The title and thumbnail for a film can often provide a good indication of whether a short is something to get excited about. In the case of Matt Inns’ The Ballad of Maddog Quinn, both had me eager to dive in. Less than 60-seconds into its 15-minute run-time, after witnessing its helmeted protagonist almost blow themselves up with a stick of dynamite and a gun, I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed.
A Sci-fi Western featuring a wanted gunslinger, an armoured airship and a robot bartender, Inns’ action-packed short follows its titular anti-hero as they try to outrun the posse of lawmen hot on their heels. But what makes Maddog Quinn such an infamous outlaw? Well, you’ll have to watch the short to find out.
“I wanted to make a film that was fun, exciting and a good time to watch”
With his love of film beginning with his Dad’s “home taped VHS collection” – which included the likes of Mad Max, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and more – Inns took this nostalgic inspiration and combined it with his fascination for pioneering action stars (Buster Keaton, Jackie Chan) and early science-fiction (Jules Verne, H.G. Wells) to form the narrative of The Ballad of Maddog Quinn. Featuring horseback chases, gunfights and more, the director hoped his short would make a “fun” and “exciting” watch.
Without wanting to give too much of the storyline away, we discover Quinn’s reason for stealing a mysterious green liquid after they finally escape the pursuit of the relentless pack chasing them. As is often the case with these Robin Hood characters there’s an altruistic motivation behind their crimes, one that holds extra significance given Inns’ other motivation for making the film:
“On a more personal level, I wrote it when my dad had become unwell, and a big part of dealing with that was always trying to find light and humour during a pretty shitty time. He passed away before the film was completed, but those ideas of perseverance and trying to look on the bright side are at the heart of it.”
And heart is certainly the word that comes to mind when unravelling The Ballad of Maddog Quinn. However, that emotional core is delivered through some kinetic, old-school filmmaking, an approach that (personally) had me pining for ’80s action-movies. Shot on location in Tekapo, in the Canterbury region of New Zealand, Inns admits he “rooted a lot of the style in Sergio Leone’s old school westerns”, bringing as much of his short, as possible, to life through practical FX, the director employed “squibs, blood, practical sets, miniatures” and the incredible backdrops of the setting to paint a vivid and immersive world.
The director admits that it was somewhat of “a rough road” bringing his short to the screen, but we’re happy to say that all the hard work was certainly worth it, as The Ballad of Maddog Quinn is a refreshing and unique short. Having played at Sitges in 2022, we’re proud to host the online premiere of Inns’ film on Short of the Week and feel that its distinct combination of the Sci-fi and Western genres should make it a popular watch online.
With the directors now looking into making his first feature or series, including the possibility of developing The Ballad of Maddog Quinn concept into a feature (or potential series), lets hope this can be a launchpad to make that happen.