Sam Curtain’s Low Budget Feature Packs a Punch, Literally

Sam Curtain stands among the few who are taking it upon themselves to show the industry that success doesn’t lie in the numbers, but in the product. His new low budget feature, Beaten to Death, most recently played at Fantastic Fest in Australia with a slew of other highly regarded film festivals on its resume.

“It really was just us,” says Curtain. The team behind the film consisted of a skeleton crew, with Curtain directing, shooting and editing. His co-writer and long-time friend, Benjamin Jung-Clarke took on the role of producer and sound recordist.

“I love making films with my buddies. This team, we’ve known each other for 20 years since high school,” Curtain shares.

Beaten to Death follows Jack, as he makes a desperate choice, leading him down a path that leaves him beaten and bruised, struggling against man, nature, and his own insanity.

“Because we are all friends, it was quite fun. The downside is we had next to no resources,” Curtain says about the making of the film. “So, you sort of have to double up on roles but you also don’t have the pressure of a huge studio looking over your shoulder, so you can move quite quick. There is good and bad to it.”

The film follows in the storied tradition of Ozploitation.

“One of my favourite Australian movies ever is Razorback,” Curtain shares. “It’s just visually stunning and one that I tried to draw a lot on while making Beaten to Death. The whole time I was just like, ‘how does this guy [director Russell Mulcahy] do it’.”

Curtain also draws his inspiration from ‘70s horror, which he says is “some of the nastier stuff.” Speaking to the extreme nature of the film, he comments that “I never take it particularly seriously in movies, and when something isn’t taken seriously, you can have fun with it.”

Unfortunately, in the present climate of mass content production, many films are lost in the haze. Particularly those that aren’t funded by government bodies or the big streamers.  “A lot of low budget stuff gets made in Australia; it just seems to fly completely under the radar,” says Curtain. “What we found particularly difficult was being in Tasmania. Because we’re down there, it is harder for us to get to all the networking events and get the word out. Tasmania does have its own small scene, but it doesn’t quite have strong ties with the bigger and wider industry machine.”

Regardless of the lack of resources and big industry backing, Beaten to Death has been a fan favourite within genre circles. Recently, the film was picked up by Welcome Villain films in the US for distribution, with plans for a theatrical release in the summer of 2023.

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