Monday, 27 February 2006 10:50
As a big part of the creative unit behind the locally produced comedic film Hooch & Daddy-O, Oscar Madrid and Jim Ousley have gained a real influx of credibility in St. Louis’ indie film circle. But fans of local theater have long known the pair from their work as part of the regular ensemble of the Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre, the offshoot of the St. Louis Shakespeare responsible for bringing live theatrical versions of It’s a Wonderful Life, Planet of the Apes, and Speed Racer to stage.
For the short term, the two are focusing their energies away from the boards and toward the screen, as they are currently writing a follow-up to Hooch & Daddy-O, even as that work enjoys renewed life on the film fest circuit. Ideally their next low-budget effort, The Bloodfest Club, will begin filming this summer. The homage to 1980s genres (teen comedy, zombie, and alien flicks) will again involve many of the actors and crew members that brought Hooch to life a few years back; though Madrid will take over directing chores, both will contribute to the in-progress script.
This month, the pair look to add to the coffers of their Crunchy Cool Films, with a benefit show at the Pageant on March 25. The modest $5 cover brings you the 12 oz. Prophets, the Dean Evans Band, My 2 Planets, and the Maxtone 4, along with DJ Leon Lamont. We caught up on their efforts with a Saturday afternoon sit-down at Meshuggah Coffee in University City. I had so much fun, I talked and talked and talked…until I exceeded my meter time and received a $10 parking ticket. Hi-o!
Crunchy Cool Films. What’s the genesis of this?
JO: Well, we needed some kind of name to put in front of the movies.
OM: It came from a bit of animation for the Japanese Hooch & Daddy-O fanclub issue. They had this little bunny in the corner and it said, “Hooch & Daddy-O is crunchy cool.” So we have to have other people write our stuff, because we can’t think of everything.
Is it interesting to see this film, wrapped for a while now, enjoy renewed life at film fests? That’s the indie film’s best hope, right?
JO: It’s fantastic. You think when you go to a festival that you’re tired of it, that “I don’t want to see this movie again; I’ve seen it for two years now.” But you see it in a different city in front of a bunch of strangers and they’re enjoying it and this is fun. You’re seeing your friends on the screen and people are responding to it. It’s great.
OM: You’re right. You go in with this feeling of dread and then they’re laughing and they don’t know you; you’re a complete stranger. It is rewarding.
JO: We didn’t expect it. This is a movie we did on weekends. And to have it in five festivals now is crazy. We’re excited every time now, really.
We shouldn’t just focus on the recurring success of Hooch. Next up will be…
OM: The Bloodfest Club. We’re still writing, coming up with a new draft right now. It’s about a bunch of school kids that take on a group of aliens that invade the school. It’s inspired by The Lost Boys, John Hughes films, Donnie Darko, Evil Dead II. We’re working through that now and we’re hoping with the fundraiser at the Pageant that we can get distribution for Hooch & Daddy-O and get production going on this, this year.
JO: We’re waiting until the summer when schools are closed, so that we can get some nice locations through that.
Do you have to write with budget in mind?
OM: You do, and that’s the struggle we’re having. You want to be as imaginative as possible, but you also have to realize you aren’t going to have 500 aliens coming out of a spaceship into the school. We definitely did that with Hooch & Daddy-O; we wrote with locations and actors in mind. So this time we’re more open to things we think we can do, now that we’ve gone to film school. Which is what we did. We realized some things can be done cheaper, through software and other people we know.
JO: We’ve got a nice production team right now. If you write with budget in mind, knowing that you don’t have a $2 million feature, you work within those constraints. You’ve got to be creative with that.
What was it that clicked for you guys and made it easy to work together?
JO: Well, I used to have to give him rides to rehearsal. Along the way, we realized we have the same sense of humor. We find the same things odd and funny.
OM: And he can edit me really well. We definitely have the same sense of humor. We got together with [director] Donna Northcott and [actor] Rory Flynn when we wanted to do Hooch & Daddy-O and Jim and I just went for it, when we had been discussing the idea of the movie. Jim and I had never written a script before, but we gave it a shot. We had skits and instead of rehearsing at Monkey shows, we’d be discussing this.
Are you working with the Monkey still?
OM: I’ve been working so much on scripts that I’ve become spoiled and that’s what I want to do. But him, it’s in his soul. He can’t get rid of the acting.
JO: Oh, I feel the same way. We’re wanting to do this project.
OM: And we prefer to call it PRO-ject, so can you capitalize P-R-O?
JO: I’ve been doing that show for 10 years and people might be sick of me by now.
OM: That would be me.
OM: For sure.
OM: Oh, I’ve got him beat.
JO: That’s true.
And what do you top him in?
JO: Breeding. I have a little boy.
OM: Also he has musical talent; I have none. Jimmy O will be doing music for Bloodfest, as he did for Hooch & Daddy-O. What else do you top me in? You don’t have anything wrong with your balls.
JO: My balls are clean and shaven. Sorry, everybody. And I’m sorry to you, Tom.
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