Mandy visits the Oddball set


So we have a lot of deadly animals in Australia (if not all of them), but that doesn’t mean we don’t have some cute ones as well, and boy do we love bringing them to the big screen. From “Skippy the Bush Kangaroo”, to the little pig that could in “Babe”, and more recently the funny and emotionally devastating “Red Dog” (yep, I admit it, there were tears), there is soon to be a new animal flavoured film coming to town.

“Oddball” is the true story of Swampy Marsh (Shane Jacobson), an eccentric chicken farmer who, with the help of his granddaughter, trains his mischievous dog to protect a wild penguin sanctuary from fox attacks, and in the process reunites his family and saves his seaside town.

Now filming in Victoria, Moviehole was recently invited to the set to meet the cast and crew, hang with some little blue penguins, and watch the filming of a key scene on an island that had been entirely recreated in studio.

Here’s some things we learnt:

  • How did this true story get uncovered? Let’s just say in involved a Warrnambool fair, a film producer visiting family in town, and a small card detailing stories from the town’s history. He got Swampy and the penguins, which incidentally would also make a great name for a band (unrelated).
  • How do you cast penguins? Same as actors, with a casting session in which they worked out which penguin personalities meshed well together. Well, they did have to travel from Sea World and they didn’t want any diva tantrums to hold up filming (no really).
  • On set romance? The team specifically picked only single penguins (yet to find a lifelong mate) for the shoot, but while they started with six single penguins, they only ended up with four, as two of the penguins fell in love. Typical co-star romance, fingers crossed their love can survive back in the real (Sea) World.
  • Rescue dogs to the rescue! Animal trainer Luke Hura (Red Dog) found star of the film, Meeka (Oddball), at the Maremma Rescue Society and will adopt him once filming completes (aw).
  • Star on the rise. Little Coco Gillies who plays granddaughter Olivia is fresh off the set of “Mad Max 4” and her “Oddball” co-stars had nothing but exciting things to say about working with the nine year old. Seeing her in action we are calling it – next generation Australian actor on the rise. Watch this space.
  • And finally – not only is Alan Tudyk (“I, Robot”, “Serenity”, “Knocked Up”) able to do the voice of a Disney Duke (most recently heard in “Frozen”), he also does a very impressive Australian accent. Stay tuned for Moviehole’s on set interviews closer to the release date to see how he does.

“Oddball” also stars Shane Jacobson (“Kenny”), Sarah Snook (“These Final Hours”, “Not Suitable for Children”), Richard Davies (“Offspring”), Deborah Mailman (“The Sapphires”) and Frank Woodley (“The Adventures of Lano & Woodley”). Directed by Stuart McDonald (“Summer Heights High”, “Super Fun Night”) the film is due to be released in 2015.