Wrasslin' with Rayen Belchere - October 2019
Interview by: Ronny

We are back, finally, closing in on the actual end of Film Bizarro, with the first person we ever interviewed. Sure, we interviewed Rayen Belchere yet again just a few years back, in one of our more recent interviews (interviews is something we didn't do much towards the end). Well here we are again, saying thank you to one of the friendliest people we've been in contact with, and one that supported us from the start. We have to check in one last time on none other than Rayen Belchere:

Interviews on Film Bizarro literally started with you, Rayen Belchere, which was almost exactly 11 years ago now. We interviewed you again in 2016, to keep track on you. But here we are, in 2019, ending Film Bizarro and need one last chat. How have you been?
Been great, after Neato I went back to music and was really happy with what we had done. I lived in L.A. for awhile a few years back but ultimately came back home. I find it's easier to get Hollywood's attention from the outside.

Your debut feature, Neato Mosquito, was just about to come out when we first talked (we ended up reviewing it and loved it). Neato is now twice as old as one of the films that inspired it, Napoleon Dynamite, was when you released it. How has the response been to the movie since?
I knew we made a great indie film but all these years later it still gets views, DVD sales, and it's about to go up on Amazon streaming. I always feel like art has a way of finding its audience and Neato did that. It gets watched every day on YouTube from folks all over the world. It's cool when it's "new" for folks and they tell me how it made them feel.

I know we're tackled some of these questions before, but it's something that always fascinates us here at Film Bizarro. Five years ago you uploaded the full film on Youtube, for people to enjoy for free. Just 3 years ago it was at 15,000 viewers; it's currently sitting at around an impressive 26,000 views. Are you still satisfied with putting your film out there for free, and has your views on distribution changed since then?
When I lived in L.A. for awhile I sat in on a panel at The Directors Guild and someone asked the head of Netflix how an indie film can get their attention. He responded "Give it away on YouTube. If it gets 10k natural, real views you made a great film. Then we'll notice it." He was right. Netflix showed interest but wanted ownership of the entire movie for nothing. I debated it 'cause it would expose the movie to more folks but then Amazon came along and while there isn't much money involved we still own the movie. Better deal and it's a bigger platform. Today there are so many outlets you just have to make something people wanna watch. Distribution is pretty easy now compared to when we made it.

This year Neato is celebrating its 10 year anniversary - and to celebrate that you shot and uploaded a new scene to kind of "close the book" on the film. Can you talk a bit about why you decided it was important to return to say farewell?
Well I would get asked a ton about a part two and we'd joke and kid about it. Brian Oxendine (my partner in film) and I were really putting thought into it for a minute. Then tragically our friend and brother Jerry (Willie) passed away and he was such a big part of the movie we decided then a part two will never happen. He was, in my opinion, the star of the movie. So we thought to honor him we could shoot one final scene and end the movie and make him a famous rapper which was his passion in life. It felt right and, honestly, there were lots of things about that film that needed the door closed on it. Not in a bad way, but just in a creative way. We have to evolve... On to the next chapter and story. Neato never had a cap on it. It does now.

Recently you had a chat with none other than Jason Mewes of View Askew fame at a convention, and handed him a copy of the film. How did that meeting go?
He told me he had seen it and loved it. Asked if he could keep the DVD. It's no secret that I was heavily influenced by Kevin Smith and his story. Not so much his movies but his story of just saying "Fuck it, let's make a movie". But Jason was a really great guy and I'm looking forward to "Jay and Silent Bob Reboot".

Now let's talk about today. I know you have a new film project going, which I don't know a whole lot about. Is it related to a project we heard about in our previous interview called "Babyface Brad & The Holy Ghost Killers"?
Well that film was gonna be the continuation of Neato but when we lost Jerry there was no more discussion of making it. We had spoken with him and he was gonna be a big part of it. There's no replacing some folks and he's one of those folks. So the next feature we're working on now is called "Cooter Jenkins the Backyard Wrastler". Think Kenny Powers on steroids.

Can you tell us what the film will be about?
It's based in the same town as Neato, I'll be directing and scoring so the time will remain consistent and quirky. Brian Oxendine is gonna be the star of the film. I've wanted to direct a feature around him since Neato. The guy is a comedy gold mine with his wit, delivery and improv, and I want the world to see that. The story will be very simple. This is gonna be a movie where you're invested in the character. Kenny Powers is the best comparison I can make.

What are some other major inspirations, outside of Kenny Powers?
To make us laugh and if others like it great! That's the goal. Same one we had with Neato. If it becomes something bigger then "Hell Yea", but just working with Brian again is my motivation.

You seem like a guy who stays close to his friends. Can we expect some familiar faces from Neato Mosquito returning, outside of the above mentioned?
It'll be based in the same fictional town of Biscuit Towne and as of now Kiley Keithly "Loretta" is coming back and a few others like Leroy Smooth. There are a few characters from Neato that no longer live there, but we have a few new residents that I'm excited to show off! Once a character is no longer a resident of Biscuit Towne we find clever ways to give them a proper send off. You'll have to watch the next one to see who still resides there and who has moved on. I hope that doesn't sound negative because it's not. Just don’t wanna make the same movie over and over. Some of the same ingredients? Yes... Just not the same recipe.

Doesn't sound negative at all! One of my favorite things about Neato Mosquito was the cheerful soundtrack, by none other than yourself. Will the new film have a similar style?
Yes.. I feel the songs in Neato were kinda their own character and this time around won't be any different. Just different songs, but same quirky vibe.

Of course, you are a musician first so it's impossible not to ask: are you working on any new albums?
I have a new record coming out on Halloween called "It's a Beautiful Day to be a Bad Motherfucker". It's songs I wrote while living in L.A. I always wanted to make an L.A. record and this is it. I dusted them off and just recorded them acoustic, 1 takes. Flaws and all... I had plans to record 'em in a real studio, fully produced, but I'm not in that head space. I just wanted the songs to exist outside of my head. It's a part of my life I wanted to share and it's pretty simple. No big promotion or anything. Maybe two videos and that's it. It'll find the folks it's intended for. I really believe that.

Anything else going in the world of Rayen Belchere?
Well I have this new record coming out, filming the new movie starts later this year and this is the first time I'm mentioning this in public; but in my spare time I've been writing a musical just to challenge my brain a little. I've never liked to just repeat myself over and over. If you don't surprise folks from time to time I think you'tr doing your talent of creating an injustice. Plus it'll be weird and awesome! You and Film Bizarro will always be close to my heart. You covered Neato when everyone laughed at the idea and for that I will forever thank you. He who gets the last laugh... The fact all these years later it still has a life... I think we got that last laugh!

Thank you so much, Rayen. For the kind words, and for putting up with our curiosity once again - many years later! Any last words?
Anyone wanting to watch Neato Mosquito for free can go to NeatoMosquitoMovie.com, and my music is available on all streaming and download sites. Feel free to follow me @ Rayen Belcere on everything.


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