When you think of a slasher film, images of summer camp and college campuses might dance in your head, but in her first feature film, B.C. Butcher, Kansas Bowling uniquely sets a slasher story in prehistoric times. With Troma set to release B.C. Butcher next year, we caught up with Kansas to discuss making her first movie at the age of seventeen, shooting on 16mm, and much more.
Thanks for taking the time to converse with us, Kansas. Your debut feature film, B.C. Butcher, is a slasher movie set in the prehistoric era. How did you come up with this unique plot?
Kansas Bowling: Thank you so much for showing interest in my film! My friend Kenzie Givens and I came up with the idea when we were in high school. I was 15. It seemed like something easy to do on a tiny budget and it was something that had never been done before!
Did you shoot B.C. Butcher on 16mm for creative or budgetary reasons (or both)?
Kansas Bowling: I shot B.C. Butcher on 16mm because I believe shooting film is the only way for a movie to have integrity. I am not into digital photography and I love the grain and the colors 16mm gives you. Before I shot anything, I contacted Daniel Pearl, the cinematographer for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre [both the original and the remake], and asked him how TCSM got its look and about the film stocks they used. I was very inspired by that specific look, and 16mm really gave me what I wanted.
Are there any horror movies that inspired you to become a filmmaker or influenced how you approached making B.C. Butcher?
Kansas Bowling: So many! Of course, I was influenced by the few films in our genre: Caveman, One Million Years B.C., Troma's A Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell. But also all the rock 'n' roll films of the sixties that bands like The Beatles and Herman's Hermits made, the Beach Party movies with Frankie and Annette, and the Ramones' Rock 'n' Roll High School. I was also very inspired by the works of Herschell Gordon Lewis and Russ Meyer and I grew up watching all of Quentin Tarantino's films.
You were seventeen years old when you made B.C. Butcher. What were the most challenging and rewarding aspects of making a movie at that age?
Kansas Bowling: I didn't have many challenges due to my age, because my cast and most of my crew were very respectful! If you don't think of yourself as a child directing a film, people won't treat you that way. I am very thankful that I've already made my first film at such a young age. This was initially just going to be something I'd do for fun, so it's so amazing it got a distribution deal and people are actually excited to see it. I'm really happy about it.
What was the funding process like for this film? Did you collaborate with your parents, relatives, and friends to help put some bucks behind B.C. Butcher?
Kansas Bowling: I tried doing a crowdfunding campaign at first. I didn't meet my goal of $10,000, but I made $1,700. It was a great tool, though, because it brought a lot of attention to the film and I met a lot of great people through it. Once the campaign was over, I wasn't going to let the lack of funds stop me. It took me about six months, but I saved up the money myself by waiting tables. I lived with my parents then so it was easy for me to save so much. Then I began pre-production!
Where did filming take place? Were there traditional set pieces or was it more of a guerilla shoot?
Kansas Bowling: My dad lives in Topanga Canyon, so I was able to just use his backyard. One of the reasons I wanted to do a prehistoric film was because I knew I already had the location! I was extremely lucky to be able to have it as a set. We shot the ending scene at a waterfall behind a store in Topanga called Jalan Jalan imports and they were nice enough to let us use it. We had a lot of onlookers that day.
In addition to B.C. Butcher, you’ve also filmed several music videos. How did those experiences help prepare you for the live music moments in your movie?
Kansas Bowling: I actually hadn't done anything previous to B.C. Butcher. The music videos I shot while post-production was happening. In the film, there's a scene where the band The Ugly Kids perform a song using watermelons as instruments and it was really the first music video I'd done! But you can check out the videos I've done that are out: "So Long" by Alyeska and "You Needed to Know" by CTZNSHP. I also just finished a video for "Post Teenage Angst" by Kill My Coquette which features cameos from Richie Ramone, Rodney Bingenheimer, and Cherie Currie!
Do you have any favorite directors that have inspired you or influenced your filmmaking style?
Kansas Bowling: Doris Wishman, Russ Meyer, Dario Argento, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Roger Corman, Jack Hill, Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava, and Lloyd Kaufman!
B.C. Butcher grabbed the interest of the great Lloyd Kaufman, who will release it in 2016 through Troma Entertainment. What has it been like to get the support of Troma?
Kansas Bowling: I love Troma! Lloyd and everyone else at Troma has been so amazing and supportive. They just began Troma's Institute for Gifted Youth where they will be releasing films from filmmakers my age, and B.C. Butcher will be the first of the series. They just truly believe in independent filmmaking and I'm really glad I can be a part of such a great group of people, as well as a great catalogue of films. I've been a fan of Troma since I was a kid, so it's so surreal to have my movie being put out by them.
With B.C. Butcher due out next year, what projects do you have on deck that you can tease for our readers, and where can they find you on social media?
Kansas Bowling: I'm just beginning my next film... It won't be a horror film but fans of cult cinema won't be disappointed. Think Bye Bye Birdie meets Mondo Cane. Keep yourself updated on B.C. Butcher by following our Twitter @theBCButcher or like us at www.facebook.com/thebcbutcher. To read about my other work you can visit www.kansas-bowling.com
Here's a look at exclusive photos from B.C. Butcher. Above photo courtesy of Andy Lu.