Lieutenant Jangles is an over the top satire of the 80’s buddy cop genre with an Australian twist, both set and filmed in the City of Brisbane.
The entire concept was inspired by the fake trailers in Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez’s Grindhouse double feature, and, after seeing how a film like Hobo with a shotgun managed to translate to a full-fledged feature from its fake trailer origins. Much like Peter Jackson’s early films, this was shot on weekends over a number of years with friends. The humour and structure are heavily influenced by the things I love and grew up on, things like; Beavis and Butt-head, South Park and Troma films to name a few.
The film is designed to embrace the 80’s action/cop genre, while also being a satire of it at the same time. I embraced some stereotypes but wanted to take a left turn at others, because even though this was something you’ve seen before, I also wanted it to be something you hadn’t seen before. It satirises familiar tropes like; the female love interest having no character and being basically useless until the inevitable sex scene, the villain having to be a “foreign threat”, and the whole over the top masculinity of 80’s films in general.
Our titular hero is not a slick tough guy who always says the right thing and saves the day, he’s a schlubby, selfish man-baby, who obliviously causes chaos and anything slightly heroic on his part is completely by accident. He’s been quite accurately described as the love child of Crocodile Dundee and Ron Burgandy.
80’s movie villains are always one note tough guys who have a pool surrounded by girls in bikinis and are either selling drugs or want to blow something up or something. I went the complete opposite of every villain I’ve ever seen before, and I also needed someone who would mirror Jangles’ ridiculousness. The villain and his henchman are like a European Mr Burns and Smithers archetype, and their “evil plan” ties in with the satire of 80’s masculinity.
Instead of just being “nostalgia porn”, this film looks and feels like an actual film made in that era. Because there was essentially no money, we had to think in the shoes of real exploitation filmmakers and basically just take a camera around, film, and hope we didn’t get in trouble. We had to get creative finding locations, mostly filming at friend’s properties or abandoned buildings and sewer systems. Other problems like actors’ haircuts or facial hair changing over the years of filming were things that we had to solve creatively as well.
The main idea was to do something familiar but with an Aussie twist, 80’s action movies were what I knew best and it just seemed like a fun idea that I hadn’t seen done before (This film pre-dates the whole 80’s nostalgia wave and was created before things like Kung Fury, we had no idea this type of thing was about to become this next big pop culture explosion).
When foreign audiences think of Australia, the first cities they think of are usually Sydney or Melbourne so I wanted to put Brisbane on the map in my own way. Also, it was the city we were going to film in so it made sense to just show it off as much as possible instead of trying to pretend it was somewhere else.
My main motivation for making it was, of course, to try to make an actual film, but also at that point in time I felt that movies just weren’t fun anymore, especially Australian movies. It was either, horror, gangster or pretentious drama films being made.
What happened to films like Reckless Kelly? Batshit crazy ideas that are so much fun to watch. I just wanted to make something that had no message, no agenda, where there are no lessons learned, just cranked to 11 ridiculous pure entertainment.
Basically, I made the movie I wanted to see because no one else was making it.
– Nicolas Champeaux (Writer/Director)
The original idea spawned from an inside joke on the set of a short film all the way back in 2012. After joking about it for a while, Daniel Cordery (VFX, Editor, DOP) and Nic decided to make a fake Grindhouse-style trailer, to gauge if this could even work at all.
Matt Dickie, a friend from film school, is a movie star waiting to happen, he has so much natural charisma and great comedic timing. After pitching him the idea he said “yeah, righto” and so the gang rounded up a few other friends, a bag of plastic guns, a garbage bag full of random costume bits, and winged it.
There was no script, just a piece of paper with scribbles of ideas and jokes, but Matt just took everything to a whole new level and the shoots ran so long because everyone was laughing so much. Even Producer, Greg Kelly went from just playing a random thug extra in the trailer to becoming one of the main villains in the film after an amazing new character was born when he put on an old black mullet wig and sunglasses repeating the phrase “bloody pigs”.
After screening the fake trailer at the local Brisbane Backyard Film Festival, the audience reaction was so good that Nic got to work on a proper script. A few months later, the four sat down and had the very first table read of the script. After seeing how much it made them laugh just from reading it together, they felt confident this crazy idea could work.
The script was written with 99% of the cast in mind already, there were 2, maybe 3 roles that people actually came in to audition for, the rest of the cast were all friends and family.
The trailer was used to fuel an online crowdfunding campaign which eventually raised around $5,000, the rest would come out of the Director’s pocket over the coming years, totalling to roughly $10,000 – $12,000. Basically there less than a micro-budget, considering production stretched out over 4 years.
The crudeness and charm of the trailer resonated with people, and it helped to convince people to join the crew. The crew members with more feature film experience who joined the team helped make the process much more legitimate and organised.
The only upside to having no funding, was that there wasn’t any sort of deadlines to be met, so there was nothing restricting the creativity and quality.
After a few months of pre-production, location scouting, prop sourcing (it’s hard to find 80s props and technology, especially with no budget), principal photography finally began at the start of 2015, spanning over scattered weekends over a few months.
Around September 2015, a rough cut was edited with temp music which totalled out at just under 50 minutes in length. Originally the goal was to have the runtime around the 30-minute mark, but after watching it multiple times and showing it to people for feedback, everyone agreed it could actually stretch out into a proper full-length feature film.
Back to the drawing board, Nic and Dan dissected the entire story structure, figured out what parts could be fleshed out better, and worked those new scenes into the current edit like puzzle pieces. Audiences are still amazed the film was made that way, the story flow seems like it was always meant to be like that.
So, now there were new scenes, that meant new money was needed. The Producers organised a fundraiser event, hired out a small local theatre and screened short films, exclusive jangles behind the scenes, sold jangles merchandise and premiered the new official trailer.
After that, there was basically enough money, give or take, to film what was needed to finish the film, the rest would still just come out of the Directors pocket bit by bit as time went by.
A few months into 2016 everything was ready, the scripts were finished, all the actors were told they needed to come back for more, and it was basically like shooting the movie all over again. But Boy was it worth it, so many actors who made an impression originally got more screen time to shine, everyone had much more confidence in their filmmaking abilities, and it showed. After that, Dan and Nic figured, “yeah no problem, in a few months it’ll be done finally”. Wrong.
Now comes the part where you have to re-record peoples dialogue (ADR) to match their exact mouth movements and vocal emotion. One of the Executive Producers, who also made music for the film, Vince Sheather, was also the vocal recordist, and his bedroom was our recording studio.
This was done during summer, where even the air conditioning has to be turned off because of the sensitive microphone, things got sweaty. This process took around 6 months to complete because of peoples day jobs. As well as dialogue recording, sound effects had to made from scratch (Foley), and because this is an action blockbuster with multiple gunfights and car chases, the foley artists had to get very creative making things sound like other things. Basically, taping a bunch of cats together to look like a horse.
While all this was going on, Nic also had the task of getting a soundtrack put together. This meant having to talk to complete strangers across the internet and ask them “hey, do you want to lend your music free?”, or, “hey, can you make original music for free?”.
Surprisingly everyone was really friendly and wanted to be a part of the project. It took a good 6 – 8 months in total to get the entire score and soundtrack completed, but it was well worth it. The soundtrack is the cherry on top of this Ozploitation cake, it’s one of the main thing’s people praise the film for, it even won the award for Best Score at its first film festival screening in America.
Not only did Daniel film, storyboard and edit the film, he also did every single visual effect by himself. Going into as much detail as putting barrel holes on the end of the plastic toy guns and adding muzzle flashes and blood splats to all the shootout sequences. There’s also numerous explosions, car crashes, face melting, heads exploding, limbs being shot off, you name it. So while Nic was overseeing all the sound and music development, Dan was locked in a shed cranking out visual effects at the same time.
After multiple rough cuts and “final edits” visually, there was also the task of mixing all the ADR, foley, and music together along with all the other sound effects, which saw Nic, Dan and Sound Designer, Alex O’Donovan, sitting in another small sweaty room for many nights over a period of months getting everything just right. And that’s another thing the film gets praise for, the sound design, this film needed the quality that Alex brought to the table.
September 2017, the moment that almost seemed like it would never come, when the guys sat and watched the film with the final sound mix and finally got to say the words “it’s done”. The only way to describe that feeling is like being constipated for 4 years and finally taking a massive mental dump.
After all those years of tireless work, people could finally see the movie they had probably forgotten about after all this time. The gang rented out a lavish movie theatre on Brisbane’s North Side and screen their movie length dick and fart joke to a completely packed cinema, and the reaction was overwhelmingly great.
The real test would be to see a fresh audience’s reaction, one that didn’t have any friends or family members in it and people who have most likely never even heard of the film before. And in August of 2018, the film had its North American Premiere at the GenreBlast Film Festival in Virginia to exactly that audience.
Nic and Dan got on a plane and headed to the USA for the event. Having no idea what to expect, or if the humour would translate, but the audience laughed from start to finish, and after the credits rolled the Festival Director exclaimed that it was the best reaction he’d seen from the entire festival.
That screening gained many new fans and filmmaking friends and went on to win Audience Choice AND the Jury Award at the awards ceremony. In a space where filmmakers were there promoting their own films, they still voted for Jangles to win.
Even though it was tough at times to see light at the end of the tunnel everyone kept going, no-one had ever done a feature film before, everyone was learning as they went along. Planning everything out proved difficult at times, but as soon as it was time to shoot and everyone was on set, filming, it was one of the most fun experiences ever.
Everyone who worked on the film joined up because they loved the idea, knowing that it would be a payless job. It’s because of that love that it was able to be made at all. The love and dedication that everyone put into this film is visibly noticeable when you watch the film, everyone was having fun making it and that’s infectious amongst the audience, it’s a massive crowd pleaser.
The main reason this film works as well as it does is because of the collaboration, the original idea is so far from what this film ended up becoming, and that’s a good thing. Everyone, from lighting crew to actors and producers threw around ideas in pre-production or on set during filming.
So many of the crew wore multiple hats, everyone was swapping jobs and helping out in different departments, it was a real family environment, and basically, everyone in the crew ended up acting in the movie.
The shoot days were again, long, mostly due to a lot of the improvisation by Matt and the other actors on set, but it all blended together amazingly well in the final product. A lot of Jangles’ cast and crew have gone on to do bigger projects, make sure to keep an eye out for some familiar faces in the future.
As of now Jangles is still doing the festival rounds overseas and getting positive feedback. The plans are to hopefully have Blu-Ray’s organised by the start of 2019. Stay connected with Jangles on all social media platforms to keep informed with all future updates and news.
– Team Jangles
Fun Fact: All of the costumes Jangles wears in the film are Matt Dickie's real life clothes.
Fun Fact: the Director and Producer almost got robbed by homeless meth dealers while scouting abandoned locations.
Fun Fact: The original Jangles has background cameos throughout the film.
Fun Fact: This film pre-dates kung fury.
Fun Fact: Over the 4 years of production the film cost roughly $10,000 - $15,000 to complete.
Fun Fact: A lot of the most classic lines in the film were improvised by Matt.
Fun Fact: One of the thugs in the opening shoot out was a random guy who pulled up on the side of the road, jumped out of his 2 door hyundai elantra, and said "yo can i be in your movie?", and history was made.
Fun Fact: If you look really close, you can see Jangles full real name written on a dossier about him.
Fun Fact: Dickens real life name is Dickens. We weren't lazy, acting's hard.
Fun Fact: The Indiana Jones face melt homage was done in half practical and half visual effects. We layered red Plasticine over a real skull and melted it off with heat guns, and added digital flames in post.