STARBURST: Why did you choose to shoot B.C. Butcher in 16mm?
Kansas Bowling: I've always really, really loved film, and got a Super 8 camera when I was 13 for Christmas. I'm part of the Tarantino generation who were taught that film was gold, and that's what you have to do. He was one of my early idols – I asked him to marry me when I was 14.
Just growing up, watching the newer movies and watching the older movies, and really seeing the difference in how they look. One of my favorite movies is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and just those rich, bright colours, and the close-ups of Sally Hardesty's eyes – that really bright blue – had me wondering, “How do you get that look?”
I contacted the cinematographer for Texas Chain Saw Massacre before I shot my film, asking what he did. He told me they shot on 16, he told me the type of film stock they used, and I just really wanted to get a look like that. The lower-budgets '60s and '70s films always have the best looks and the best colours.
It is a very bright movie, and it's a testament to how well it works, even though pretty much every scene is shot in daylight. Was that a choice?
Yeah - even when they're sleeping! That was just because we had no budget. We could only shoot in the daytime, but it works. I was thinking at first of shooting day-for-night: shooting in the daytime, but lowering the exposure so that it looked like it was night. However, I was like, “It doesn't matter. It won't make the film look darker – it'll just look bad. Everything can be bright.” We didn't need any lighting equipment. We just used reflectors for everything. It was the cheapest way to go.
It's impressive the way the film uses its budgetary restraints to its advantage, to be sure. How, for example, did you come to use the stuffed tiger?
What's funny is that when we shot the movie, we knew it was going to be campy, but we were taking it kind of seriously as we shot it. In editing, though, it turned into a total comedy! We weren't really going to use the stuffed animal tiger at all – we were just going to have it fly past the camera really quick – but we decided to keep it in because it was just too hilarious.
We just added all these sound effects. Like that scene with Anna Conda, where she sees the Butcher, we just had her screaming for a really unnecessarily long amount of time. Things like that.
Was the decision to use the Hollywood Argyles' song, Alley Oop part of the opening to the movie from the beginning, or did that happen after the film got picked up?
That was actually a decision we made while we were making it. It was an idea from Rodney Bingenheimer, who's in the movie – he's a DJ on KROQ – he was like, “You should use 'Alley Oop'!” I went through a lot of trouble to get that song, but I finally got it. I was so proud that I got that.
In terms of the other music, how did you come to know the Ugly Kids and use them?
The Ugly Kids? It was actually a way long time ago. I shot a promo scene first before I did the movie, so I got them for that, even. I hung up a flyer at Amoeba Records – a record store here – saying, “I'm making a feature film, and we need a band to do the soundtrack!” and I think I got three responses. Two of them were like, techno bands, and the third was the Ugly Kids.
That seems really fortuitous because it seems like that style of music fits really well with the aesthetic of the film.
Yeah, it's pretty caveman-ish.
It ties really well into how I took the movie, which is that it's a beach party movie that doesn't take place on the beach.
Those are my most favorite movies! I love Annette Funicello so much.
What also struck us was how many women were involved in the making of B.C. Butcher.
Yeah, that's just how we wrote the script. Those are all my favorite type of movies – the all-women cast, like Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!, Switchblade Sisters – all those movies had these girl gangs, and they're the most fun movies to watch, in my opinion, so I wanted to do something like that. And you know, I'm a girl, so I don't want to watch guys. It's boring. Girls are better.
Plus, it seems like all the women get the best lines.
Yeah, we decided that all the cave men would grunt, primarily, and the women would talk.
The exception to that is, obviously, Kato Kaelin. How much of his dialogue was written, and how much was improvised?
It was all Kato. He said a bunch of things I didn't even know he was going to say, like that part where he says, “Don't look at my butt,” it was so funny. The actress, Molly, was uncomfortable with kissing him, and they would just touch noses, and he'd say, “More of this later.” Stuff like that.
The flashback sequence, we just had some film left, and we were like, “Kato, we're about to roll out. Just say whatever you want.” That was just him, on the spot, being funny.
How'd the film end up being distributed by Troma?
I actually started talking to Lloyd before the movie was even finished. I had always had Troma on my mind, because I love Troma so much, and was like, “What if Troma releases it?”
So, when I finished shooting it, I sent an e-mail to Lloyd, saying, “I have this movie. I shot it on 16mm. It has Kato Kaelin,” and kind of gave him the rundown. He wanted to meet with me, because he was going to be in Los Angeles, so we scheduled a meeting a couple days later at a Mexican restaurant. We met, and he saw like, a little kid walk in without any parents, and he was kind of freaked out.
But, he really liked what I was telling him, so he decided to take a chance. He gave me a check for post-production, so he became an executive producer, and later on, Troma decided to release it.
Kansas Bowling's debut feature, B.C. Butcher, is streaming now through Troma Now, and will see a full DVD/VOD release sometime in March, along with a very limited theatrical run.