Bounty Killer is a new post-apocalyptic movie that was released today on VOD and in select theaters. We caught up with the movie's director and co-writer, Henry Saine, for our latest Q&A feature. Continue reading to learn about the cartoon and short film that came first, his experience on the set of Bounty Killer, and future plans for his post-apocalyptic world:
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Henry. How long have you had the idea for Bounty Killer? Was this a world you wanted to get into ever since you first caught Mad Max (or another post apocalyptic-movie)?
Henry Saine: I've always loved the world that George Miller created in Road Warrior and Mad Max, but also the nuttier movies like Ice Pirates and Roger Corman's Death Race 2000, so it was always a sand box I wanted to play in. Years ago, when the Enron scandal happened, Jason Dodson (Co-writer of Bounty Killer) thought it would be a wild idea that a corporation's lust for greed would actually end the world. We wanted to make a post apocalyptic movie about hunting these white collar criminals. As the years went by and the stock market actually did crash and the housing bubble burst, we were shocked that an idea about the world ending due to corporate greed wasn't so far fetched after all.
Before going to production on the feature, you filmed a Bounty Killer short back in 2011. Was the plan always to use the short as a pitch for a full feature?
Henry Saine: Yes. And even before that, we had created a rough cartoon. Jason and I had bounced around the idea many a years ago and it wasn't until we had made a cartoon that anyone started paying attention. An animation company, Kickstart, had seen the cartoon and helped us develop it into an animated series. We went around to all the various networks pitching the show -- our highlight, meeting with Samuel Jackson who was looking for more projects after the success of Afro Samurai. Not only was the show too violent and animating action too expensive, but none of the companies could sell the idea of hunting corporations when those very corporations would ultimately be paying for the advertising for the cartoon show. Since the intention was always to make a live action feature anyway, I figured the next step was to make a short film. In developing the cartoon, I came up with an idea about an airstream being pulled by motorcycles that people always loved. So I bought the airstream for myself so that I wouldn't have a way to go back --I would have to make the short somehow. I made a pitch book with concept art and an action scene involving the airstream, fully storyboarded and took it back to Kickstart to see if they could help. Jason Netter and Samantha Olson Shear at Kickstart immediately responded to the pitch book and funded the short along with funding a comic book that an eventual movie could be based on.
Was it easy to get this full project off the ground? Can you tell our readers a little bit about your road to getting this movie made?
Henry Saine: By no means was it easy, but I will say it was a little easier having a cartoon, a short film and a comic book script to give investors the vision of what movie we were trying to do. The short film also helped in getting potential partners and actors a sense that we could pull something like this off, even with a small budget. It not only helped sell me and my team including Colin Ebeling (Co-producer and Co-writer) , but also Christian Pitre-Davis and Barak Hardley as Mary Death and Jack LeMans who were both in the short film. Even with all those assets, I still had to make another pitch book with concept art and storyboards for the actual feature. We also made location videos to show how we could turn one location into four. Even with all the artwork and the video tests, it was a constant dance of show and tell until we were finally given a go to make the movie.
The film and script do a great job of mixing action sequences with humor and character development. Was it more challenging for you to work on the humor or to film action scenes?
Henry Saine: I guess I would say filming the action sequences due to our limited time and budget. Where as most movies of this scale get days or even weeks to shoot their scenes, we would sometimes have only a few hours to shoot particular action scenes. The entire cast and crew, top to bottom, are all inherently funny, so there was no shortage of screwy ideas to keep the comedy infused with the action.
You were able to assemble quite a talented cast for this movie. Who was the most difficult to get on board or who were you most surprised that you were able to cast in the movie?
Henry Saine: To be honest, we were always shocked to get confirmations and all of a sudden be talking to Matthew, Eve, Beverly D'Angelo, Kristanna Loken, Abraham and Gary Busey on the phone about this apocalyptic movie they were going to be in. Kevin McNally was another actor I always admired and actually based the character of Daft Willy in the cartoon on him. It was surreal to be on set with Kevin because to me, it was almost a drawing come to life. All of the actors all knew what they signed on for and just rolled with the insanity so honestly, the most difficult part for me was working around their schedules. With a tight budget you're very limited with the amount of time you can work with certain actors.
This film doesn't have the budget of a major Hollywood movie, but you were still able to pull of some big action sequences. Can you tell our readers about your experience on set filming these action scenes? Was it as fun for you to film as it looks?
Henry Saine: It was incredibly hard and challenging, but also a complete blast. I was hanging out of an SUV that had a giant camera crane attached to it, riding through the desert being chased by apocalyptic maniacs in hot rods -- I really couldn't complain. Because it was a tight schedule of eighteen days, I did a lot of pre-planning with our stunt coordinator Randy Archer and his team with storyboards. Randy and I would have meetings at Bob's Big Boy over milkshakes and at three in the morning, would just act out the action, throwing each other around booths in the restaurant. For the desert chase, we were laying on the ground on the dry lake bed with toy cars mapping out to everyone what we were going to do. Another huge help was having Christian, Matthew and Barak train ahead of time with their doubles, particularly Rick and Stacy Marcus who were incredible. All 3 of them were prepared for planned stunts and anything we would make up on the day. Again, with all of this, doing so much on a short schedule was extremely hard, but there were days I'd be standing in a pool of blood holding a severed head, Christian hanging from a wire rig and we'd all be smiling at each other, "Can you believe we're doing this?"
You've set up this big world and all these characters. Are there any plans to come back to Bounty Killer, whether it be a sequel, prequel, short or something else?
Henry Saine: Its all in the very early talking stages and we'd love to continue on with Bounty Killer. When we were pitching Bounty Killer as cartoon, we wrote an entire season of adventures which gave us a massive catalogue of ideas to play with, both in fun back stories as well as great ideas for what the future holds for our heroes.
With the movie now complete and hitting theaters, have you set your sights on your next directorial project? What can you tell us about it?
Henry Saine: I have a few ideas in early development that range all over the map from an adaptation of period piece biography, to a sci-fi space adventure, to a musical set in Japan. Learning what I did during and after the production of Bounty Killer, I'm starting to realized that anything is possible especially with the great team we built along the way.
"It’s been 20 years since the corporations took over the world’s governments. Their thirst for power and profits led to the corporate wars, a fierce global battle that laid waste to society as we know it. Born from the ash, the Council of Nine rose as a new law and order for this dark age. To avenge the corporations’ reckless destruction, the Council issues death warrants for all white collar criminals. Their hunter’s – the BOUNTY KILLER. From amateur savage to graceful assassin, the BOUNTY KILLER’S now compete for body count, fame and a fat stack of cash. They’re ending the plague of corporate greed by exterminating the self serving CEO and providing the survivors of the apocalypse with retribution. These are the new heroes. This is the age of the BOUNTY KILLER."