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

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Michael Kallio – Gunnar Hansen 4 – Courtesy of Michael Kallio and Kim Simms

All about the Hustle

1428 Elm: It has taken you over 3 years to work on Dinner with Leatherface and you didn’t do crowdfunding, which is impressive… Trying to wrangle all of that talent together to talk about their experiences must have been challenging. How did you manage to stay focused?

MK: Well, focus, unfortunately, is tough sometimes mainly because of lack of money. When I started this project, I knew fully well it might take a while because I literally had no money to start but I had cameras and lights and sound and editing equipment so, I went for it.

Staying focused is pretty easy until you have bills to pay so, I schedule interviews and such when I can and then make money when I can, which helps me continue to shoot. It’s a vicious circle but it’s how it goes sometimes. I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to interview or get self-taped interviews as the project has progressed so, part of this doc is “crowdsourced” meaning that some people out of the state of California have gotten camera people and shot their own footage based on my questions and sent the footage to me.

This helps since, at this moment, I still have no money to fly to anyone. Hopefully, based on a rough-cut and trailer floating around, I can get some “finishing funds” and get some out of town interviews I would really like to include.

Everyone has been great about donating their time to the project and I have some fantastic stories and interviews from people like Bruce Campbell, Del Howison (author, editor, actor and owner of the infamous horror book store, Dark Delicacies), Tiffany Shepis, Debbie Rochon and Jeff Miller, just to name a few. Gunnar’s widow has also been supportive, so that helps.

Michael Kallio -Bruce Campbell – Dinner with Leatherface- Courtesy of Michael Kallio and Kim Simms

It’s a love letter to a man taken from us too soon. So, that keeps me focused, all of the good people behind it. I have been accused of doing this as a money grab… if that were the case, I wouldn’t have spent three years on the project AND counting.

Michael Kallio – Del Howison – Courtesy of Michael Kallio and Kim Simms

I would have been done by now, collected my money and washed my hands of it. The accusations were a bit daunting and threw me for a loop for a moment. But I’m doing this for the fans and I’m doing this for Gunnar who deserved more recognition for who he was… a writer, a filmmaker, a scholar, an intellectual and a big-hearted friend and colleague.

Plus, crowdfunding is a frigging full-time job. It’s tough and you have to always be on top of it, which is hard to do when you still need to make money and survive.

1428 Elm: When can we expect to see Dinner and will it be released on VOD or theatrically?

MK: Well, in a perfect world, it will be released in more theatres than Avengers: Endgame and make twice as much money but realistically, I’d love to see it get a small run in theatres and then blow up on VOD. It’s a small, intimate documentary about a horror icon that happens to be the exact opposite of what he became famous for so, I think there’s some cool merit to that. Who knows WHAT will happen though…? We only hope for the best when these personal projects get released.