Ian Pugh

Noosa is home to people from all walks of life! Some travel from the other side of the world to discover their own place in the sun where they’re enriched and inspired. John Caruso meets an ex- Zimbabwean writer with a dream of making it big in film.

by @JohnCaruso on Thursday, 15 Sep, 2016

Ian Pugh often walks the Tanglewood Track in the Noosa National Park alone. It’s during these walks when this children’s book author and screenwriter fills his creative bucket!

“My wife, Lara, and I, together with our son Sam, came to Australia five years ago because Lara’s parents were living in Brisbane. We’d holidayed in Noosa and loved it so we decided to settle here, buying a house in Cooroy,” explains Ian.

There’s five children’s books and copywriting featured on his résumé however film has always been Ian’s passion and now there’s a number of exciting projects gaining momentum.

“Sydney-based Tropfest is the largest short film festival in the world and making a seven-minute short film motivated me to write and direct my own project a few years ago. So I storyboarded a hundred sketches and joined forces with local filmmaker, Anthony Park.

“We shot some of it in restaurants and shops on Hastings Street and the rest of it in the national park around Hell’s Gate with a great local actress called Mary Eggleston,” Ian explains. “Everyone was so helpful, including the staff at the national park.”

Angel was the end result and although it didn’t make Tropfest’s final sixteen out of 750 submissions in 2014, his seven-minute labour of love will be part of the inaugural Noosa International Film Festival (NIFF) in November.

“Even though I wrote and directed Angel I don’t see myself as a director, I’m more of a writer. I like thinking up stories and writing screenplays and dialogue,” Ian says.

Triggerfish Animation is one of South Africa’s top animation companies, having producedKhumba andAdventures in Zambezia.

“They were recently looking for their next big movie idea so they put out a call for ideas and they received 1,400 entries and I managed to make the short list of 20,” says Ian.

“That meant flying to Cape Town and joining the Triggerfish story lab where we had a Hollywood screenwriting guru come and coach us for a week and then we had to re-pitch our ideas to a panel, including a representative from Disney.”

Ian’s re-worked idea didn’t make the final four, who ended up travelling to Hollywood, but his story is still being developed as part of the Triggerfish talent pool.

“I have Skype sessions with the people from Triggerfish Animation so I still have their ear which is great. Their feedback is invaluable and my story is improving all the time. I’m hoping that in another six months they might say ok, we’re serious about turning your story into a movie.”

The groundwork for another feature film is well underway with two producers (one South African and one Australian) working on a deal and funding applications being prepared, said Ian.

“The screenplay for The Galloper is based on a famous story from Zimbabwe set in the 1890s about a battle on the banks of the Shangani River between the early white settlers and the Matabele.

“One of the members of the Shangani Patrol was a 19-year-old Australian, Will Gooding, who found himself in the middle of the whole conflict and through him we could visualise the story from a neutral viewpoint,” says Ian.

“Networking is crucial in the movie business and Screen Queensland is always running functions in Brisbane which I attend regularly,” he said.

“I love the fact that I can live in a place like Noosa and still build connections in the film industry.”

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