Michael Biehn and his wife Jennifer Blanc-Biehn were in Houston for Comicpalooza in 2012 and took time out of their schedule to talk to me about their new endeavor. The duo have started their own production company and are specializing in low budget Grindhouse styled movies, The Victim being the first for the duo.
Shawn S. Lealos: Talk about the starting of your production company. How important is it for you to follow the Robert Rodriguez guide of just grabbing a camera and starting to shoot and not waiting for someone to offer you something?
Michael Biehn: It is exactly what you just said. His work really inspired me. I was doing The Divide and I went to a coffee shop and saw a kid reading Rebel without a Crew. I had read it before, and since the time I worked with Robert, and also Quentin [Tarantino], I became aware of these Grindhouse and low budget movies. These are not the type of movies I would go into a video store and pick up. I Spit on Your Grave – I’m just not going to rent it.
Now, it turns out I saw the new I Spit on Your Grave and it is really well done. I thought it was very well directed with a great cast and I really thought it was great. I just wasn’t aware of these low budget movies until I met Robert and Quentin. When I saw the guy reading Rebel Without a Crew, I thought it might be fun to do a little exploitation movie.
Jennifer was with me up in Canada, doing The Divide, and I asked her if she could put me in touch with somebody that had a little bit of money. There was this guy named Ryan Honey, who had come to me about a year earlier, and he wanted to make a movie about Burt Lancaster because he looks like Burt Lancaster but he didn’t have enough money to make a period piece. I said if anything else came up, I might come back to him.
[Jennifer] brought me a script called The Victim about a year previously and it was a first time screenwriter, was not written in screenplay form and it needed a lot of work. They asked me if I would work on it, rewrite it and be in it, but I didn’t really want anything to do with it. I thought at that point, maybe I could use that material, rewrite that material and go back to the guy who wanted to do a movie about Burt Lancaster. There was a really good role for the antagonist in the movie, and I thought he could be the antagonist. He had done some work in soap operas and episodic television and I said it was a really good role for him if he could bring us a little bit of money.
He got us a little bit of money so we took the script and made this little Grindhouse movie.
Jennifer Blanc-Biehn: Michael rewrote it in three weeks. Lorna Paul and I were prepping the movie with Ryan Honey and Brock Morse and a bunch of people that came on board at that point. Michael said to me that ‘if I am excited about the movie we make, I think we should start our own production company.’ We were excited about it and we started seeking out the next project. The next project is Treachery.
Shawn: Are you doing your own scripts in the new company or producing your own?
Jennifer: We are doing both. This next one, Treachery, came straight from Travis Romero. This is not based on someone’s script. It is Travis’ and he is directing it. We are all starring in it.
Michael: He was one of the producers on The Victim and I’ve known him for a long time. The Victim turned out to be such a good experience for us. I said that, after years and years of working for other people, I said to the guys that put up the money for The Victim that I’ll do it but it was at such a low budget that I would have to have all the creative control. I have to have all the production control and I have to decide who we sell it to and when we sell it. They agreed to that and that is what is exciting to me being our own production company and making our own movies.
When we did The Victim I wanted to show studio people and mini-studios that I could make a movie for this amount of money and it made money. It is going to make money.
Jennifer: It is already making money and will make its budget back.
Michael: At the time I thought that I made this movie and it made a profit and I proved that to you, so how about if you give me more money next time around and I’ll make a bigger movie. What has happened is we made a smaller movie, tried to keep the costs down and keep the quality up. There is more of a chance for everyone involved to make their money back and make a profit.
Jennifer: We do have bigger productions on the horizon, but those are 2013. We have partnered up with Xavier Gens from The Divide and after he finishes two movies, one in Iceland and one in France, and we finish our movie next year, there will be a trio of Grindhouse movies, bigger budget than The Victim but smaller than Robert Rodriguez movie and it is going to be a lot of fun.
One is a zombie movie, another is a mix. The Victim is a sexploitation movie and that is how that fits into Grindhouse. A zombie movie automatically becomes a Grindhouse movie. The other two movies will fit into the same vein as The Victim.
Shawn: When does The Victim come out?
Jennifer: The Victim is in a limited release in theaters at The Quad in New York City on August 24 for a week. In L.A., it will be playing at two theaters, including at the New Beverly Cinema. It will start there on Sept. 7 for a week and then be wide released, DVD, VOD, Redbox, at the end of September.