Saturday, March 19, 2016

Bowling and the B.C. Butcher

Parker Love Bowling
B.C. Butcher poster girl, Parker Love Bowling
Kansas Bowling might sound like a character from Zombieland but her moniker is not the only unique thing about her. For example, Kansas co-wrote her first movie at the age of 15, directed it at 17 and had it released through Lloyd Kaufman's Troma Entertainment at 19. B.C. Butcher is a campy, pre-historic, slasher film that features appearances by Kato Kaelin, Rodney Bigenheimer, The Ugly Kids and narrated by Kadeem Hardison. The budget for her movie was around $10,000 which she partially raised through Indiegogo and the rest from waiting tables. She also shot it on 16 mm film, refusing to compromise with much less expensive digital video that might not have the aesthetics for which she strives.

Thomas Becker of Beautiful Bodies described it as "if Russ Meyer directed The Monkees."

While the cavewomen in this movie are more modest than any Meyer movie character, that quote should tip you off as to the tone of the film. You should not go into this expecting a serious slasher film that is heavy on scares and gore. It is however, heavy on camp and if you keep that in mind, you might enjoy this film. Who cares if you can easily detect that the Butcher (Dwayne "not the Rock" Johnson) is wearing a mask? That's something that can be overlooked when you understand what the director is going for, especially one who was influenced by the AIP Beach movies and The Monkees.

The acting is all appropriately over the top and performed with enthusiasm by the entire cast. The most humourous moments are the scenes involving Kato Kaelin's character, Rex and when The Ugly Kids perform as a primitive band with instruments made of watermelons. It's all fun.

There are lots of sight gags inserted for good measure and dialogue like "you filthy fossil licker" may become the newest way to insult someone. I'm certainly going to try to incorporate it into my list of put-downs.

Bowling took full advantage of her father's location in Topanga Canyon and the result is some beautifully shot scenery. It's also edited very well. I have to keep reminding myself that this was directed by someone who was only 17 years old at the time. Think about what you were doing at that age. She's way ahead of the curve. It will be great to see her career evolve.

Just recently, B.C. Butcher had its Hollywood premiere (March 3, 2016) at the Egyptian Theater on Hollywood Blvd.

After contacting her via email, Kansas was nice enough to answer several questions I posed to her. I hope you enjoy our Q & A.

Interview with Kansas Bowling 

Q. Was Indiegogo a worthwhile experience and would you use it again for future projects?

A. Indiegogo was really useful for getting the story out about my film. A lot of people wrote about the project and I had a lot of great people reach out to me during that period, but it was very difficult to raise the money. (I did not reach my goal.) I would recommend it to someone who has a lot of people behind their project who can invest a lot of time into fundraising, but personally I would not use it again.

Q. Since your co-writer Kenzie Givens was not involved during the filming, when did she first see the finished movie and what was her reaction?

A. Kenzie moved away for college when we were filming but was back in town when we were editing, so she got to sit in on some of it. It was a lot different than she expected, I'm sure! But Kenzie is very proud and supportive of the film!

Q. Were you at all inspired by Emily Hagins, who directed a movie called Pathogen at the age of 12 in 2006 and was the subject of a documentary called Zombie Girl?

A. I actually hadn't heard of her until recently, but good for her!


Q. After the Indiegogo campaign, why were so many characters re-casted with different actresses?

A. There were a lot of scheduling conflicts with the original actresses. We re-casted everybody except for Leilani Fideler, who plays Neandra. But I'm really glad we did because the final cast is so perfect!

The B.C. Butcher (PROMO) from Kansas Bowling on Vimeo.
"The B.C. Butcher" starring Leilani Fideler, Alexis Codding, Annie Milligan, Colette Stone, Lauren Crowell, and featuring narration by Kadeem Hardison. Directed by Kansas Bowling. Written by Kansas Bowling and Kenzie Givens. Soundtrack by the Ugly Kids. Edited by John Irwin. Cinematography by Tomoaki Iwakura.

This short was made to raise funds for the feature length film "B.C. Butcher". The film is now coming out with Troma Entertainment 2016 starring Kato Kaelin, Leilani Fideler, Natasha Halevi, Devyn Leah, Molly Elizabeth Ring, Miranda Robin, Parker Love Bowling, Kadeem Hardison, and Rodney Bingenheimer.

Q. You also mentioned in the campaign that you wanted to use tortoise shells as prehistoric musical instruments but ended up using watermelons instead. Was this for budgetary reasons and/or convenience?

A. It was more a time issue. I pretty much did everything for the film - writing, directing, producing, costumes, props - and I just couldn't get the instruments together in time, so my dad actually ended up making the watermelon instruments the night before! It was really sweet.

Q. What were some of the challenges or problems while filming? Would you do anything different?

A. We didn't have too many technical issues on set since I planned and scheduled things pretty efficiently. I can't think of anything I'd do different since it all worked out.

Q. During Dina's death scene what did you use for guts?

A. We shot that scene twice (once for the Indiegogo promo and once for the actual film). The first time we used actual pig guts I got from a Korean butcher. For the actual film, we ended up using chorizo sausages.

Q. How well could Bamba see while wearing those special lenses to make her appear blind and where do you get those?

A. They were mesh contacts so she could see but things were pretty foggy. I got them in an alley in the fashion district downtown... It wasn't as sketchy as that sounds.

Q. Did I hear correctly when Anaconda was talking in her sleep and mentions "Rolling Stones" and "Jagger"?

A. Yes... We had a joke on set that the cavewomen's favorite bands were the Rolling Stones (ie. Stone Ages) and T. Rex.

Q. You used some fake snakes and one real one in a scene with Natasha Halevi. Why not one or the other and was Natasha comfortable with a live snake slithering across her face?

A. She was comfortable with the snake but we just didn't want it to bite her with her flailing around like that, so we cut between the fake and the real and it looks so awful it's hilarious. But it's okay, because the tarantulas that eat that guy's face in The Beyond also look super fake and that movie is brilliant.

Q. How long did you shoot each day?

A. Since it was all outdoors, we could only shoot in the daytime. Our call time was 8 am every day and we usually ended around 7-8.

Q. Who came up with "filthy fossil licker" as an insult?

A. That was actually one of Kenzie's lines! She also wrote the really funny narration.

Q. I was happy to hear a classic Wilhelm scream when Rex was killed. How long had you been planning to use it in a movie?

A. Another Kenzie Givens addition... Something she suggested when she came to help edit one day.


Q. You've said Caveman ( I absolutely love that movie) and One Million Years B.C. were inspirations for this movie. I was curious if you have seen Eegah with Arch Hall Jr. and if maybe that was also an influence?

A. Yes, that's a great film as well. I love Arch Hall Jr., especially The Sadist.


Q. On a low budget movie, you have to make do with very little. However, some people might say you could have done without the sunglasses, plastic bottled water and a modernly-dressed Rodney Bingenheimer in a film set in prehistoric times. Can you explain the tone that you were aiming for?

A. Some people think we could have done without it, but other people love the film precisely for those reasons. We were aiming to make a campy film, and people should not expect historical accuracy if the first line of the film is "In the year 1,000,000 B.C." - that in itself is completely preposterous and impossible. The sunglasses were a joke because the brand was Fossil and Rodney was wearing a T. Rex shirt - get it? Think of it like in A Hard Days Night when they perform "And I Love Her" and they zoom to reveal they're on a set; that confused people 50 years ago, but that was 50 years ago. Nowadays, when people are watching movies, I think they should understand they're watching a movie.

Q. Were you surprised you were able to get a #1 hit song (Alley Oop by The Hollywood Argyles) for your film and how long did it take to negotiate that?

A. It was a lot of negotiating but I really needed that song. It was so perfect for the film. It did cost me something big, though.

Q. At one point in your interview with Lloyd Kaufman, you show your bookshelves filled with books. Can you tell us what some of your favourite titles you have in your collection? Are there any you can recommend to aspiring filmmakers? 

A. Of course, I love Stephen King and recommend any of his books to anybody. Some other favorites are White Oleander and The Electric Koolaid Acid Test

(editor's note: I recommend King's Danse Macabre, one of his few, if not his only non-fiction book. It's great for finding out what films influenced him)

Q. Speaking of "Uncle" Lloyd, I admire your initiative when it came to contacting him about your movie and congratulate you on getting a distribution deal with him. Since you now have a connection and he's been known to make cameo appearances (like in Big Ass Spider!), can we expect to see him do one in your next film?

A. Lloyd will be a part of all of my future films! I love Lloyd! 

Q. Was Kato Kaelin's character written as ambiguous or was that his idea to play it that way? 

A. Kato's dialogue was pretty basic, but he added a lot of humor to it. Most of his lines in the film were just him being funny. The entire scene with him and Neandra (played by Leilani Fideler) is completely improvised. 

Q. You've said that Doris Wishman is one of your influences. Of her films, I've only seen Diary of a Nudist and Nude on the Moon, so what is it that you admire about her? 

A. I love how her ideas were nothing more than an atmosphere - you don't need much else when you have cheesy gore, naked girls, and 60's ambiance. The plots were minimal yet the films are so brilliant. Her movies are perfect.

Q. Were the movies you made with your sister Parker Love Bowling shot on film and did they have plots or were they just random scenes? 

A. When we were growing up, I didn't have a film camera yet, because my parents aren't much into film, so it took me a little later to catch on on my own. We shot things on little digital camera and our friend's computers. And most of them had plots. Some were actually pretty funny. We made one film where we pretended to be real estate agents; another film we were hookers in Texas (we were probably 10 and 7); in another one we were time travelers and we went on the Titanic.

editor's note: Parker plays Po in B.C. Butcher and is also one of the models in the opening credits.
Q. I'm astounded by not only the number of films you've watched but also how similar our tastes are. Do you use Letterboxd or IMDb to log the movies you've watched? 

A. No, but for one year I kept a notebook where I wrote down every movie I'd watched. It was when I was in high school. I think the final tally was somewhere around 409 that year.

Q. Do you think someone can learn just as much about film directing by watching hundreds of movies than someone who has attended film school?

A. It is really helpful to watch a lot of movies and figure out what styles and genres interest you, but you can't learn everything from just that. You also have to write and create and just go out and film. But doing just that is film school in itself.

Q. Despite watching some movies earlier than the recommended age, you seem to have turned out all right. What are some of the movies you watched when you were 13 years old, for example? 

A. A lot of Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch and Troma!

Q. Although your dad had a small role as a caveman, he played a big part in helping in other ways. If I'm not mistaken, he provided the location. What else did he contribute? 

A. He also held the boom mike every day! My dad was really helpful during B.C. Butcher. He was there helping out every day on set. He also made the watermelon instruments!

Q. What does your mom think of B.C. Butcher and your film director career?

A. She actually just saw it for the first time and thought it was hilarious! She's a proud mama.

Q. Why are you fascinated with the 60's and do you sometimes feel like a square peg among people of the same age as you? 

A. No, because I usually surround myself with people who share the same interests with me. Also, I'm not one of those people who pretend they can't relate to an entire generation because what I watch and listen to. Myself and the kids the same age as me are growing up through the same times, experiencing world events at the same point in our lives - none of that has to do with whether or not we listen to The Beatles.

Q. As a kid, I watched all the AIP Beach movies with Frankie and Annette and recently I've been enjoying getting reacquainted with them on THIS TV. My favourite is actually Back to the Beach which is a parody (although not an AIP production). Since you are a fan, do you have a favourite? 

A. Rodney Bingenheimer is in Back to the Beach! My favorite of the Frankie and Annette ones is Beach Party, but another great beach movie parody is Lord Love A Duck with Roddy McDowall and Tuesday Weld - it's one of my favorite movies with two of my favorite actors!

Q. You've stated that you're a fan of The Monkees. I was among the second generation wave of  Monkeemania in 1986 so I guess that would make you third generation. Are you looking forward to the release of their new album "Good Times" later this year? 

A. To be honest, not really. I'm a lot happier now that I know Nez [Mike Nesmith] is playing on it, but I'd rather not hear them singing Oasis and Weezer songs. And it's weird without Davy. But I still love them! So much!

Q. Annette Funicello appears in The Monkees' movie "Head" so that should be right up your alley. It's enjoyably bizarre with a great soundtrack. I don't know if you've seen it but if you have, what are your thoughts about it?

A. Head is a perfect film.

Q. In addition to B.C. Butcher, you've directed a few music videos including one for the band Kill My Coquette. If The Monkees asked you to direct their new music video, would you do it? Would you rather make a movie with them like Head instead? 

A. A movie! Because there would be music videos within it. One can dream.

Q. Have you ever watched a movie at a drive-in theater? 

A. No... I wish.

Q. Would you like to make your own beach movie one day?

 A. Definitely!

Q. Do VHS tapes make good necklaces? 

A. Haha, oh my god. I used to think so back when I made questionable fashion choices.

editor's note: click here to see what Kansas means

Q. What are you working on next? 

A. Well, speaking of The Monkees, it's a script based on a Monkees song!

Q. Is there anything else you want readers to know that I haven't asked you?

My VHS copy of Elephant Parts starring Mike Nesmith
A. Mike Nesmith is so much more than the Monkees. The Monkees are fantastic but it is only a brief sliver in the great career of Nez. The First National Band albums are so classic and same goes for the Second National Band album and all other solo albums. "Talking to the Wall", "Tomorrow and Me", and "Some of Shelly's Blues" are some of the most beautiful songs in the world. And then, he made this AMAZING record Infinite Rider On the Big Dogma, where every song is a novelty track! And most are played out in his hilariously BRILLIANT film Elephant Parts. If you have not seen Elephant Parts, I HIGHLY recommend it. It is brilliant sketch comedy mixed with hilarious music videos for his songs. The segment for Cruisin' is one of the greatest things ever put on celluloid. Ending with his song about television - "Tonite". SO GOOD. And he did another film just like it later on called Dr. Duck's Super-Secret All-Purpose Sauce which is just as good with a brilliant segment called Sorority Girls From Hell. BUT, I'm not done! If it were not for this brilliant man, we would not have MTV. Yes, Nez invented MTV! AND Nez produced so many great cult films in the 80's - most notably Repo Man, Timerider, and Tapeheads! And he discovered Winona Ryder! And I can tell you, everything I just named is a million times cooler than "Pool It" (the album the rest of the Monkees were making at the time). So it really bothers me when people trash Mike for not reuniting with them at that time. He had bigger and better things to do. He's one of the greatest songwriters and innovators in rock 'n' roll. 

editor's note:  I completely agree with all of the above. I've lost count of how many times I've watched Timerider and I still have Elephant Parts on VHS, although I have no plans to make it into a necklace. I'm ashamed to admit that I have never seen Tapeheads but I will make it a priority to watch it. Papa Nez is highly underrated as a songwriter and innovator of country rock as well as music videos.

Kansas Bowling's Favourite Movies, Music and Books

Here's a video that Kansas Bowling directed for the group CTZSHP.

The B.C. Butcher premiere was attended by the likes of Priscilla Presley, Lloyd Kaufman, Ron Jeremy and Mark Torgl, "Melvin The Mop Boy" from Troma's The Toxic Avenger.

You can watch B.C. Butcher on TromaNow

Thanks to Kansas for taking the time to answer my questions.

To keep up to date with her current and future projects, follow her through her various social media profiles.

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