The following is a list of the most frequently asked questions about ThanksKilling.
Q: How long did it take to film ThanksKilling?
Q: How did you come up with the tagline “Gobble, Gobble, Motherfucker!”?
Q: Where was ThanksKilling filmed?
Q: Will there be a sequel to ThanksKilling?
Q: Was ThanksKilling at all inspired by Eli Roth’s faux Grindhouse trailer, “Thanksgiving”?
Q: What advice would you have for aspiring or no-budget filmmakers?
Q: Who did the voice for the Turkey?
Q: What was the budget of ThanksKilling?
Q: Kevin, what was it like being a quadruple threat serving as writer, producer, cinematographer, and editor?
Q: Who would win in a battle between The Killer Turkey and Chucky?
Q: What are some essential things that young filmmakers need to know before making an independent film?
Q: Where did you find the cast for ThanksKilling?
Q: I noticed there are five writers listed for ThanksKilling…how did that work?
Q: Where did you find the crew for ThanksKilling?
Q: I want to make my own low-budget feature, but I don’t have the money to do it. Any suggestions?
Q: What camera was ThanksKilling shot on?
Q: Who did the animation pilgrim sequence featured in ThanksKilling?
Q: Why was ThanksKilling not released theatrically, or in major video chains like Blockbuster or Hollywood Video?
Q: Who did the theme song for ThanksKilling?
Q: Were you guys on drugs when coming up with this movie?
Q: Are there any movie props from ThanksKilling available for sale?
A: We shot most of it in 11 days. We eventually returned to Ohio to shoot 2 more days of pick up shots and re-shoots. The opening scene with the pilgrim was filmed in Los Angeles in 1 day. In total, it took 14 Days to shoot all of ThanksKilling.
A: I think we joked about the tagline minutes after coming up the initial idea for the movie. It’s not that deep!
A: ThanksKilling was shot in Licking County, Ohio where many of the cast and crew members were from.
A: We hope so. A title card in the end credits reads “To be continued in space…” because of our desire to take a potential sequel straight to space, rather than wait until later in the series ala Leprechaun 4, Critters 4, Jason X, etc. It would be fun to make ThanksKilling an independently distributed franchise and give young filmmakers the chance to write, direct, and produce sequels (all low-budget or course). We could do as many as 10 or more this way.
A: We actually came up with the idea and were working on the script for ThanksKilling long before we ever heard word of Eli Roth’s “Thanksgiving” trailer. We always thought that Thanksgiving was fairly untapped when it came to the horror genre, and we were not alone. By the time Grindhouse came out and we ever saw the “Thanksgiving” trailer, ThanksKilling was already shot and far into editing.
A: What everyone else says…just go out and make a movie. Sometimes making a film so low budget that you’re not necessarily proud of, will teach you more than doing something you absolutely love.
A: Jordan Downey ended up voicing the turkey, however that was never intended. While on set, Jordan would do a mock turkey voice while puppeteering along side the actors. In the end, the voice stuck and it was too hard to imagine another voice for the Turkey. Also, a significant portion of Jordan’s turkey voice ran over the actor’s dialogue, so re-recording another voice for the turkey would have meant re-recording actor’s dialogue as well.
A: The production budget (money spent actually shooting the film) was around $3,500. Now, this does not include certain elements that we did not have to pay for, as we already owned, such as latex and paint for building the turkey. Most of the production budget went into covering costs on purchasing HDV tapes, costumes, props, light & camera rigs, food and meals, and misc expenses such as making copies of the script, gas, and whatever else came up. Another $500-700 went into re-shoots, which includes airfare from LA to Ohio. The rest of the money, which ended up being around $6000 went into post-production (hard drive purchases, etc.) and mainly distribution to cover DVD duplication, the website, flyers, postcards, business cards, etc. In total, ThanksKilling cost just about $10,000 USD. That includes everything – Production, Post, Marketing, and Distribution.
A: I have always loved being a part of creating a story and with as crazy a film as ThanksKilling was, coming up with the humor was a blast. On set, I was mainly focused on shooting, however before and after each day my mind was producing- trying to figure out how in the hell we’re going to make the next day. Shooting and editing is something I enjoy doing because on set, a DP needs to have an idea of how what he or she is shooting is going to cut down the road. Plus, let’s face it, we didn’t have the money to pay an editor and it was easier to edit out of home myself. To me, editing is a lot of fun.
A: Hopefully they would just team up and kick some major ass. A fowl-mouthed bird from hell and a serial killer living through a piece of plastic!? Hell yes!
A: Here are some important things to keep in mind when shooting your own film:
1. Take a lot of still pictures on set. You can never get enough, and a lot of distributors require stills of cast interaction with director, cast group photos, cast headshots or action poses, etc.
2. Think of your trailer and poster before shooting! Get in the mind of a producer and think, “how is the film I’m about to make going to be marketed”? Once you get an idea of this, you can take staged pictures on set for your poster. Think simple, powerful, iconic images. Also, many teaser trailers contain footage nowhere to be found in the final film, so maybe you can shoot something off to the side to give fans the first glimpse of your movie? Remember, you’re film needs to stand out from the crowd, so do something bold.
3. Be prepared to make major sacrifices. Understand what shots and scenes are absolutely necessary to the telling of your story or your particular style. You may not have the time or money to shoot much other than the bare essentials.
4. And finally, finish your film! There are thousands of indie films out there in all kinds of genres; many of them never even wrap production for various reasons. The only way to see any sort of success out of your film is to see it through to the end, no matter how tired you get of it. When you’re making a film, you start with all the odds against you. Finishing it is a success.
A: Each cast member comes with his or her own story as to how they ended up in the film. Ryan Francis who plays Darren, and Aaron Carlson who plays Billy were friends of director Jordan Downey’s in high school. Natasha Cordova who plays Ali and Lance Predmore who plays Johnny were cast through auditions that we held after making posts on Craigslist. We were put in contact with Chuck Lamb who plays Sheriff Roud through Lance Predmore, who had done another movie with Chuck. General Bastard came as a contact of Ryan Francis. The remainder of the cast was either friends, family, or last-minute casting notices posted online. Many of the parts were cast only days prior to shooting their scenes.
A: The writing process was as follows. Kevin Stewart and Jordan Downey came up with the characters, story, bits and pieces of scenes, and dialogue. Kevin then wrote the first draft of the script in a few weeks. Jordan read that and re-wrote and changed a few things here and there, but for the most part the first draft remained intact. After that, close friends of Kevin and Jordan, Brad Schulz, Tony Wilson, and Grant Yaffee, each with their own unique sense of humor, contributed dialogue and scene changes. Some great jokes came from those guys! If you download the ThanksKilling Script w/ Notes PDF (Click HERE) you can see a lot of jokes that didn’t make it into the film for many reasons. The final film really is a blend of five different writers’ senses of humor.
A: Mostly through Craigslist. See our Pre-Production section for more info on this.
A: Well, this depends on your budget. If you think you can shoot the film for under $5,000, then get a second job. It might take a year to save up, but it’s not that far out of reach. Sure, you can also get family and friends to kick in as well. We would never recommend putting costs on credit cards, as you should be careful about this considering filmmaking is an extremely risky investment. You don’t want to be slammed down the road with a bill you can’t pay and a film that is unfinished.
If you’re a little savvier you could set up an LLC for your film or production company to raise private equity, which essentially could come from friends, family, and acquaintances. This is a whole other ball game that you need an experienced producer or financer for. Just remember, if you’re making an ultra low-budget film, keep your costs as low as possible, so the probability of recouping what was spent on the film is higher.
A: The Canon XH-A1 HDV Camera.
A: A good friend, Tony Wilson (who also contributed to the ThanksKilling script) did all the work on the animation sequence for ThanksKilling. Check out his website for more of his twisted humor: www.amazingsuperpowers.com
A: We never ever dreamed in a million years that ThanksKilling would go theatrical (aside from festival screenings and maybe some local premieres). Getting a film released theatrically in thousands of theaters requires a major distribution deal, usually secured way before production. But of course, there are plenty of indie films that secured a distributor to release the film theatrically after they were shot, edited, and screened. But come on…it’s ThanksKilling we’re talking about here! As for major rental chains such as Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, you also need a distribution deal with a company that has a good relationship with either of those chains. There are insurance issues involved, along with the obvious issue of making mass quantities of your film and mailing them out, so indie films cannot simply go to video chains without a distributor. ThanksKilling was submitted to many possible distributors and was very close to finding distribution from a few different companies. In the end, we decided our best option was to release ourselves. ThanksKilling will be for sale in select Best Buys and on Amazon and iTunes…November 17, 2009.
A: Hip-Hop artist Kajmir Royale, based in Denver, created the ThanksKilling theme song, as well as much of the original score.
A: Actually, no.
A: Currently, there are no props available for sale. Although, many of the props used in the movie are still intact (See our Movie Props section). Only the original Killer Turkey puppet head survived shooting, as the puppet body, and stunt heads were burned in the final scene of the film.