by JC Gonzo
[Editor’s Note: Tucker Bennett stars in Jon Moritsugu’s upcoming film PIG DEATH MACHINE, featured earlier here.]
In 2009, Tucker Bennett and Zach Shipko‘s D-I-Y film debut WHY ARE YOU WEIRD? caught notable press (Interview Magazine) and like-minded underground auteurs like Jon Moritsugu, who later snagged Tucker for a role in the upcoming film PIG DEATH MACHINE. Centered around awkward San Franciscan art students and their day-to-day drama, WHY ARE YOU WEIRD? served as a fresh and ironic take on today’s youth culture. The two return with a second full-length feature, BLOODRAPE, co-directed with Taeer Maymon.
Sick of hiding in the shadows, an 80s “all-girl-vampire-hardcore-thrash-punk band/gang” spare the lives of two teenage counter-culture fanatics, taking them on tour to make a documentary. Riding out like a sexploitative parody of underground scene documentaries, BLOODRAPE is both comically self-effacing and shamelessly lo-brow. The film’s outlandish plot-lines uselessly intersect into a tragic story of unrequited high school love.
The film fittingly features legendary video-artist and filmmaker George Kuchar, and an original soundtrack with Tucker and Taeer recording as Bloodrape as well as Felt Drawings. The film’s complete with nipple pizza, blood cocaine, clay genitals, hardcore grrrls and an undying love for irrelevant VHS camcorders. You can order the limited combo pack (includes DVD, soundtrack, and a behind-the-scenes color zine) by inquiring to nextwavevideo[at]gmail.com
Watch the film in its entirety:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HEkj_tZ-eXg
I met Tucker last summer during the PIG DEATH MACHINE shoot with Jon Moritsugu. At the time he had already begun BLOODRAPE and concerned about whether or not he’d be able to finish it. With expenses running high and the increasingly exclusive world of independent cinema forcing D-I-Y cinema further underground, Tucker manages to succeed and garner attention as a true independent digital filmmaker. I asked him a few questions on BLOODRAPE, his practice, and the future:
I don’t see many young filmmakers take on feature-length projects. You’ve done it twice now, including a large number of shorts in-between. You’ve worked around excuses like money, time, crew, etc. Is this dedication a part of the “next wave” mindset?
hmm i think the make-beleive company me and zach made up was more of a YRUW? thing. BLOODRAPE was a collabortaion with Zach(shipko) and also my dear friend Taeer Maymon. We all do different sort of art things with me being the “film” guy, but we all have senses of humor that work really well together and the ideas in BLOODRAPE are deffenetly the fucked up orgy babies of our weird brains. but yeah i think we all share this sort of burning urge to make dumb things exist so i guess thats what you could call our “relentless dedication”, no one else is going to make your dreams real but YOU! So yeah im just down to make it happen, doin this stuff is how I like to spend my time so you just gotta surround yourself with people who are also down for cause.
“Digital filmmaking makes everything easier.” True or…? I heard (from Jon) you were shooting scenes with 5 HD cameras…
Yeah of course its easier and cheaper, i can shoot feature films on crappy video cameras and edit them at home on my little computer. I don’t have to worry about fucking up light readings or sending footage away to get processed or ruining a negative or anything. I love video, but not when its supposed to emulate the quality of film. I like it when it has its own janky look. We did not have 5 HD cameras..We had 2 consumer HD camcorders, like daddy filming newborn baby sort of handy-cam things. I love the quality, its sort of “lo-fi” HD which i think is pretty funny. But we also filmed lots of stuff on Hi-8 and Mini DV and theres also a few seconds of 16mm in there so we did have alot of different cameras shootin alot of different stuff.
High & low points?
High points were everytime we were actually able to work on it! It was so much fun filming this thing, I was constantly yelling and laughing out loud and having the best time. The low points were basically whenever BLOODRAPE wasnt happening. scheduling is the worst thing in the world, there were so many delays due to various bullshit and there was a lot of really brutal downtime, at least for me. I basically had knots in my stomach for over a year because I was so worried about it’s uncertain future. Seriously, some of the worst months of my life were happening when BLOODRAPE wasn’t shooting. I sound pretty pathetic but yeah 20 was a rough year for me haha.
You won’t be in art school forever, what’s next?
i gave up on ever being financially stable a long time ago so my plan is to keep rockin out and making my movies until ive ruined my life so bad that my only option is to kill myself. true story.
BLOODRAPE adds to a pretty lengthy cult history of fictional all-girl bands in underground cinema. Do you plan to continue Bloodrape in other reincarnations? We’re all hoping for a soundtrack, or at least a couple of hit singles, by the way…
Dont worry the soundtrack is gonna be released along with the movie! Were gonna have like a DVD-OST-ZINE set that will kick ass. But the band was made up for the movie with the baddest bitches we knew playing the vampXcore goddessess and their music was made by me, my friends Ben and Ray (who plays Cordizar, the BR manager, in the film) and Taeer screams on the tracks. She had never really done singing let alone the sort of thrashy screaming she did for the BR trax, but she went all out and was supper good at it. For future screenings we wanna play live like during the credits or something. did that even answer the question? Hopefully the image of BLOODRAPE the band will be continued in a handfull of SEQUELS. for serious I really wanna do a big(ish) budget like EVIL DEAD 2 remake/sequel. WHOS INTERESTED?
How long were you in-production? How much did it cost and how did you pay for it?
BLOODRAPE was 16 months of on and off doodling. we wrote the script in Jan 2010 and started shooting in Feb but because we were trying to do something with nothing and had a central cast of 7 people, all with conflicting schedules and blah blah we would shoot like every other saturday or something retarted. sometimes we could shoot twice in one week with everyone, but then sometimes weeks would go by and we would just be filming little things with a few people, then I went to do PDM( one of the best times of my life btw) and then went on tour with my band for a month so it was a crazy, everyone involved had a bunch of other stuff going on so it was like a whenever everyone had freetime we would get together and have a total blast. We shot the very last stuff for it in Nov 2010 and spent till may 2011 editing our ridiculous amount of footage. It feels incredible to have something that exists from all this. There was never any budget but me, Zach and Taeer would buy things we really needed like fangs and stuff to use for gore etc whenever we absolutely had to. I guess money got spent on lots of beer and weed and a taxi ride or 2 and 1 pizza and then one time i fucked up the harddrive with the footy so buying a new one cost something.. no idea what the exact total cost of everything is but something like 300-500 dollars between the 3 of us over those 16 months..
I rarely saw you without a video camera in your hands. In fact our first encounter was you filming me at the airport. Is this your common behavior or do you only take video of special occasions?
I guess using a video camera to document things happening around me is mostly a special occasion sorta thing.I like filming video rather than taking still photos so whenever im doing something i feel like i will want to remember and show people later i bring my camera along and make goofy lil videos out of my adventure. during my “real” life, i mostly use my video camera to make fictional films.
Your first film WHY ARE YOU WEIRD? caught the attention of Jon Moritsugu and George Kuchar is a reoccurring star in your work. Who else do you want to grab attention from?
EVERYONE! HoLlYwO0d CaLiFoRnIa! I met William Lustig at a movie screening and told him about BLOODRAPE and he seemed stoked and gave me his card so I deff wanna send him a copy and I would love to see what Nick Zedd or Richard Kern thought about it since they are big influences. Tim Ritter might get a kick out of it, deff wanna send one to him. I wish Jean Rollin was still alive.. I wanna just harass everyone I respect with DVDs and see if anyone actually watches it (like what happened with Jon and Amy Davis)
You work at a small independent video store still, right? I feel like an appreciative community can form around these places, much like independent record shops. Does working at this place inform you in some way?
Yeah its a great place for me, mostly as a resource since I have access to a gazillion weird movies. First and foremost I’m a movie consuming monster and I’ve learned about so much cool stuff either from finding it there or my boss turning me on to things or the costumers I’ve made friends with turning me on to things. I even met Clare, who plays one of the leads in BLOODRAPE, because she started working there and was really cool and cute and I was like “You should totally be in my movie!” I put a DVD of YRUW? in the Cult section and some people have rented it and been really into it and bought DVDS and I plan on doing the same with BLOODRAPE so I guess the store helps me get my stuff out there too. But yeah mostly I sit at work and fantasize about making movies. I seriously can’t say enough good stuff about FILM YARD VIDEO. Luv that place 2 death.
BLOODRAPE synopsis on the back of the DVD: “In 2013, a year after the apocalypse, Code V has granted Vampires human rights allowing them to walk among living. This earth shattering film follows the notorious 90s all girl vampire-hardcore-thrash-punk band/gang on their Nor Cal reunion tour of brutal destruction. BLOODRAPE is a heart-wrenching tale of misplaced feelings, desire,undying love and an unforgettable lesson in both human emotion and raw animalistic instinct.”