Dinner with Leatherface: Michael Kallio’s saga to honor Gunnar Hansen

2 of 9

Michael Kallio – Bruce Campbell 2 – Courtes of Michael Kallio and Kim Simms

So, You Want to Make a Movie?

1428 Elm: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Michael! Let’s go back to the beginning. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s you directed quite a bit of short films. Then in 2002, you did your first feature, Hatred of a Minute. Tell us about the evolution of that project.

Michael Kallio: I contacted Bruce Campbell via old school, US postal service in 1990. My letter basically read, “Dear Bruce, I’m 20 and want to make my first feature film but, I don’t know how to even begin raising money independently.” Three weeks later, rushing to a meeting trying to get seed money to pay a lawyer to write up the Limited Partnership for the production, I get a phone call.

We are already running late (we meaning my pal Mike Brown who is going to introduce me to a guy who ended up never giving us any money for a lawyer). I tell my grandmother that I can’t take any calls when she tells me its Bruce Campbell.

I freak out but, collect myself and answer. He agrees to help me learn the ropes of independent film production and the rest, as they say, is history.

I went through a series of what Bruce liked to call “flake tests” in which I apparently passed because, I’m still here and he didn’t tell me to get lost. The “tests” were me proving that this was something I was passionate about and I wasn’t going to “flake” out and quit when the going got rough and it did get rough.

1428 Elm: Sounds like guerilla filmmaking 101. Exactly how challenging did it get?

MK: I had a project I was working on with some old friends entitled “Southern Hospitality” and I had one investor that put in a little under $10,000. Unfortunately, that project fell apart but the investor allowed me to carry the funding he had given me over to another film. The other film was something I had written to be a Super-8 short but decided I would rewrite it as a feature.

That investor ended up giving us a whole LOT more scratch when Campbell became more involved. He had already known Gunnar Hansen of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame was signed on because of the previous film.

Production went pretty smoothly. From Mid-August to Mid-September of 1995, we shot for 4 weeks, 5-day weeks, 12 hours a day… we only went over 12 hours 2 or 3 days. I moved to LA from Detroit at the end of September and lived with Bruce and his very lovely and very tolerant wife, Ida, cutting the picture with Sam Raimi’s editor, Bob Murawski for a few weeks until he had to move on to another gig.

More from Horror Movies

He handed the project off to his assistant Paul Hart and we worked until Mid-December when I started running out of money. We cut a slick trailer with Evil Dead 2 editor; Kaye Davis and I left California and went back to Detroit in hopes to use it to raise more loot. THIS is where it got… “rough.”

I wasn’t happy about going back to the Michigan cold nor was I happy the project stalled. After taking a nice holiday break, we did some pick-up shots and a bunch of new scenes Bruce and I came up with that helped pull the story together better. We shot that stuff sometime in late April of 1996, if I remember correctly.

Thus, began the ups and downs of making a low budget movie. After raising a bit more money, we got back to editing the picture… which started out with a simple funny comment I made to Bruce. When asked whom I thought should continue editing, I made a joke that I should learn the editing system and I would cut “Hatred” like Robert Rodriguez does with his movies.

“Great idea,” Bruce proclaimed. I was sort of joking but he set it up to where Paul would fly out to Michigan with the digital editing system we were using (an EMC… great for the time but, highly primitive now). He came out for a week, taught me the ropes and then, over the late Spring and early Summer of 1996, I would edit my flick for 10-12 weeks.

I’m glad I learned that skill set when it was all said and done. I use that ability to make a living in LA in between directing gigs and it sure has come in handy for Bruce and a number of my other regular clients.