you naturally try to work it out.
“Why did that movie connect and hundreds, if not thousands, do not? So having the time to think about how to make a worthy sequel to the first one has definately paid off.”
Wolf Creek 2 is out on February 20. McLean’s books Wolf Creek: Origin and Wolf Creek: Desolation Game are available at www.penguin.com.au or at any good book store.