Indiana-based filmmakers Scott Schirmer (FOUND) and Brian Williams (TIME TO KILL) joined forces to form Bandit Motion Pictures in 2016. The first production from Bandit was HARVEST LAKE, an erotic fantasy/horror very much unlike anything else in the independent horror scene. They followed that film with PLANK FACE, a highly unique take on “cannibals in the woods” horror. As of this writing, Bandit is in the middle of an Indiegogo campaign for their latest feature film project, a sci-fi sex comedy titled SPACE BABES FROM OUTER SPACE. Daily Grindhouse spoke with SPACE BABES writer/director Brian Williams about sex, sci-fi, and successful crowdfunding.
DG: All of the feature films you guys have produced since 2012 have had a strong horror bent. Where did the idea of doing a sci-fi sex comedy come from?
BRIAN WILLIAMS (BW): I probably love sex comedies as much or more than I do horror films. I mostly just love the 60’s through the 80’s, all the fun, crazy films of those decades are what drew me in as a youngster and made me a fan for life. I’d like to make ALL the movies! I want to make a coming of age film about a teenage runaway girl, my influences and tastes are all over the place. The great thing about being independent is as long as you can find a few other people to get behind the project, you can do whatever the hell you want.
DG: Were there any movies in particular that you were inspired by when writing and producing SPACE BABES? Any that you recommended the cast and/or crew check out for reference for style and tone?
BW: I was raised in a Christianity-based cult that my father was a minister in. We had a T.V. but no cable and my parents were very strict about what I was able to watch, but I had an older sister who made me a couple VHS tapes that had films she had recorded off of cable that I watched over and over and over. These movies shaped who I am as a person, and very much were an influence on my writing, visual style, and just how I view the world. In particular I asked the cast to watch BETTER OFF DEAD, SPICE WORLD, SPLASH, and SCREWBALLS.
DG: Are you a fan of the Surrender and Seduction Cinema sci-fi softcore movies from the ’90s?
BW: I actually have a couple Seduction Cinema posters hanging up in my office, and own most of the Seduction Cinema/Surrender/Shock-o-rama DVDs that are out there. I love softcore, more than hardcore porn, always have. I also have a Misty Mundae signed 8×10 photo in my office right next to my computer monitor. She was by far my favorite actress of those films, and I’d love to work with her on the right project someday.
DG: Both HARVEST LAKE and PLANK FACE have featured sex as a major part of their stories, and Bandit released an erotic short titled “Switch” on Vimeo VOD. Why have sex and sexuality been so prominent in your recent work?
BW: Sex is awesome. It’s beautiful, and disgusting, and joyous, and terrible, and frightening, and inviting, and creates and destroys lives. I will never tire of it, especially when it’s weird, wrong, taboo, or special in some way, which it usually is. The ugly side of it is equally as interesting, because it’s every day terrible things that happen all around us but nobody ever talks about. It’s real, and gritty, and primal, and we all deal with it in our own ways. With SPACE BABES, we wanted to explore the lighthearted, fun side of sex. It’s a celebration of boobs, of the female body, all mixed in with a good old-fashioned love story. Sex will likely play a key role in any of the films we do, just because of all of these reasons.
DG: Do you have an overriding philosophy as to how sex is addressed in your films, or do you determine the approach based on the project?
BW: Very much based on the project. Sex can be used to incite fear or dread, like in HARVEST LAKE or PLANK FACE, and can be used to incite laughter or joy like in SPACE BABES, and I’m sure we will explore it in other ways in future projects.
DG: There’s a pretty healthy independent filmmaking scene in Ohio, but what’s it like working as independent filmmakers in Indiana?
BW: We bring in actors from all over the place, including Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and all over the country. Indiana is centrally based for us and we have some beautiful scenery, but I don’t think it really matters too much where we are doing it as long as we are able to continue working with great people, and there are great people all over the place. I have traveled to several different states/areas working on films with different people, and the people are what makes it work. Good people are the key.
DG: What was the casting process like for SPACE BABES? Did you have certain people in mind when you were writing the script?
BW: There were certain people in mind while I was writing, and some of those ended up playing those roles, and other people were not able to for whatever reason. There were also some roles that we had several auditions for, specifically the three Space Babes. We have some people we like to work with over and over because they are damn good, and able to do about anything we ask of them. But we also like to work with new people and expand our stable of actors. There are over 50 different actors in this film, so we were able to get the chance to work with a lot of new people, as well as some familiar faces that we have had the pleasure of working with in the past.
DG: SPACE BABES exceeded its crowdfunding goal on the first day of the campaign, and just hit its first stretch goal. The fundraising for HARVEST LAKE and PLANK FACE sort of set the stage for this, as they were both quite successful as well. Could you talk a bit about how Bandit got to this point where you’ve been able to successfully integrate crowdfunding into your approach to production?
BW: Unfortunately a lot of indie film fans/supporters have lost faith in crowdfunding, and understandably so. There have been more than enough Indiegogo/Kickstarter campaigns that have not yet followed through with the promise of perks, or a completed film, and it would appear that some of them have no plans to ever do so, essentially taking the fans money, and running away with it. That’s gross, and sad, and makes someone want to write off the entire thing. Luckily we have been able to successfully use Indiegogo on several occasions, and have built a strong following of people who have confidence in us, and know that we will follow through with what we promise. Having the film already shot and in post production, with a turnaround time of only a couple months from the time you pay, to the time you have the perks in your hands helps a lot I’m sure, and as long as we are able to continue having successful campaigns, we will be able to continue doing it in this fashion.
Our first goal is a bare minimum needed just to produce the physical media offered in the campaign, which is why it is our first goal. If we don’t reach that first goal, we can’t replicate the discs, and the campaign has failed. If we reach that first goal, our stretch goals are to get more product/content into our backers hands, and we like to make the pre-order/backers copies/perks special. For SPACE BABES, we are adding trading cards that are a campaign exclusive, and our next goal if reached will make the film a campaign exclusive two disc set that will include an entire extra disc of crazy content that will only be available through the pre-order campaign. If you want that second disc and that limited edition cover, you will have to pre-order it within the next three weeks, or you will not get any of that extra content. We have always said as long as we are able to keep making films, we will keep doing it, and we live and die by the pre-order.
This is our full time job and we don’t get paid for it, but we spend plenty to get the films made: paying actors, artists, effects, sound person, locations, supplies, etc. So the pre-order is where we are able to first pay for the products/perks, shipping, outstanding fees from the film, then ourselves, then get a head start on pre-production of the next film. I think we are able to be successful because we are not asking for money to make a film that you will hopefully get in a year or two, but we are saying here is this film that is already shot, deep in post production, here is the trailer, stills, synopsis, and you will have it in your hands in only a couple months, and we have a track record now of following through with those things, and hopefully giving people films that they can enjoy.
DG: You’ve hinted that Bandit has another project in the works to begin production in the near future. Can you talk about that at all yet?
BW: We are really hoping to go into production within the next couple months on a film that we tried raising money for last year called THE BAD MAN. Scott wrote the script, and it’s dark, disturbing, emotional horror, and again, unlike anything Bandit has done yet. It’s an amazing script, and I really hope we are able to make it this year. We also have another sex comedy that I am finishing up the script for that we’d like to possibly do this year as well. It all depends on how the pre-order goes for SPACEBABES on what we do next, since we live and die one film at a time. It’s very rough, and scary doing this full time, the way that we are, in this day and age, but as long as our fans keep supporting us, and as long as that fan base continues to grow, we will continue putting out films, and hopefully continue to grow as artists and storytellers.
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