James Bickert and Brian K. Williams are likeminded brethren in the indie film world. They have similar sensibilities, and each leave their own distinct stamp on whatever they touch. Before directing AMAZON HOT BOX, James notably directed Dear God No! and its sequel, Frankenstein Created Bikers. Brian, on the other hand, is most well-known for directing Space Babes From Outer Space and Time to Kill, as well as Producing the likes of genre favorites Harvest Lake and Plank Face. For AMAZON HOT BOX, they come together (with James directing and Brian producing) to make what promises to be an absolutely insane women-in-prison flick. In an interesting move, the film was completed before they even unleashed the kickstarter campaign to the world. I was lucky enough to chat with these guys, and I really hope it gets you hyped up enough to go throw your money at them.
“Life is cheap and the jungle explodes in AMAZON HOT BOX.” Would you mind explaining this line from your press release?
JB – Everyone in this film is trapped to some degree and their lives aren’t worth much. This is a world that progress forgot, being exploited from the outside for wealth. The internal conflicts lead to an explosive finale.
It sounds like this film could be as nuts (if not moreso) as Frankenstein Created Bikers! Is it similar tonally, or were you aiming for something different with Amazon Hot Box?
JB – I was married to the tone of the Frankenstein Created Bikers prequel but it is still my wacky voice experimenting with the underlying themes that drive me today. I’m even more familiar with the Women In prison genre so it was a sweet jump off the motorcycle. AMAZON HOT BOX can be dark at times but you can tell we’re having a blast on set. I think it’s a faster and rowdier film than the last.
Did you include any direct references to other women-in-prison films, or did you have any specific films you used as guidance?
JB – No obvious ‘tongue in cheek’ references. For genre guidance, it would probably be Jess Franco’s 99 Women and Barbed Wire Dolls along with all the Filipino Roger Corman produced films. The story really requires that Banana Republic vibe. We modeled the dresses off the Female Convict Scorpion series and the interiors were based off Tarantini’s Women In Fury I’ve been studying this genre furiously for over 30 years and I knew the day would come when I could make a WIP film.
AMAZON HOT BOX is unlike any ever made. It’s an original.
Women-in-prison is an exploitation genre, but in AMAZON HOT BOX the idea isn’t really to exploit women, is it?
BKW– Something that James and I both really agree on is that we love strong and complex female characters inhabiting a world of clueless men. We are both big fans of Russ Meyer, and the kind of world he creates in his films. The women in this film are some of the most bad ass people I know, and the characters James wrote for them are equally as bad ass.
JB – Even through the worst “been done wrong”-living-in-a-country song moments of life, I’ve never disliked women and apparently there are people who do. I don’t want them to identify with the beer drinking yarns I’m spinning. I want to see intelligent female characters kicking men in the nuts.
You managed to keep this project under wraps until it WAS a wrap. How difficult was it to not tell the world what you were making?
BKW– For me, it was incredibly difficult. I’m so proud of this film, and all of the people involved in it, I wanted to shout it out to the world from the beginning. What made it easier to keep quiet was keeping busy. From the week we moved to Atlanta, we began working on this film, and have continued to work on it non stop to ensure it’s the greatest film we can possibly put out there.
JB – I found it easy. I knew the marketing would be a full time job. (laughs) Everyone did a great job at keeping it under wraps.
Can you explain this new business model you are trying out?
BKW– It’s a difficult time for independent film right now. With piracy as rampant as ever, and domestic distribution continuing to rip off artists, and ‘middle men’ taking a large chunk of everything they touch, we are trying to bridge the gap between content creators, and the people that consume that content. By keeping our rights to our film domestically, we are able to retain ownership of the film, we are able to produce whatever kind of content we desire, with nobody telling us we can’t or limiting our creativity for mass market. We are able to make the kind of films we want to see ourselves, and keep the rights to them, and sell them directly to our fans.
JB – We also felt people would want access to the film immediately without having to wait. Having everything completed before the initial announcement would speed up the entire process for us and the fans.
Was there ever a worry about whether or not this movie would work, since you didn’t have an immediate fan response when the movie was shooting?
BKW– I guess there’s somewhat of a worry for me anytime I work on a film, and throughout most of the stages of production to some degree. When you make a film, you become a part of it and it becomes a part of you. It consumes your life. It’s all you think about all day, every day, for months straight. You lock yourself into a room and write, or edit, etc, and then once it’s finished you push it out there into the world, and hope it connects with others the way it does with you. I’ve always believed that as long as YOU love it, and you are honest with yourself, that it will likely connect with others as well. But ultimately, you gotta do what you love, and that’s all that really matters to me.
Was this your first time working together?
BKW– James and I have been good friends for a few years, and talked about the possibility of working together at some point, and have screened our films together multiple times, but this was our first time collaborating together to this degree. We are co-owners of WIP Productions, LLC, and are already in the planning stages of our next film together.
JB – Since we love the same genres of film and have a similiar work ethic, it’s been a great relationship. In the past, I’ve been a loner when it came to post-production so the added benefits have really sped up the process. We don’t take ourselves very seriously, just the work so that’s refreshing too. Drama is the enemy of creativity for me. I like it on the screen only.
What are you hoping people get out of AMAZON HOT BOX?
JB – On the surface, entertainment like they have never seen or experienced before. If they read in between the lines they can discover some film nerd humor and below the surface are some themes they may get you thinking. But mailnly, its about having fun.
What other movie would each of you pair this with if you were curating a drive-in double feature?
BKW– I would pair it with Sweet Sugar. That movie is so much fun, and is filled with crazy, including a mad doctor, and kitty cats on L.S.D.
JB – That’s a good choice. Sex is weaponized in our film so I would go with Three Way Weekend so you could enjoy sexually liberated women having fun escapades in the woods. That would be a nice contrast.
Plug your shit!
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