JIM VANBEBBER’S MONSTER GATOR!
JIM VANBEBBER’S MONSTER GATOR!
VanBebber hits the crowdfunding platform to make his new film GATOR GREEN
If like me, you feel you’ve been waiting forever since VanBebber’s amazing, 16-years-in-the-making Manson Family epic hit screens nationwide in 2003, you’ll be happy to know that the prickly powerhouse is proactively seeking funds through Kickstarter to get a follow-up film off the ground. And he’s turning to you – his audience – to help make it happen. Yes YOU can be an Associate Producer on a new Jim VanBebber Film!
Contribute via the Kickstarter Page HERE
Can you tell me about the new film, Gator Green and the kickstarter project?
It’s a Florida-based horror film about a veteran who takes ownership of an alligator farm after returning from WWII. Character-driven, for sure, but also filled with gory action and historical insight. The Kickstarter project would fund the making of a short film to help gain investors for the feature film.
What kind of budget are you looking at for the feature?
The budget for the feature is just under one million. Both the promotional short and the feature film will be shot on 16mm film by my usual cinematographer, Michael King.
What is an Alligator Farm for, and how is the post WWII setting important to this context? Meaning, are they still legal in the US today?
The alligator farms were a creation of native Seminole Indians in Florida from the start of the 20th century for a way for them to make a living. They exist today, though not in such a primitive fashion (and co-opted by The White Man, which I take pains to represent).
Why did you choose to make the main character a war vet?
I made him a War veteran because I’ve thought that veterans get a raw deal when they return and Best Years Of Our Lives is the only good film to address that era. It’s freaking Billy Jack with alligators, okay? Well…kind of…with a big helping bucket of VanBebber!
Ha ha – OK!. [See Jim’s reflections on the great cult film Billy Jack elsewhere in this issue of Spectacular Optical]
Who will be creating the creature FX?
As of now, Tampa-based Marcus Koch will be in charge of the FX work.
Did working with Marcus Koch somehow come through a David Gregory/Buddy G connection? I noticed he did FX on The Theatre Bizarre and again for Buddy’s new film, Ginger. Will he be making animatronic alligators for the film?
I turned Gregory and Giovinazzo onto his skills first, they can thank me. He will be making animatronic gators, yes!
There is also a documentary being made about you, by Victor Bonacore. How did you guys meet?
Victor Bonacore became interested in releasing the many 8mm films that I made growing up and contacted me. We made an agreement and then he decided to make a documentary to compliment the DVD release. I agreed and we have been friends since.
I heard he had bought rights to twenty five 8mm short films you made as a kid, pre-1988.
I am not sure if there are 25 titles, but that is close. It is like four and a half hours of Lil’ Jimmy VanBebber running about, for sure.
How long has Victor been filming you and what kind of access do you allow him? Do you have any reservations about someone else directing and editing a representation of you?
Victor Bonacore has been working on it since 2009 and he has had unlimited access. As an independent filmmaker himself, I assumed Bonacore would understand the various trials and tribulations. That said, I must admit that I find it a bit unnerving seeing various people talk about me. For the most part, I keep my opinions of others private.
You’re now living in Florida, where Gator Green is being shot, correct? What made you leave LA? (Actually what made you even move to LA in the first place??!!)
I moved to Los Angeles to finish post-production on Charlie’s Family, per the contractual agreement with a certain Spanish filmmaker. He breached the contract and I stayed in Los Angeles, fortunately meeting up with Carl Daft and David Gregory, who partnered with me and Mike King and finished what became The Manson Family in the style I was looking for (i.e. 35mm blow-up, 5.1 surround-sound, etc.). After that was finished, I spent a lot of time writing scripts for various people that never got produced. I came to Florida to look after my 84-year-old mother, who had just undergone two major surgeries and had no one to help her. My brother and sister have families, so I was elected. I relocated close to her and now help her out, while I launch Gator Green.
It’s been over five years since The Manson Family, which was almost unanimously hailed as a masterpiece even from people who have no love for the genre. Aside from your music-related projects, why have we waited so long for another VanBebber film?
It’s not for lack of trying. Many times, I thought I was close to making one of my scripts with various people, but they never followed through. Capone: King Of Crime came the closest and it was a real heartbreak to see that company jack me around and then put their money elsewhere.
Many people are aware of the Jim VanBebber/Dr. Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde syndrome that has resulted in many personal and professional conflicts over the years. Do you have any regrets, or do you feel it’s all part of the same intensity that drives your creativity?
Well…uh, people say a lot of shit, you know? These are usually the same folks who breech contracts, engage in shoddy business practices and then…when I privately raise Hell with them, they go public on me and claim that I am in the wrong. I try to take a Jerry Garcia attitude about it and just soldier onward through the Fog.