The road to Oddball - from thought to film

Actor Shane Jacobson and Allan 'Swampy' Marsh with two Maremma dogs near Middle Island.
Actor Shane Jacobson and Allan 'Swampy' Marsh with two Maremma dogs near Middle Island.

SO just how did the life of south-west chicken farmer Alan "Swampy" Marsh end up as fodder for a feature film?

Much of the credit lies with Steve Kearney, an actor-turned-producer who found fame in the '80s as one half of the Aussie comedy duo Los Trios Ringbarkus.

Kearney explained that he had relations living in the south-west and during a visit to the region in 2007 took his children to the Fun4Kids Festival.

It was there he met one of The Connies, a group of people who dress as tram conductors at events and hand out cards with information about environmental and ecological matters.

"One of (the cards) they gave me was about the Maremma program and straight away I thought, 'jeez, that's a movie'," he said, impressed by the story of Swampy and his penguin-protecting dogs.

"I called my sister and she said 'yeah, we know Swampy'.

"So I tracked him down and went to his house and saw his farm and over the next four years I dragged different writers down and showed them the farm and showed them Swampy."

From there, interest grew around the project, now dubbed Oddball.

Actor Shane Jacobson came on board, as did his co-producers, Film Victoria threw in some funding and Village Roadshow loved the family film's premise, saying it "ticked all the boxes", according to Kearney, who is co-producing the film with Richard Keddie and Sheila Hanahan Taylor.

He said it was good to see cameras finally rolling on Oddball, seven years on from that fateful moment at Fun4Kids.

"We thought we were going to (start filming) at the end of 2012, then again at the end of 2013, but it didn't happen," Kearney said. "It's been a bit of a journey for me."