„Bounty Killer“: Regisseur Henry Saine über die Comic-Vorlage, die Dreharbeiten und eine mögliche Fortsetzung

INTERVIEW | Wer hätt gedacht, dass es Bounty Killer schon lange vor dem Film gegeben hat? Als Cartoon, Kurzfilm und Comic. Im Interview mit Regisseur Henry Saine spricht der aber net nur über die Entstehung der Leinwand-Adaption, sondern auch über a mögliche Rückkehr von Mary Death!

bounty killer henry saine

Ich fahr total auf Bounty Killer ab. Das dürften alle wissen, die mein Interview mit Hauptdarstellerin Christian Pitre-Davis gelesen haben. Währends ganz besonders Spaß gmacht hat, a bissl mit Mary Death zu plaudern, war das Gespräch mit Regisseur Henry Saine richtig, richtig aufschlussreich. Ich mein, wer hätt schon gedacht, dass der Film a jahrelange Vorgschicht hat? Vom Cartoon über den Kurzfilm bis hin zum improvisierten Comic, den man letzten Endes auch als Langfilm inszenierte. Zum Glück!

Der sympathische und echt lässige Mann hinter Bounty Killer stand mir Rede und Antwort und hat mir so einige Fragen beantwortet, die mich zum Teil schon länger beschäftigt haben. Welche Filme hatte er bei der Umsetzung von Bounty Killer als Vorbild? Wie waren die Dreharbeiten? Und gibts eigentlich Unterschiede zwischen der Originalvorlage und dem Film? Die Antworten (und viel, viel mehr) gibts hier:



Where did the idea of making Bounty Killer come from?

The short version is Jason Dodson (writer of „Bounty Killer“) and I were having a few beers, talking about corporate criminals, The Enron scandal, Bernie Madoff, the subprime mortgage fiasco that imploded, etc., and he said, “These guys could actually destroy the world. Wouldn’t it be crazy if instead of sending them to some posh prison, we actually had to hunt them down to avenge the death of our world?”

From cartoon to feature film: Tell us about your Bounty Killer journey!

Crazy enough this started as a cartoon. Jason was writing a script and I started storyboarding ideas to help it along and realized people could understand this better if I animated those storyboards. We took it further and got all our actor friends to do the voices and just made a cartoon. We were showing it around when Kickstart, a company involved with animation, wanted to make it a cartoon series. We pitched it around to different networks who all passed because it was either too violent or they couldn’t figure out how to get corporate sponsors when we’re killing those same sponsors in the cartoon.

I then brought up the idea to Kickstart of doing a live action version. They instantly were on board and offered to help fund a short film if I were to make it into a comic book as well. So I went off to make a short while Jason started writing the comic book. The strange problem was the comic book had to be PG-13. We were green lit by a company called Arc Entertainment essentially the day after the short was finished, and then off to the races making a hard R movie, based on a PG-13 story for the comic book that I still hadn’t drawn a single image for.

We were deep in post-production when both Arc and Kickstart said they needed the comic book to help sell the movie at an upcoming international event in Toronto. With everything going on, I now had 2 days to draw, ink and color a 96 page graphic novel! So if you ever see the comic book, you’ll see the drawings start getting worse and worse by the end. My hands were shaking so badly, Mary Death’s straight hair gradually became a curly mess.

So actually, “Bounty Killer” is based on a comic book, based on a short, based on a cartoon.

How did you find your main cast? Were the actors casted for their roles or did you write the parts for them in the first place?

Christian and Barak were in the short film. I knew Barak from my first movie, “The Last Lovecraft” and always wanted to work with him again. Christian came in to audition. It was her first audition in Los Angeles, ever, and she came in dressed like a dark, dangerous Lara Croft. She brought a real knife to the reading and just flat out said, “I am Mary Death.” Who were we to argue?

Our distributors loved Matthew Marsden from his previous movies (“Blackhawk Down”, “Rambo”, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”) and asked us to meet with him. The character Drifter is initially from Texas, but I liked Marsden’s take and being from Texas myself, I didn’t want him to fake an accent – even though he nailed it. I really liked who he was naturally, so I called Jason and Colin and said, “Hey, what if Drifter is from England?”

They brought us the idea of Kristanna Loken having had a great experience with her on a TV show, “Painkiller Jane”. We had the same great experience and even beforehand, knew she would bring a fierceness to Catherine that would compete well with Christian.

I’m actually not even sure how Gary Busey came up, but when he did, it was a no brainer for me to just say, “Hell yes, let’s just see what happens”. Everything you’ve heard is true – times ten.

Abraham Benrubi was a last minute change. The original actor had to back out but was friends with Benrubi and knew he would love the movie. He came to my house, talked about our favorite comic books, drove around in (the character) Jimbo’s car and within an hour, we were both sold on each other, which was great, because we started filming the very next day!

The rest we had in mind from the get-go. I had actually drawn Kevin McNally in both the cartoon and the comic. Having him on set and seeing the drawings come to life was pretty wild. Eve and Beverly D’Angelo were the same kind of situation. Eve was our number one choice and not only did she say yes, she was the very first person to sign on to the movie. We always loved Beverly and were thrilled and blown away when she came on board. She and Christian became fast friends. Somehow I need to make an entire movie around those two.

How do you lead the actors in your films? Are you open for improvised dialogues or do you prefer working accurately according to the script?

I lead by allowing everyone to feel comfortable and safe to let it all go on our set. By showing everyone, actors, crew, etc. that we’re all equal here, there’s no hierarchy. I take everyone through my process and what I’m looking for in each instance, camera, lighting, effects, story — everything, so we can all work together to tell the same story. We usually talk through who their character is now and who they were before they got to this moment. From there, I don’t really mind if they veer off the script as long as they get the story beats needed. They usually bring a little something extra and make the script come alive with the improvisation. That’s especially true with the comedy.

How much were the production costs?

The initial shoot for the feature was 18 days around Los Angeles on a budget of a little less than $1million. Post was about a year (not all days consecutively). With such a small budget, we had to take help when we could get it.

Have you ever thought about shooting a sequel? Are there any ideas in your head of continuing the story of Mary Death and Drifter?

Since we developed a TV show, we do have a whole arsenal of stories to tell both before and after the events in “Bounty Killer”.

Have you adopted particular situations, events or experiences of your life in the film?

Again the real news going on around us at that time, the banking crisis with the subprime mortgages, Madoff, Fannie Mae, golden parachutes, etc., all informed the backdrop for the end of the world and the Yellow Ties in “Bounty Killer”. We were all affected by those events, so yes, those particular situations were going on in my life and made it into the feature. I can’t say I adopted anything more from my real life, other than maybe inadvertently my friendships that probably came out through Drifter and Jack and Mary Death. Same goes just for the feeling of graphic novels, something I’ve been immersed in my whole life and I’m sure spilled over into the movie. Otherwise, I don’t shoot guns, don’t ride motorcycles through the Wasteland, and at the moment don’t have any women trying to kill me. Well, not that I want to talk about with my wife reading this! I was mostly adapting Jason’s imagination.

What’s the deal with the color yellow? Hinting at the yellow-ties and Catherine’s heels, you don’t seem to like yellow at all.

No, I actually love the color yellow! There are several reasons they have yellow ties. One, I’m lazy. I didn’t feel like coloring the cartoon so I made everything black and white, but realized I should sneak in some color. Red would be blood and I figured yellow would really pop on the business men’s ties. The second reason is that here, a yellow tie is a symbol for power and confidence in business. But on the other end of the spectrum, to call someone “yellow” means they’re scared and weak and I liked that dichotomy.

Bounty Killer gets compared to many films like The Road Warrior or Tarantino movies. But are there any movies which actually inspired you for Bounty Killer?

Obviously “The Road Warrior” was a huge influence on me, but as we started rolling, I realized with our lack of money and time — and that I’m not George Miller — it might be better to veer on the side of funny and embrace the low budget instead of trying to hide it. So we looked at movies like Roger Corman’s “Death Race 2000” and “Ice Pirates” which I loved a lot growing up.

Tell us about one special moment during filming you will never forget!

Honestly, every day was funny, emotional and definitely had everything going wrong. Not enough time or money, 120 degree days, producers literally getting carried off by brutal sand storms, a schedule that sometimes required 100+ set ups in a day — and we had Gary Busey! When you’re on this runaway train of making a movie, hauling ass to get to the finish line, it all just gets turned into a blur. On the last day of filming, I was forced to slow down so we could take a group photo of the entire cast and crew. All of a sudden, I’m looking around at over 100 people who had given everything to this movie. All underpaid, all worked to the bone, probably in their 10th hour with more to go, but no one was miserable. Everyone was laughing and hugging each other, all over-exhausted and it was great. I just soaked it in, and for once, didn’t care about a shot I screwed up, a performance I still wanted to get, or if the story was even working. That all went away. And sure, it’s corny, but I realized we had created this new family and what we get to do is pretty amazing.

What’s the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked in an interview?

“Why would Mary Death fight in a skirt? It leaves her femoral artery completely exposed and there’s no way she would enter combat that vulnerable.”

You can wish for a completely different take on Bounty Killer, which director would you choose to do it (and why)?

If it’s a completely different take then why not go Wes Anderson? Who doesn’t want to see a clever, handmade, sharply written post-apocalyptic move oozing with charm? Or for similar reasons, Sofia Coppola. If they don’t have to be alive, let’s go with Otto Preminger.

What did you change for the film in comparison to the cartoon/graphic novel?

One thing that was cut out of the movie is why Mary Death dresses like a 70’s stewardess. During the Corporate Wars, her dad, also a white collar criminal, had fled the chaos with her in his private jet. The plane crashes in gypsy territory. Her dad runs off scared, leaving a young Meredith alone with the stewardess who tries to fight off the gypsies and protect her. She dies and Meredith is captured and raised as a gypsy. When she finally escapes the gypsies, she changes her name to Mary Death and wears an outfit based on the stewardess’ dress in her honor. Not caring one bit if her femoral artery is exposed!

The other aspect that got changed, is in both the short and the cartoon, Mary Death and Drifter were originally both hunting a particular accountant, Jack Billings, who would hopefully lead them to Catherine. Billings knew where Catherine and the Council were and why Drifter was being set up. In the middle of this, Mary Death finds out Drifter is accused of being a white collar himself. In the short, the original motorcycle/stage coach chase scene was actually Mary Death and Drifter chasing Billings, who escaped the gypsies on their Stage Coach. It was a little more unhinged as Mary Death was fighting off gypsies while simultaneously trying to kill Drifter and catch Billings, all while heading straight towards a graveyard of smashed airplanes. I really liked the idea of this mystery figure with a head full of secrets and the whole through-line of that story, but at the time it hadn’t worked in the comic book, and so was removed from the adaptation. It seems small, but it actually removed a big section of the story. I think in the end it was probably another character to keep track of in an already busy world, but I do miss it.

Other than that, things are moved around, but most of the ideas remained intact. In the earliest draft, Drifter was actually Mary Death’s father who abandoned her with the gypsies. She finds out the man she’s been hunting her whole life just trained her to become a Bounty Killer. Hmmm, maybe I like that idea better too…

Last but not least: Are you planning on directing a feature film anytime soon?

I’m actually in the middle of two projects. One is more in the “Bounty Killer” range, but this time it’s more an Action/Sci-Fi movie. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Colin and I just adapted a true story called “Flight of Passage” by Rinker Buck. It’s set in the 60’s and more in the vein of a “Stand By Me” wrapped in the adventure of flying, more of a personal story. No exploding heads in that one yet, but i’ll see if I can sneak one in.

© Daniel Fabian | Steelarchive



Bounty Killer auf DVD & Blu-ray

Steelarchive hat Bounty Killer gleich zwei unterschiedliche Versionen spendiert. Die sind auf jeweils 175 Stück limitiert und natürlich durchnummeriert. Für 29,95€ bekommt man den Film im Steelbook inklusive Schuber, Limitierungskarte und Booklet (mit meinen Interviews, yay!). Um eins der letzten Restexemplare zu erwischen und Neuheiten des Labels in Zukunft net zu verpassen, schauts am besten bei Steelarchive auf Facebook vorbei!

Wer auf die Verpackung pfeift und einfach nur den Film sehen will, ist aber sicher mit der Standard Edition besser bedient – oder zumindest günstiger dran. Von Splendid Film gibts Bounty Killer auch als stinknormale DVD & Blu-ray.


Ein Gedanke zu “„Bounty Killer“: Regisseur Henry Saine über die Comic-Vorlage, die Dreharbeiten und eine mögliche Fortsetzung

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