Movies & TV / Columns

Emmett Adcock On His Directorial Debut Outnumbered, Potential Sequel

April 28, 2021 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The 411 Interview: Emmett Adcock


Emmett Adcock is the director and co-writer of the new low budget Australian western Outnumbered, starring Ian Sanderson, Christopher Mauch, Mathew Mauch, and George McVeigh. In this interview, Adcock talks with this writer about making Outnumbered, working with the cast and crew, how difficult it was to make a low budget period western, and more.



Bryan Kristopowitz: How did you get involved as director of Outnumbered?

Emmett Adcock: Chris and I met over 10 years ago. I was early into my career in the film industry and a mutual friend had passed my contact information along. Chris was getting married at the time and looking for someone to shoot some video of his wedding. I wasn’t interested in shooting wedding videos, but we met up for a coffee and spoke about the job. Chris told me all about how he was having a western themed wedding, complete with spurs, holsters and pistols etc. and told me how he wanted the video to reflect that theme. He was obviously passionate about the idea and clearly had a love for the western genre, plus it sounded like it could be interesting for me also, so I agreed. After the wedding we stayed in touch and I discovered that Chris shared my love of cinema, and soon after we began to discuss the idea of making a short film together, which we ended up doing in 2010. The film was only around 15 minutes long, but it ended up being such a great learning experience for everyone involved. It wasn’t long after we completed the short film that we began to discuss the idea of working on something larger, and somehow over the next decade that idea slowly grew into Outnumbered.

BK: Is Outnumbered your first feature film as a director?

EA: Yes. I work as a freelance commercial director in Queensland and have made a number of short film as well as hundreds of TV commercials, music videos, corporate videos and online commercial content, but Outnumbered is indeed my first attempt at a feature film.

BK: Where was Outnumbered made?

EA: Outnumbered was entirely shot in and around the South East Queensland region of Australia, with about 90% of the film being shot locally in the Warwick/Freestone area.

BK: How did you cast Outnumbered?

EA: Casting the film was always going to be a tricky issue because we knew going in that the film was going to be shot in such a time consuming and unconventional manner. Throughout the 9 odd-years of the film’s production, due to my work I was living in Brisbane, which is a bigger city around 2 hours away from rural Warwick/Freestone area where Chris lived, which is where the bulk of the film was shot. So every time we planned to shoot it involved a 2-hour drive to location, then another 2-hour drive home again at the end of the day, which made for some incredibly long days (and nights). We shot the film mainly on weekends spread out over a number of years, so it was always going to be difficult to find actors in Brisbane willing to commit that sort of time/travel to the project. Plus Warwick/Freestone is only a small rural town, not exactly a hotspot of aspiring actors, so finding local trained talent also seemed unlikely. As the script was being written we already had some local characters in mind for our leads, so beyond that, if somebody wanted to be in the film, and was truly willing to commit the time and effort required, then we were happy to have them involved. Thankfully we ended up with a colourful cast of local characters, and though they may not have the acting chops of a Hollywood star, their dedication and willingness to give up their free time was all we could have asked for.

BK: Describe the writing process for the Outnumbered screenplay with Mathew Noske and Christopher Mauch.

EA: I’ve always struggled with the writing process, so I didn’t even consider attempting to write the script myself. Once Chris and I had agreed upon a rough idea of the basic plot, I asked my good friend Matthew Noske if he would be interested in working on the script. I had met Matthew when we were both studying at film school years earlier, and he had always been a far better writer than me. Since then, we became good friends and made a number of short films together over the years, even attending a number of local film festivals with some of our projects. He agreed to work on the first draft of the script. I think the biggest challenge for him was keeping his imagination reigned in, knowing that whatever he wrote on the page, I would need to somehow try and find a way to bring to the screen with our very limited resources. This did initially prove challenging as the first draft contained all sorts of ideas which I knew we wouldn’t practically be able to achieve, such as “a stampede of wild horses charging our heroes at the bottom of a ravine,” or another scene that involved the camera following an eagle mid-flight through the air, as it soared high above the clouds. Matthew’s original draft was amazing, and once that was completed the three of us worked together to discuss ideas and just generally turn the script into a more “shootable” state.

BK: How did you decide on the look of Outnumbered, from its fabulous cinematography to the costumes?

EA: The look of Outnumbered was influenced by a few factors. All the costume work was handled entirely by Julie Mauch, who did an incredible job. I believe she made some pieces herself, while sourcing the others from all sorts of different places, I think she even went as far as ordering some items, such as gun belts, holsters, etc.,, to be shipped all the way over from the United States. I really never had to worry about the costumes as Julie did such an amazing job. She would simply ask me which scenes we would be shooting on the upcoming weekend, and I would let her know. Then once we arrived, she always had the costumes prepared and ready to go for the day’s shoot. She was especially resourceful when we would throw some last minute changes at her, always managing to rustle up a new cowboy hat or pair of boots from somewhere when they were needed.

As for the cinematography, being a predominantly one-man crew, that was my responsibility. Having grown up in the Warwick/Freestone area, I knew there would be no shortage of amazing scenery to shoot, so that was never a concern I had. The biggest challenge for me regarding the cinematography was just managing the sheer workload while on set. Usually, lighting a scene isn’t too difficult when it’s all you have to think about. You can normally just look at the monitor and simply ask for a particular light to be moved this way or that, but having to set up the camera, sound, and lighting yourself can be quite tricky, especially when working on a period film which needed to look like it was lit with nothing but flaming torches and lanterns. On top of that we had some challenging setups, such as exterior night scenes involving multiple actors, lit with multiple lights, involving weapons, action and live fire effects, all being powered by a small noisy diesel generator situated a hundred feet away, which then creates problems for sound, etc. Luckily, for the more challenging scenes, the off-camera actors were often more than happy to help me out with gear if needed, which I greatly appreciated.


BK: How historically accurate is Outnumbered in terms of 1880’s Australia?

EA: I’m certainly no historian, so I couldn’t say with any certainty how accurate the film is in relation to real 1880’s Australia, but we did make all attempts to keep the film as “genuinely Australian” as we possibly could. However, if we had been forced to make a choice, my primary concern would be for audience entertainment over historical accuracy. The way I see it, there’s no use making a film which is 100% historically accurate if nobody wants to watch it.

BK: How long did it take to make Outnumbered, from finishing the screenplay to completing post-production?

EA: Chris and I have discussed this ourselves and we can’t come up with exact dates, but looking at the date on the slate of the first day of shooting, it was roughly eight years from when we began shooting to when I completed post- production. Factoring in the initial ideas and the writing process it would probably bring that number closer to ten years.

BK: What was the hardest part of making Outnumbered for you as a director? What was the easiest part?

EA: The hardest part for me, personally, was managing the workload on set each day, and then accepting the compromises that come with making a no-budget feature length film. In my normal day-to-day film work, my primary responsibility is directing and cinematography. Sound recording is something I may do when a job calls for it, along with things like editing and post production, but I’m certainly no expert in all those areas. In fact, making this film has really given me a renewed appreciation of all the work that goes into each and every role on a film crew, and I was reminded again why good filmmaking really is such a collaborative medium. That said, attempting to make a period western feature film with me, a first-time feature director working as a one-man crew, using first time actors and limited production resources, meant that not every scene we shot was going to turn out exactly as we would have hoped. Accepting these limitations and reaching a compromise was something I found necessary to get a film like this completed. If we had kept going back till every aspect of the film was perfect, it would have never seen the light of day, so accepting some of those flaws was tough at first, but I believe we’ve still completed something that I think we can all be proud to put our name on. The easiest part of the film was simply working with everyone involved. With Outnumbered being a small production made up of mostly friends and family, this meant that there was no ego on set, no fights or drama or tension to deal with, just a bunch of good people getting together on the weekend trying to have a little fun while making the best film we could.


BK: The closing credits theme for Outnumbered is fantastic. Describe your working relationship with composer David Bruggeman.

EA: I was familiar with David’s work before we started collaborating on Outnumbered, as he grew up in Warwick, the same as I did. Not a lot of people who grow up in Warwick have aspirations of working in the film and TV industry, so you usually know those who do. Once we started production, Chris got in contact with David to discuss if he would be interested in working on the music for the film. As I had my hands full with a number of jobs on the film already, I was more than happy to allow full creative control to David to work on the score for the film. He was already working in Sydney creating music for film and television down there, so I had total confidence he was more than up to the task. To be honest, I already thought David would do a great job with the music, but what he ended up giving us was even more amazing than I had expected. I firmly believe David’s score lifts the film to a whole new level, and is one of the most impressive aspects of the entire film. My biggest worry is that by the time we get around to making another film, David will have been discovered by Hollywood and won’t be available to work with us anymore.

BK: What sort of release did Outnumbered get in Australia?

EA: Outnumbered premiered at the Warwick Twin cinema in March 2021, and enjoyed busy crowds for its 3-week run there, which is fitting as the film was shot in and around the local area. It’s currently booked to screen in another 8 cinemas nationwide, with plans to increase that further as time goes on.

BK: Any moviemaking heroes?

EA: As far as moviemaking heroes go, I believe it’s a lot like music, no matter how old you get you seem to always love the ones who you grew up watching/listening too. So, for me, that would be some of Hollywood’s most well-known storytellers including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino and James Cameron. On a more technical level, I really appreciate the work of directors who have carved out a strong distinct visual style, like Tony Scott, Zack Snyder, Michael Bay and David Fincher.

BK: Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

EA: We’ve got a few things in the works, but nothing we can talk about just yet.

BK: What do you hope audiences get out of Outnumbered?

EA: We aren’t professional actors or filmmakers, and we aren’t trying to compete with Hollywood’s next two hundred-million-dollar blockbuster, so if the people who come to see Outnumbered can walk out of the cinema with a smile on their face and say they had a good time watching the film, then that’s all we could ask for!

BK: Any interest in an Outnumbered 2?

EA: It’s being discussed. Chris is keen and I suspect he’s working on a pitch he’s going to deliver to me sometime soon (hahaha!). But I’ve learned a lot from the mistakes I made on Outnumbered, so I don’t want to rush in and repeat those same mistakes again. Outnumbered was a step up from our original short film, which is great news, so I don’t want to commit to anything unless I’m sure we can step it up another level again, because if you’re not improving then what’s the point? If we can get a story nailed down that we both like, then there may be hope yet. I don’t think anyone wants to spend another 10 years on the next one, so we may need to tighten up the schedule a little if we hope to get anyone else involved.

BK: When will Outnumbered be released to the world?

EA: Outnumbered is currently in talks to receive a US release, but we will have to wait and see how that pans out.

BK: Is the Gatling gun as cool in real life as it seems in the movie?

EA: Full credit for the Gatling Gun has to go to Ian Sanderson, who plays the villain ‘Croaker’ in the movie. He built the gun from scratch in his backyard which, as a non-handyman myself, I thought was just amazing. When we first came up with the idea for that scene, I had no idea where on earth we were going to get a Gatling gun from, but Ian spoke up and was confident he could build one. I wasn’t convinced at first, but he got started on the design and construction, and once he was ready, he invited us over for the unveiling. We put it together and shot some test footage that same day in his backyard (if I remember right I think he was shooting up his own car in the test footage). Once we got the test footage into the edit suite and put it together with some sound and VFX, I knew it would do the job. As for fun, I think his face in the film as he fires the gun tells you how much fun he was having. If you listen carefully, you can even hear him let out a little “YAHOO!” as he’s firing it!



A very special thanks to Emmett Adcock for agreeing to participate in this interview and to david j. moore for setting it up.

Check out the Outnumbered Facebook page here!

Check out the Outnumbered trailer here!

Check out my review of Outnumbered here!

Emmett Adcock image courtesy of Emmett Adcock. All other images courtesy of Gunsmauch Pictures.