Daniel Krige might be a successful writer and director with a feature film about to open in Japan, but as a teenager his life was headed in a decidedly different direction.
“I was doing a lot of the things other Mountains teenagers were doing at that time, just smoking dope and drinking booze in the bush and all that kind of stuff,” said the former Springwood High School student.
Despite being inspired to write a script after doing work experience on hit television drama A Country Practice, Krige left school at 15 and got a job on the railways.
But his life changed when he met Australian television icon Tony Morphett — the writing talent behind many hit shows including Water Rats and Blue Heelers.
“I knocked on his door when I was 15 or 16 with a script I’d written and he was kind enough to read it, and he basically became my mentor after that,” said Mr Krige. “I was writing professionally by the time I was 17.”
Now 42, the self-proclaimed former stoner is currently acting in a new Australian comedy, Backyard Ashes, while his second directing effort has just been released on DVD in Australia and will open in cinemas in Japan next month.
A horror/satire, Redd Inc screened at the recent Blue Mountains Film Festival where Mr Krige was happy to report it was well-received.
“The audience cringed and laughed and jumped in all the appropriate places,” he said.
Redd Inc has generated buzz among horror aficionados by snaring the services of award-winning special effects and make-up artist, Tom Savini. “In the horror world he is basically known as the godfather of gore,” said Mr Krige.
The Aussie director was happy to play second fiddle to the American who is famous for his work on horror classics like Friday the 13th and Dawn of the Dead.
“One thing I learnt when I came on to this job is that horror fans don’t really care who directs the movie, they want to know who’s doing the gore,” he said.
“To me it’s just about making the best movie possible. It’s not about blowing my own trumpet.”
While movie buffs might be getting excited by the guy behind the gore, the hook for everyone else is Redd Inc’s setting: the soulless world of the contemporary office. Its lead character is a vicious boss (played by AFI-winner Nicholas Hope) who traps his victims and forces them to work in an office of his own insane creation.
“That was one of the things that I really liked when I read the script. I’d never seen a horror movie set in an office before,” said Mr Krige.
With Japan’s strong corporate and office culture, the movie’s producers hope Redd Inc will pack in cinemas when it opens on November 1.
“We’re hoping it strikes a chord. The Japanese love their horror,” said Mr Krige.
After finishing acting duties on Backyard Ashes he will turn his attention to potential future projects including directing a psychological thriller in the United States and continuing work on an original comedy idea.
It’s all a long way from his first short film, a mockumentary that shed light on a subculture he was only too familiar with. Released in 1994, Our Feral Friends was set in the seldom seen world of drink and drugs in the Blue Mountains.
“[It was] based on real guys at Faulconbridge at the time,” said its director.
But not Daniel Krige anymore.