Have you ever heard a movie director/producer say most people should not go to see his movie? You’re about to, and that’s not the only thing that makes THE THETA GIRL different from most things you’ll see at the multiplex. The film’s Columbia premiere is set for Friday, Nov. 3, with an encore showing Saturday, Nov. 4 at the Spotlight Cinemas, 527 St. Andrews Rd. In the words of its creators, “THE THETA GIRL was produced for the price of a used car by rank amateurs here in Columbia, SC. It has been called ‘edgy, thoughtful, quality entertainment’ by Film Threat.
Due to the extreme and graphic nature of the film, no one under 17 will be admitted.” Christopher Bickel, the film’s director and producer, took time to answer our questions about the project.
Midlands Anchor: How long have you been working on this film?
Christopher Bickel: The actual production of the film to its release was almost exactly one year. It was a germ of an idea nearly one year before that.
MA: What sparked the idea for it?
CB: Making a film was a life-long unfulfilled dream for me. Something I always thought I’d eventually get around to. I studied film at USC, but their program was frankly not very good. My education didn’t prepare me for much outside of getting coffee for movie execs. I opened a record store right out of college instead of going into film. I had been talking to my friend David Axe about his frustrations with selling his screenplays in Hollywood. Over drinks we decided that David could write an ultra low budget film script and I could direct it. I had, around that time, also been inspired by the work of local filmmaker Tommy Faircloth who made his film Dollface for less than $10,000 in South Carolina.
MA: How did you and David Axe begin working together?
CB: We brainstormed elements of low-budget exploitation films that could be done as cheaply as possible but that would have maximum viewer impact. Then David came up with this really crazy drugged-out story and we decided to form our own production company to make it.
MA: How involved are other Columbia-area people in the film? I know you shot at least some of it here. Has the community been supportive?
CB: Almost everyone who worked on the film is from Columbia. The community has been very supportive. Some local businesses like Art Bar and drip Coffee pitched in to help us out a lot. Tons of people showed up to be extras.
MA: What was the hardest part of making the film?
CB: Organizing shooting days and getting people to show up and be on time.
MA: Why should people go see this film?
CB: Most people SHOULDN’T see this film. Some of it is pretty intense. If you are a fan of very violent films and don’t mind nudity, then you will probably love THE THETA GIRL.
MA: I understand there are some pretty graphic scenes. Was including that a conscious decision or just the way things evolved?
CB: Very intentional decision. We knew what graphic elements it would have before the story was even written. When you are making a movie for $14,000, with no name stars, you have to shock and titillate your audience in order to hold their attention, distract them from the low production values, and hopefully get some word-of-mouth out of the end result.
MA: Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
CB: The main reason we did this movie was to learn how to make a movie and to prove you could make an entertaining feature at a bargain-basement price. I hope this will inspire other filmmakers in Columbia to do the same.
MA: What’s next for you?
CB: Another, more insane movie.