Bill Boll,Independent filmmaker
Bill Boll, Independent Filmmaker
Bill Boll is an independent filmmaker hailing from St.Louis, Mo. Mr.Boll's is not a classicly
trained fillmaker, although he has been making films since the age of 12. Boll's long trek to creating his first feature film
included being a musician, teacher, writer and even a licensed member of the California Bar. He has drawn from his life experiences
and used them in his filmmaking approach. Boll's work represents what can be accomplished outside the bounds of the
Hollywood movie machine.
Q & A with Bill Boll
Film Addiction: What inspired you to start making films?
always loved movies. I remember being blown away by "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" when my parents took me to see
it at the drive in. I was maybe three or four. I was going through puberty when all the disaster epics of the
seventies came out, like "Earthquake," "Towering Inferno," "Airport 75." I think that's part of the reason I'm so perverted.
By the time I turned twelve, I was shooting one-reel 8mm movies. In high school I met a bunch of other filmmakers (George
Hickenlooper and James Gunn among them) and I think we were all very critical of each other--which is how you learn, right?
FA: How has your background in music helped or hindered you
BB:I think it's been helpful, because I really pay attention to the
when I watch a film. I can't help it. I remember the music cues along with
the action and dialogue.
Sometimes when I envision a scene, I hear the music. Being a composer, it's easier to translate my ideas into a finished score.
But not exceptionally easy. I never actually learned to READ music....
FA: What are your
latest film projects?
BB:Right now I'm directing a documentary about an old Route 66 motel in St.
Louis called The Coral Court. It's entitled "Built for Speed: The Coral Court
Motel." It should
be completed in a matter of months. After that, who knows? I've been working on a couple of feature treatments,
but nothing that's really grabbed me yet.
FA: How was the budget raised for your film and tell about
the film (any interesting happenings on set, etc.)?
BB:I didn't raise a budget for "April
is My Religion." Instead, I shot the film
I could afford to make myself. To keep it cheap, we shot on mini-DV
avoided tricky set-ups. Since the film is very story-driven, I didn't feel that
it had to be visually stunning
or avante garde or anything. I wanted the
audience to relate to the characters and get absorbed into this simple,
universal storyline. And you don't need a lot of money to do that; it's just a
matter of knowing how
to tell a story effectively.
I'm a big proponant of do-it-yourself art. A lot of filmmakers here in St.
are obsessed with raising money for their features, but I think that's a
waste of time. If you're good, you don't
need that much money to make a film. And once you've made a really good film, the money will come. It's out
there. Distributors are always looking for the next "Blair Witch," right?
|Bolls with cast of April Is My Religion
FA: How did you go about publicizing your last film?
really have to worry about publicizing it too much, luckily. It
premiered at our local film festival, so all of our
efforts went into getting
people to the screening. We sent out press releases, put up flyers. I did a
radio, and a public access cable show. When the film played in
out-of-town festivals, there wasn't a whole lot I
felt I could do except contact hip establishments and ask them to put up flyers in their windows. I had mixed success
with that strategy. Nationally, I got a big boost when Film Threat gave it a great review. It
got a lot of
attention from that review, a lot of interest from festivals and
distributors. I didn't get any great offers, though.
But when Film Threat got
into the distribution business, "April is My Religion" was one of the first
picked up. Since I found a distributor relatively quickly, I never even thought about four-walling it, so publicity wasn't
my main concern. I wouldn't even know how to go about doing that anyway.
FA:What is your
strategy for getting your latest documentary out and
about, so it will be seen by the masses?
documentary is a different story, because that's being made on a grant for local television. The granting organization,
CALOP--(Committee for Access of Local Origination Programming)--exists specifically to provide access for shows like this.
So the core audience, St. Louisans who remember the Coral Court Motel, are going to see it on TV, or at a CALOP-sponsored
theatrical screening. But I'm really looking for more than a local audience. I've put close to two years into
this project, and I wouldn't have done that without high expectations. I've got my eye on the big North American festivals,
in other words.
FA: What is your advice to aspiring filmmakers, who have the
going out and making a movie?
BB:Write, shoot, edit, repeat. Seriously. There's
no substitute for
experience, and today, with mini-DV being so freakin' cheap, there's no financial barriers to filmmaking
anymore. When I was in grade school, I spent ten or twelve bucks per reel of film stock. THAT was expensive.
DV tapes aren't. I have no sympathy for anyone whining about money. If these people were more inventive, they'd
find a way to do it. Look at heroin addicts. They're arguably among the least successful members of humanity,
and yet they still find a way to buy heroin--and you never hear them complain about the cost! If you really WANT to
make a movie, you can.
FA: What is the independent film market like in St.Louis. By that I
is there a large market for independent film? Are there film festivals?
BB:We are blessed with a fantastic
fest here--The St. Louis International Film
Festival. They have great programming, high local visibility, and
press coverage. This year is their twelfth year, and in the last couple of years, they've finally started to become
supportive of local efforts. Webster University is becoming more involved with local filmmakers, bringing us into the
classrooms to show our work. Beyond that, we have a film club, a monthly documentary salon, and Stlfilmwire, a website
that basically covers everything related to local film activities. There's a lot of interest, a lot of enthusiasm, but
economically, the film scene is still under the radar. There's no "industry" here yet. I hope that will change
in the next few years....
Built For Speed: The Coral Court Motel
|click pic for details
April Is My Religion Review
April Is My Religion is a little rough as far as filmmaking and
its characters do not display the best of acting, but the storyline is very believable. Director Bill Boll captures the little
idiosyncrasies of the characters much in the same vein as David Gordon Green in All the Real Girls.
If you have experienced the years of college life you can very
easily relate to this movie. The situations the characters go through, especially Jack, could be an example of any college
kids experiences. The dialogue in the film is very fresh and real. It seems like natural everyday conversation and not forced.
This adds to the realism of the film.
The special effects to create an LCD hallucination were phenomenal.
It is amazing to see some of the effects pulled off with a budget of only $10,000.
Bolls represents how the boundaries of filmmaking can be stretched with little resources (financial backing).
This movie should be celebrated through its character driven story.
You are taken away from its low production and drawn into the story from the beginning by the character's dialogue.
The DVD makes a great addition to anyones collection. The DVD
is produced by Film Threat and offers more that just the film. There are 105 minutes of extras including a version of the
movie with the Directors Introduction, Filmmakers Commentary Track, Outtakes, Alternate Scenes and a bonus Short Film.