Big-time filmmaking on a budget

Production team makes its $1,400 budget count 

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Brianna Brown, John Wynn and Kurt David Anderson talk about their comedy “Screwed: The Movie” prior to its Oct. 19 premiere at the Twin Cities Film Fest. The movie is available on digital platforms including iTunes now and will make its way to DVD and Netflix in the coming months. (Submitted photos)

When Kurt David Anderson and John Wynn set out to shoot “Screwed: The Movie,” it looked like they’d have an $8 million budget. By the time the film premiered Oct. 19 at the Twin Cities Film Fest, the production budget was $1,400 – less than the value of the computer it was edited on.

Through their production company – Punching Bees Productions – the duo purchased the rights to the script, had investors lined  up and interest on the studio level, Anderson said.

Then, as is often the case, the deal fell apart.

“We still wanted to do the project,” Anderson, a Cottage Grove native, said. “We could’ve shot a trailer for it and gone back to the investors, but we still needed people and locations to do that.”

The duo decided to call in some favors from their industry friends and shoot a rough copy of the film with their shoestring budget. The hope was to take that rough cut back to the investors and show them what they had in mind for the film.

The reaction they got with that rough cut was surprising.

“They asked why we’d want to spend more money on it,” Anderson said, noting that several investors assumed they’d spent several hundred thousand dollars on the cut. “The consensus was to not reshoot and go back and tighten up the editing, sound and effects.”

The challenge, he said, was wanting to tell the story of how the film was produced, but not wanting to affect offers from investors or getting pigeonholed as the guys who can make features films with little to no budget.

In the end the duo decided the story was worth telling … once the deals were in place.

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Cottage Grove native Kurt David Anderson and co-star Julie McNiven in a scene from “Screwed: The Movie.” (Submitted photo)

“Screwed: The Movie” tells the story of Will (Anderson) a man who must follow the guidance of a magical video casette to become a better lover in order to win back the affections of Jen (Twin Cities native and “General Hospital” and “Homeland” actress Brianna Brown). Along the way he finds a host of women who help him improve himself and he finds what he was looking for all along.

The film co-stars Julie McNiven (“Mad Men,” “Supernatural”), with Wynn serving as director, sound editor, cinematographer and in a number of other capacities.

“I would put John next to anyone’s entire company for post-production work,” Anderson said of his Punching Bees cohort. “Not an individual, a company where there’s five people working on each area … the only thing he’d lack is the time.”

With their low-budget project in the home stretch, Anderson and Wynn are now focused on finishing up their latest project, the short film “Escape.”

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The Punching Bees Productions team – John Wynn and Kurt David Anderson. (Submitted photo)

Anderson said “Escape” will be used as a showcase to studios to show what the company has done and is capable of. He struck a deal with Panavision, which ensures the duo had the equipment they needed. The film is now in the post-production phase and Anderson is hopeful to have a screening before the end of the year.

“Screwed: The Movie” has been picked up for distribution by Screen Media Ventures. It will be available on many digital platforms, including iTunes and Video on Demand, beginning Nov. 5. The DVD is available as a pre-sale on Amazon through Dec. 10. Anderson added that the film will likely be available on Netflix by the end of January.

For more information on the film go to punchingbees.com.

Contact Jared Huizenga at [email protected]