Rayen Belchere was the very first person we interviewed, back in 2008. We were clueless about what Film Bizarro would become and how to do pretty much anything. Likewise, Rayen Belchere was clueless about filmmaking in the sense that he was about to embark on his debut feature "Neato Mosqutio" (a movie we reviewed and enjoyed once it was finally completed). Rayen has become part of our Film Bizarro family by simply being a great guy and artist - someone we support greatly and him us. Rayen is now about to return to filmmaking and we want to make sure we're the first to report it by doing an interview with him!
You were the first person we interviewed back in 2008, and you had just made "Neato Mosquito". How has the movie been received since then?
Thanks for being one of the first sites to take the film serious. Everyone knew me as a music guy so when I announced I was making a feature length film very few folks thought it would actually happen. The film has done better than I could have imagined. It never became a real hit or anything but it's been acquired and streamed on several of streaming sites like Youtube generating over 15k views and the DVD is on its 3rd pressing. It played in a couple actual movie theaters and it slowly over the years became a niche film favorite among folks. I get messages about it every week and when I'm out playing. Even as far as Sweden (as you know) folks will recite quotes to me from the film. My goal was to just actually make a movie but it's done way better than I expected as it still has a life. For anyone interested you can watch it free on Youtube or go to BourbonCrow.bigcartel.com to buy a DVD.
How was the process of getting a movie printed and distributed for you?
That was a bit of a pain. Back then the technology wasn't even close to what it is now. Today there's so many distribution channels. To me it's kinda cool that folks are still discovering it all these years later. It's new to them.
I always have respect for filmmakers who upload their work on Youtube at some point for the world to see, which you did with "Neato Mosquito". What was your plan when you decided to do that?
Like I said my goal wasn't to make money it was to make a movie and I was very proud of it. DVDs kinda died off and I had the choice to sell it digitally, rent it, streaming etc. but it meant more to just give it to folks as I knew more would likely give it a watch. That's been the best decision so far for the movie. Giving it away on Youtube has brought an entire new audience and a bigger fan base for my next project. Filmmakers who try to recoup their money shouldn't even make films. It's rare to make money. Do it 'cause you love it.
Since making "Neato Mosquito" you've moved to Hollywood, and now you are working on a new movie. Has moving there inspired the decision to get back in the director's chair?
I've always known I would make another film but being a full time musician makes it a little tough. I would write scripts or outlines and throw 'em away all the time as none felt like the right project, but one day while recovering from knee surgery I pulled out my note pad and started sketching an idea and when the ending hit me I knew at that moment finally a film I would make has hit me. I kinda waited for the right inspiration and I'm glad I did. Like I said. It's passion over money so it had to be something I just had to make.
You haven't officially announced your new movie yet, but we've talked about it briefly. What can you tell us about it and do you have a title for it yet?
Title is "Babyface Brad and The Holy Ghost Killers". It's my tribute, or result of inspiration, to the early Tarantino films. I'm such a fan of his and his early films. This outline started to take a Tarantino tone and then I just embraced it and decided to completely allow myself to write in that voice. As someone who's a fan of his genre. Not try to disguise it like so many do. I would even go sit in the booth he wrote "Pulp Fiction" in at Barney's Beanery in Hollywood. So while this film will have my personality and Southern quirkiness, it's fully an all out inspired film. It's a vigilante, bounty hunter film based around two brothers who are small time pro wrestlers. My partner and producer Brian Oxendine will be producing and co-starring in the film. I wrote his role specifically for him. He's a great character actor and he loves this genre too so I know he's gonna shine in it.
As Tarantino is an inspiration, I can imagine that it will be dialogue heavy, but can we also expect a true crime-esque violence to it?
Very much but in a different way than he uses it. I took that element and put my twist on it.
Can we expect it to follow the footsteps of "Neato Mosquito"?
In the fact that it'll be Southern filmed, the quirkiness will be there and probably a few cameos but that's about it.
What lessons did you learn from making your first film that will help you when making the new movie?
Wow.. So many. I was totally green making "Neato Mosquito". Never made anything so I think that kind of helped. Sometimes ignorance is bliss 'cause making a 90 min movie is really, really hard. The less people you have to depend on the better. Have a decent budget. Don't accept a bad take just to get to the next scene. Don't shoot in summer in the South as it gets insanely hot and humid. Those are a few things.
When can we expect to see "Babyface Brad and The Holy Ghost Killers"?
We're assembling the team now and casting is pretty much done. Gonna start building a webpage and leak some teaser stuff soon like the poster I sent you. Hope to film interiors this summer and wrap by September which means the movie will probably be out early to mid next year.
Have you thought about how you would want to distribute it?
Living in LA all of last year my place was literally next door to the Directors Guild. I spent a lot of time there making friends and contacts. There's so many networks out now and streaming services looking for original content. I have sent the outline to a few friends in the business and have several offers to distribute. I'm gonna make it first then decide. Keeps the film true and untouched by network or studio ideas of what it needs to be. I don't expect this one to be a big hit money maker so again I'm gonna make the exact film I want to make. I came home to Carolina earlier this year for knee surgery but I'm staying here to do the movie as I wanna shoot it here and then the plan is to head back to Hollywood and try to get it released, and Bourbon Crow has some touring plans late in the year.
Anil Dhokai worked as a cinematographer on "Neato Mosquito" which helped elevate the movie to a higher quality than many independent efforts. Any idea who will be operating the camera on the new movie, and is there a certain style you are going for?
It could very well be Anil but I haven't talked to him about it yet. That's usually, for me, the last part of the team I put together. Though I do have a unique vision for the filming. I don't want to give it away just yet but it's gonna surprise some folks.
Crowdfunding has become a huge thing. You recently did a kickstarter for your band Bourbon Crow and it did quite well. Is this something you see yourself doing more of, and would you go this route with your new movie if needed?
Yeah, if my films create a dedicated following enough then I think that's the way to go. Even with this movie I've avoided accepting any deals so I can make the exact movie I want. I can kind of gauge if there's a big enough audience to use crowdfunding. If this film generates that kind of energy I'd definitely use it for another film.
In a dream scenario, who would you most like to cast in your new movie?
Man that's a great question. To be honest I love using relatively unknown folks but since this is an out loud tribute to the early Tarantino stuff I guess QT would be cool, or Kevin Smith. Would love to see him in a serious role.
Thanks for doing this interview with us. Do you have anything to add for your fans?
Thanks to everyone for the constant support of my music and movie adventures. If you wanna follow me and the process add Rayen Belchere on Facebook, Twitter, Instgram etc. There'll be a movie page soon at BabyfaceBrad.com. A big thank you to Ronny and Film Bizarro for always having my back and supporting me.