Produced by: Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke
Written by: Yolanda Ramke
Starring: Andy Rodoreda, Alison Gallagher, Ruth Venn
Music by: Helen Grimley
Cinematography: Daniel Foeldes
Editing by: Shannon Longville
Distributed by: Dreaming Tree Productions
Release dates: February 17, 2013 (Australia), May 23, 2014 (USA)
Running time: 7 min
Box office: Unknown
Plot: Stranded in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, a man sets in motion an unlikely plan to protect the precious cargo he carries: his infant daughter.
Info: Who said you can’t try your damned hardest to be an amazing father during a zombie apocalypse? Here’s a superb short film, published on February 17, 2013, that became a finalist in Tropfest Australia 2013. The short is directed by Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke, and produced by Ben Howling, Yolanda Ramke, Marcus Newman, and Daniel Foeldes. This team has formed a collective under the umbrella Dreaming Tree Productions.
We've seen angry zombies, extremely gory zombies, shuffling zombies and smart zombies. We think it's pretty safe, in fact, to say that the whole "zombie" thing has pretty much played itself out (although that probably won't stop it from shuffling along tiredly all the same). What we haven't seen a great deal of in zombies is poignancy and humanity. There's John Ajvide Lindqvist's Handling the Undead and perhaps Shaun of the Dead, just a little, at the end.
And now there's also Cargo, an Australian short film by Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke. It's not about the scares and the gore (although there is a little bit of the latter). Instead, it takes a real human dilemma and puts it smack bang in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. Eschewing the exposition about how the apocalypse came about, it starts with our unnamed protagonist, who's been bitten, with a young child to somehow get to safety. His solution is both ingenious and heartbreaking, elevating zombie fiction in a way we always hoped was possible.
Above is the full Youtube video for Cargo. Keep in mind it is a 7 minute short film. Cargo is a brilliant and beautiful. My only complaint: I wished it didn't ended. I hope they turn it into a full length feature.
Cargo premiered in 2013 at the Tropfest Film Festival in Australia. Surprisingly, it didn't win any awards at the festival. Even though it deserved first place. But, Cargo was nominated for 'Best Editing in a Short Film'. Director Nicholas Clifford walked away as the winner of Tropfest 2013 for his short film We’ve All Been There.
It’s a phenomenon that didn’t really exist before the internet: going viral. The term has come to mean quite a few things and can be applied to all sorts of different scenarios, but in this case, we’re talking about a video that is seen by millions of people in a relatively short amount of time — a near impossibility for the average person just a decade ago. Ben Howling had this exact situation happen to him about a month ago, when the movie he co-directed with Yolanda Ramke for the Australian Tropfest Film Festival was considered a finalist and then posted online, going viral long after. It has now been viewed over 2.7 million times in just a matter of weeks.
Here's a discussion with director Ben Howling about the production and how the sudden success of the film caught the filmmakers off-guard: It was shot on Red One MX, with Zeiss CP2s. Was mostly handheld, with some Steadicam. Pre-production was messy, because Yolanda (Writer/Co-Director) and I were working interstate at the time, whilst our producer and DOP (also a producer) were doing the ground work and recces to help find locations. Landing Andy Rodoreda was a big coup for us, because he’s had some leading feature roles over here, and we didn’t think he’d be interested in a little short film concept.
When we contacted his agent, he informed us that Andy had recently stepped away from acting, but he was happy to pass on the script – and from there, Andy liked the script, and the rest was history. Everything was sorted via emails and drop box. Yolanda and I were back in Sydney 3 days before shooting. We shot it over the course of a weekend, had 2 weeks for post, which was made even tighter because it was around Christmas time, so people were flat out with end of year deadlines, and going away for Christmas. Our Composer was actually working on Christmas day for us!
From there, we entered it into Tropfest, were listed as a Finalist, had a great time but ultimately didn’t place on the night. Since then, we’ve submitted to other festivals, and been invited to screen at others. But then, out of nowhere, Cargo was picked up and screened on Buzzfeed and Sourcefednews.com, and the video took on a life of its own from there. Part of the T’s and C’s with Tropfest is that they own the rights to distribute the film as they see fit, so they put all finalists online. Ideally, if you’re submitting to other festivals, you don’t want that, but in this case, it’s worked out well for us and garnered more exposure than we would have had hope for on the festival circuit.
After the film was picked up by a number of different outlets online, it blew up. The response to Cargo has been overwhelming, to say the least. We’ve had people from major agencies and studios in the USA and UK reach out to us, and off the back of that we’re now organizing a trip to LA to meet with them. Moving forward, we’re currently developing our next short film with plans to go into production later this year, and we have a slate of feature concepts which we are also developing, with the intent to make our feature debut in the near future.
His advice to anyone releasing a film: For anyone else who is planning to release a short film in the near future, my advice would be to be prepared. Have your next project ready to go, so that if it were to start gaining viral traction, you can capitalize; whether that’s via talks with agencies and studios, or launching a kick starter campaign to fund the next project.
I think his last point is something everyone should keep in mind. You never really know if a movie you’re making will find its way onto millions of screens, so having a few projects ready to go isn’t a bad idea. I know for film festivals, if you catch the eye of a producer or agent, it can help to have other material prepared (like scripts) or at least an outline of a number of different movie ideas. Even if you release a short and it doesn’t go viral, having a strategy for getting the movie out there and getting it seen by as many people as possible is important if you want to take advantage of any possible exposure.
Editors note: I was watching a documentary on Netflix the other night called Doc of the Dead. It was actually a very good documentary, covering almost everything zombies. Not to be confused with the George Romero documentary, Document of the Dead. But, it was showing clips of different zombie movies. Most I recognized right away. Then it showed this clip that caught my attention titled Cargo. I was so impressed by the clip I decided to research it further. Come to find out Cargo was a short film that was made in 2013. This 7 minute short film made in Australia blew me away. Cargo was a Tropfest Australia 2013 Finalist. Cargo received a 7.7/10 rating at IMDb. The only complaint I had I wished it didn't ended and hope they turn this into a full movie. Cargo is beautiful and brilliant.