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Interview with the Wombat

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

David Black interviews John Cassidy, aka Johnny Wombat, for the Australian Short Film Network Journal

I first became aware of John through his TV show “Outta the Can”. John is one half of the team of “Johnny Wombat and Bruce Goose” who present a program each week on Melbourne’s Ch 31 and Adelaide’s Ch 44, which features short films made by talented Indie Aussie film makers.

I have the pleasure today to be interviewing John and am going to peer down the Wombat’s burrow!

DB – Hi John, thanks for taking the time to chat to me today. Your show provides a well needed service to the Aussie Indie film community. It’s great that you and your co-host, Bruce Hatfield, have given a platform for us to have our films shown on TV. I believe that before starting “Outta the Can,” you had a bit of experience in short films yourself.

On your IMDB, you have “The Newell” (2017), “Pink Teddy” (2018) and “The Promotion” (2010). Tell us a bit about them.

JC – Hello David, firstly thanks for having me and for being a supporter of our show.

Yes I have appeared in a quite a few short films and one indie feature film.

Not all the films I have appeared in are on IMDB. They have all been supporting roles and all non-paid. I have played Cops, Forensic's, Step dad, Union Boss, Annoying Customer, Security Guard, Husband and even a Community TV station manager ironically.

I was still raising a young family and doing acting along with my daughter who had stars in her eyes, we would pick up roles off a forum called “Filmnet” a pre Starnow platform that helped Filmmakers find actors with passion,for zero $$$, lol, and yes you do get what you pay for but every short is experience for all onboard and everyone on set puts in their all.

It's funny that when getting the show off the ground, I called out to the people I had supported and they returned that love and have supported us, People like Tez Frost, Micheal Sandic, Tom Vogel, Ivan Malekin, Darren Maxwell, a decade on from long gone projects which we dug out and gave new life to!!!

It was fun watching chatter via FB of people excited to see those films after so many years and which for some had been 1st time roles.

I have not been in a film for well over a decade and would struggle to hold a line these days.

DB – The first that I heard about you was when you posted in The Australian Short Film Network that you were looking for films for your new TV show, “Outta the Can.” Rather than me telling everyone about your show, let’s hear it in your own words

JC - Our show was born from an obvious hole in the industry that forgets about films after they have done the festival circuit. Short films are like discarded toys, they still have a use, just like the medium of television they both have just been left behind.

We have simply married short film to television giving both another day in the sun with a much broader audience than the usual Festival crowd.

The show runs on perpetual synergy if we don't get submissions we don't have a show. Our filmmakers are what keep the show going and we are stoked that people reach out with such amazing films showing what Australia has to offer, we are very lucky.

We simply Present, we never Judge and we like to encourage all our submitters with our commentary during our segments.

DB – I had you and Bruce as hosts for the first ever Australian Short Film Network networking night. We filmed that and turned it into a special for Ch 44 called “In Your Shorts”. The documentary went out worldwide and was shown on 13 community TV stations across Australia and the USA. In it, either you or Bruce said that this was one of the first times that you had gotten to meet many of the filmmakers that you’ve had on your show. How was that experience?

JC – OMG David what a night!! Aside from the fact no one knew who we were (not even you hahahaa) it was a fantastic time, meeting so many passionate people in one space was fantastic. We chatted to actors for ages networking away and sharing stories it was just great, to be honest seeing as our life is spent dealing with people over the internet it was a lot to take in. After nearly 8 months of Lockdown and not having any public contact I was exhausted after speaking with so many people.

I had no idea what you had planned and when Philip Lemon turned up it was fantastic to speak with and Interview him for your special, as he was the last submitter to our show for 2020 with his brilliant film “Treasure.” Anyone reading this that hasn't seen it pop onto YouTube you won't regret it. And of course meeting yourself was terrific DB, I was expecting you to be a lil more animated but that's what I get for watching and screening so many of your films and only knowing the characters and not the actor.

DB – Since then, you have gone on to become even more involved in the Indie film community. You and Bruce were judges at the Altona Beach Film Festival. My guess is that you would have had to watch even more films, on top of all of those that are submitted to your show. What was it like being a judge?

JC – It was strange as we solely concentrate on presenting and never cast judgement on the films we screen.

But we do watch a lot of films and have been around long enough to sit back and enjoy what is on offer and to give an honest assessment based on the criteria set. It was an honour to be asked by the lovely Annette Stephens the president of the Altona Beach Film Festival. I would encourage all filmmakers to go to the website and see what next year’s theme is, it's a great festival and just a pity lockdown has prevented us from meeting and greeting everyone in person.

DB – You are certainly active within the community … in fact, vital to it. Can you tell me of your future plans?

JC – Kind words DB and appreciated, we do our best, we are not funded or sponsored. We, like our filmmakers, run on passion with a zero dollar budget. We have been picked up by C44 Adelaide this year and have been shuffled around a bit time slot wise, not sure about our audience over there, we do get feed back via FB & IG always positive but ratings wise hard to judge, the important thing is peoples films are being screened in 2 states twice weekly.

We were also nominated for 2 categories at the Antenna Awards for "Best Program of the Year" and the other for "Best Special Interest or Lifestyle Program", so that was nice.

We are also trying to keep the show fresh with not only fantastic content, but are also running guest host episodes giving control to some of the amazing filmmakers that love & support the show so that they can do it their way just to mix it up a little and give the audience more variety.

Our aim now that c31 & c44 have been given extensions to broadcast for 2 more years is to continue to promote and screen as many short films as possible, but that is up to our submitters week to week and episode to episode.I will just say that there are a lot of short films out there that never see the light of day and that is why we are here to get the “Outta the Can” and onto your screen!! It's as simple as an email

DB – Thanks for taking the time to chat to me today John.Where can our readers follow your work?

JC– Thankyou David, it was a pleasure, Mr Goose & I are looking forward to seeing what your latest project is "wink wink."

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