"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> STEVE BALDERSON
Director STEVE BALDERSON Let's Loose!!!!
By: Ginger Coyote
It was truly and honor to be able to interview Steve Balderson. Not only is Steve friendly and down to earth... He is also very TALENTED.... I recently saw his latest Movie "Stuck" and I left the Theater with a huge smile of satisfaction. For those of you readers who are not familiar with him or films. Go to his website and purchase them all. You will not be disappointed. They RULE !
Punk Globe: Thanks so much for the interview Steve. Can you tell the readers at what age did you realize that you wanted to be a Director
BALDERSON: I think I was like seven or eight. My grandfather had a video camera and we started making home movies then. My sister and brother were always the dead bodies or being chased. It was fun.
Punk Globe: Tell us more about your early life growing up?
BALDERSON: I grew up in small-town Kansas. It was incredibly repressive and I didn't know how to fit in. In a predominately sports-oriented part of the world it's very difficult to fit in anywhere for an artist. The people here would rather give money to the sports programs and take it away from the art programs because they think it's totally unnecessary. All that said, living here now is a blessing because I can be focused and do my work without having to deal with them.
Punk Globe: Can you tell us where Manhattan is located at in Kansas?
BALDERSON: It's in the North East corner of Kansas, kind of. Only about an hour and a half from Kansas City.
Punk Globe: Is it true that you did not attend your graduation and that you refused your diploma?
BALDERSON: Hahahaha! Yes.
Punk Globe: I understand that you came to California and went to College. It was while attending school that you directed six films.. One being an adaption pf an Anne Rice book. Tell us about that.
BALDERSON: Yes, I went to CalArts up in Valencia. One of our assignments, which was supposed to be a short film, was about... Oh, I can't remember what it was supposed to be about, but instead of a short I did an adaptation of "The Vampire Lestat." My professors were very confused. But I was quickly moved into independent study with my dean one on one and didn't have to go back to any of my regular classes.
Punk Globe: Who were some of your favorite Directors and film makers while growing up?
BALDERSON: I love Hitchcock (my favorite is either "Vertigo" or "Shadow of a Doubt"), John Huston (my all-time favorite is "Night of the Iguana").
Punk Globe: After college you chose to return to Manhattan Kansas. Can you tell us why?
BALDERSON: Well, I returned home because I needed to make a film (which became "Pep Squad") and I knew that we could shoot it in Kansas without unions or permits, or any of that crap.
Punk Globe: Like John Waters using Baltimore as a home base.. Do you agree that you have given Manhattan alot of notoriety?
BALDERSON: Well, not so much. But I think that's because Kansas State University is here and they're all obsessed with football.
Punk Globe: Can you tell us about making your first full length Pep Squad?
BALDERSON: "Pep Squad" is about school violence, and making fun of it. But we made it before all the episodes of school violence happened in our country. So when it came out it was too controversial for most companies to release it.
Punk Globe: Can you tell us about this film and it's affiliation with Troma Films?
BALDERSON: Lloyd Kaufman is a great friend and mentor to me. His company Troma will be releasing the 10-year anniversary Blur-ray and DVD on May 25!!! It will be so much fun to see again. And the artwork they did is great. Reminds me of all those awesome 1980s movies with Molly Ringwald, only this time we can enjoy them shooting each other.
Punk Globe: Who did you cast and did you have an open casting call?
BALDERSON: I cast friends from CalArts and family members. It was a real home-grown effort. I think I might have done a casting call but not sure. It was a decade ago.
Punk Globe: Your next film was Firecracker and your cast was very impressive.. Tell us about getting Karen Black and Mike Patton involved?
BALDERSON: That is such a long story I'm not sure I can even begin it! We made a documentary on it that you can watch in full on YouTube. It was actually a featured movie, so you can watch all 100 minutes in one clip! Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EouCltpsVo
Punk Globe: Where did you shoot the film at?
BALDERSON: in Wamego, Kansas. "Firecracker" is based on a crime that happened there in the 50s.
Punk Globe: You also had Jane Wiedlin, Pleasant Gehman, Selena Luna, Susan Traylor , Amy Kelly and various other luminaries in the film.. How hard was that?
BALDERSON: It was a challenging shoot since we had so many people coming and going – and about 42 people on the crew alone! It was really overwhelming. But in the end it was all worth it.
Punk Globe: Can you tell the readers some of the accolades that you got from the film?
BALDERSON: We got a lot of acclaim for it and many awards. Karen Black won a ton of Best Actress awards at festivals all across the globe. And Roger Ebert even named it on his list of 2005's best films. It was awesome.
Punk Globe: There is a very interesting story about Watch Out .. Can you give the readers a synopsis of the film?
BALDERSON: Watch Out is based on Joseph Suglia's dazzling novel about a man who falls in love with himself – literally. It was a fun shoot.
Punk Globe: How did you find Matt Riddlehoover and how about Lady Monster?
BALDERSON: Joseph Suglia mentioned him to me, but I'd already been emailing Matt because I wanted to be in one of his movies. Matt said he had to play the part. I was skeptical, but decided ‘why not' and Joseph agreed. Lady Monster was introduced to me because she was friends with Pleasant Gehman, and as soon as we met we hit it off, she's fantastic!
Punk Globe: Who else was in the cast?
BALDERSON: Peter Stickles from "Shortbus," author/poet Mike Adams, Jillian Lauren and the incomparable Betti O!
Punk Globe: I remember you used Brandon Smith in the film and he said the majority of the film was shot in Kansas right?
BALDERSON: Yes. All in Kansas totally under the radar! It's the start of the new era of renegade filmmaking.
Punk Globe: You must tell us about Phone Sex.? Pleasant was hilarious..
BALDERSON: My god, yes. Plez is hysterical in "Phone Sex." That was an experimental art installation I made primarily as a background movie. Kind of like a music album, it can be played at parties in the background and can be used as a conversation piece. It isn't meant to be a movie to sit down and watch like a normal narrative film. It's more about fun and novelty.
Punk Globe: Your latest film is Stuck and it is great.. What made you decide to film the movie in Black and White?
BALDERSON: I just loved "I Want To Live!" with Susan Hayward, and just thought B&W would be the best way to do it. I just love the look of women behind bars in B&W!
Punk Globe : Is this the first time that you have worked with Mink Stole? You again have the wonderful Karen Black in the cast.. Tell us who else in the cast?
BALDERSON: Pleasant Gehman, Stacy Cunningham, Starina Johnson, Jane Wiedlin and Betti O are the others in the cast. Mink Stole is fantastic in the film. This was the first time I've worked with her but we've known each other for a while. I can't wait to work with her again. I'm headed to Boston this week for the Boston Underground Film Festival where Mink is getting a Lifetime Achievement Award and we'll be presenting "Stuck!" I can't wait to see her again!
Punk Globe: Jane told me that you filmed in Georgia just a few miles from where her ex Surreal Life roommate Da Brat is in the the Big House for assault.. She would have been perfect for this film. What made you pick Georgia?
BALDERSON: Macon Georgia had a film festival that honored Karen Black, and I went and Karen and I presented "Firecracker" together. When I was there I fell in love with the place and knew we had to make "Stuck!" there. It was an awesome experience. Macon is very weird.
Punk Globe: How has the reviews for Stuck been? I loved the Actress you had play the Prison Matron? And the Blonde that caught Pleasant's (who is so great with her Amy Winehouse Cholita eye makeup) is also really good.. Tell us about them?
BALDERSON: Stacy Cunningham is the guard. She and I went to CalArts together and have wanted to work together for quite a while. I knew she'd be perfect to play the mean Amazon guard. Starina Johnson plays the lead "Daisy." Starina had a cameo in "Watch Out" and I knew she was an amazing actress but I didn't know she was as TOTALLY amazing! She just blew all of our socks off.
Punk Globe: Have you found a good distributor for this film?
BALDERSON: We just sold the rights to a distribution agent who is taking the movie to buyers as we speak! She's in Hong Kong now at the film market there.
Punk Globe: Did you write Stuck?
BALDERSON: I co-wrote it with Frankie Krainz, who is a brilliant screen writer. He reminds me of Tennessee Williams but more to the point. He and I are working on our next script now. It's about a group of damaged women who have a recipe club.
Punk Globe: You seem to continually work with a few of these actors? Do you write parts with them in mind?
BALDERSON: Sometimes I do, yes. But even if I've written a part with someone in mind, it's also fun to cast them in other parts.
Punk Globe: Can you give the readers any web addresses to find out more information on your films?
BALDERSON: www.DIKENGA.com is my website where people can buy dvds and do more research. I'm also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/stevebalderson and they can follow me on twitter @sbalderson
Punk Globe: Have any of your films ever been nominated for a Spirit Award?
BALDERSON: We've been nominated for Best Feature at several respected film festivals, but not a Spirit Award. Yet. Susan Traylor was nominated for a Spirit Award for her role in "Valerie Flake" (which she should've won but it went to Hilary Swank for "Boys Don't Cry").
Punk Globe: What did you think of Matthew Bright's film Freeway? You should send him a copy of Stuck I know he loves Women in Prison Movies!
BALDERSON: LOVE that movie! Yes, I should totally send him a copy!
Punk Globe: Any last words for Punk Globe readers?
BALDERSON: We love Punk Globe!