The Amateur Monster Movie is a feature film released in 2011 by Jozef K. Richards and King's Tower Productions. It premiered on the night of Saturday, January 1 at midnight at the Oriental Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It is the first feature film from Jozef K. Richards and King's Tower Productions and the first King's Tower Productions premiere to be hosted by the company itself, separate of other events. It was released by King's Tower Productions on DVD in 2012, YouTube and Vimeo in 2013, Amazon Video in 2016, and Vimeo On Demand in 2018. It is the last King's Tower film to be released on the DVD format and the last time Jozef K. Richards was listed in the credits as Kyle Richards only (modified in subsequent releases).
The origins of The Amateur Monster Movie date back to August of 2004 when writer Jozef K. Richards began writing his first preliminary script notes, stating inspiration from the mood of a song by The Bob Crewe Generation which would find its way into the film years later, "Music to Watch Girls By".
The original notes bore a few similarities to the final film, though much would change in versions to come. From the start, the main character Walter Romero (named for horror director George A. Romero) was a high school student who loses his best friend to a werewolf attack in the opening scene. However, it was originally a friend by the name of "Flick" who was killed while chasing his dog into the forest. Instead of visiting the Guru the next day, Walter visits "Wrigley" the janitor. "Larry" and "Freddy" are two bullies at school (named for Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth's characters' real names in the movie Reservoir Dogs, a duo that would become Larry and Duane, two cops, in the final version) and their punching bag "Marvin" (also named for the abducted cop in Reservoir Dogs) who bears similarities to the cops' trainee DJ in the final film. Walter's crush is called "Michelle Bachman" instead of Ashley Valinski and a school athlete character is named "Duane", named for the lead actor in Night of the Living Dead, instead of the cop. The two monsters identified in the notes were a werewolf and, rather than zombies, a phantom. "Music to Watch Girls By" is described to be playing as Walter rides his bike down "dreary streets" in the "earlier morning" as the "main credits begin to scroll", one scene that would find its way into the final script 5 years later.
Development (2005, 2009)
With the successful release of Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead in 2004, the potential for horror-comedy seemed greater than ever. Jozef was inspired to include zombies in the film as well, and the idea for a phantom was dropped. Around this time, Jozef and company (then going by "Water Tower Productions") were hired to write and perform a live show for a Boy Scout banquet on February 25, 2005. For this script, Jozef told the story of three boy scouts, "Randy", "Butch", and "Timmy" (notably played by actor Chris Ouchie who would later star in The Amateur Monster Movie) who contrast positive and negative qualities the scouts can possess, while putting up with their boorish "Scout Master Bradley" (played by Richards himself) on a camping trip. These characters would find their way into a new opening scene for The Amateur Monster Movie that Richards wrote in 2005, nearly identical to the one in the final film.
In 2006, after releasing his first short film "Three Suits" and adopting the name King's Tower Productions, Richards began to take the idea of making a feature film more seriously. Development began on what was intended to be the first feature from King's Tower, Hidden Morels. Pre-production for Hidden Morels began in 2007, shortly after Jozef's high school graduation in January, and a complete budget and schedule were created with producer/actor Yan Birch (known for his role in Wes Craven's People Under the Stairs) and second unit photography began with a small crew in Muscoda, Wisconsin in May of the same year that included frequent collaborators Alex Trapp and Kenny Somerville. However, set in summer, when the film was unable to raise the necessary budget before June, Jozef moved to Chicago to attend Columbia College and work on the film was halted.
In early 2009, now living in Phoenix, Arizona, Jozef was inspired to resume work on Hidden Morels, forming the company Hidden Morels to begin fundraising. Once again, however, fundraising was not able to keep pace with approaching deadlines. In March of 2009, determined to begin his first feature film before turning 20 but unable to gain momentum for Hidden Morels, Jozef decided to switch gears. Instead of attempting to raise the $500,000 USD estimated to be needed to produce Hidden Morels, he would attempt to make something without any money, with a premise that lent itself to being made on the cheap for comedic effect, The Amateur Monster Movie.
Using the boy scout scene as his opening, Jozef wrote the rest of the script for The Amateur Monster Movie in March of 2009. Some roles were written specifically for the actors who portrayed them, including Chris Ouchie as Walter Romero, Stephen Kimble as Officer Duane Black, Alex Trapp as Booker, Rick Herd as Database, Matt Mast as the Werewolf, Corey Gibb as DJ, Curtis Yorkey as Mr. Mathia, and Richards' own role, as Johnny Mason. Recruiting long-time collaborators Quinn Hester and Kenny Somerville as the director of photography and assistant director respectively, Jozef made plans to leave The Art Institute of Phoenix and return home to Wisconsin to focus on the film.
The rest of the core crew were recruited in Wisconsin, which included Eric Wescott, Matthew Balz, Jon Elliott, and Jozef's then-neighbor, Ryan Dewerth, all making their King's Tower debuts and casting was further completed. Bruce Spielbauer and Jacob Woelfel would return from previous productions and new faces included Steve Golla, Charles Ramsey, Elizabeth Tannehill, and Matt Henry. At this point, actress Kendall Yorkey was set to play Ashley Valinski, who previously appeared in Jozef's short film "Seffy D", and Matt Ott was attached as a second producer, who had previously worked with DP Quinn Hester on the Thornton Brothers short film, "Bitch".
Production began in June of 2009 in Wisconsin, in and around the Milwaukee area. After 2 weeks, producer Matt Ott left the film to work as a production assistant on the film, No God, No Master, also filming in the Milwaukee area that summer. Ott then recruited DP Quinn Hester and AD Kenny Somerville to join No God, No Master as production assistants as well. Hester and Somerville remained on The Amateur Monster Movie, dividing their time between the two projects. Matthew Balz stepped into the assistant director role in Somerville's place on many shoots. Though Richards had to fill in for Quinn behind the camera only once, Eric Wescott would end up completely taking over his role as editor, working together with Richards.
Coinciding with Ott's departure, Kendall Yorkey also left the film on the week of her first shoot as Ashley, and was hastily replaced by actress Cece Mallinckrodt, who had previously auditioned for Hidden Morels in 2007. Production continued through July and August of 2009, primarily shooting on weekends. In August of 2009, Cece decided to leave the film as well, leaving the crew with a difficult choice on how to deal with the remaining 20% of her scenes that she had not finished. The team tried writing personal letters to her and even enlisted the help of Clerks director Kevin Smith, who left her a voicemail during a live show in Milwaukee, making a plea to her to finish the film. It didn't work.
From September 2009 to May 2010, production was postponed for fall and winter. Only one scene was shot in this time, Mark Borchardt's appearance as Walter's guidance counselor, Mr. Englan, a scene which had been written in specifically for Mark.
To complete the film, the team decided they would recast Ashley and re-shoot all of her scenes in a marathon shoot they dubbed, "Gauntlet Week". The majority of the scenes involving Ashley were re-shot that week with a new actress, Samantha Goetz. Production ended in September 2010.
Post Production/Premiere (2010-2012)
The film premiered at the Oriental Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the night of January 1, 2011 (technically January 2, at midnight) to a crowd of over 700, filling the main floor.
|Chris Ouchie||Walter Romero|
|Jozef K. Richards||Johnny Mason|
|Samantha Goetz||Ashley Valinski|
|Steve Golla||Officer Larry Hopkins|
|Stephen Kimble||Officer Duane Black|
|Charles Ramsey||Mayor Kimball|
|Megan McGivern||Mandy Hollywood|
|Bruce Spielbauer||The Guru|
|Matt Mast||The Werewolf|
|Mark Borchardt||Mr. Englan|
|Curtis Yorkey||Mr. Mathia|
|Rex Sikes||Deputy Riley McFinnigan|
|Shawn Monaghan||Officer Trevor Pohl|
|Sue Montney||Mrs. Mack|
|Adam Montney||Mack Jr.|
|Kenny Somerville||SWAT Leader|
|Jon Elliott||SWAT Perv / Random Stoner|
|Carolyn Kanter||Reporter Jamie Johnson|
|Ed Gale||Reporter Mel Tambor (voice)|
|Melissa Etzler||Ashley's Left Friend|
|Kate Goetz||Ashley's Right Friend|
|Judith Richards||Female Officer / Zombie|
|William Richards||Senior Officer|
|Andy Karwoski||Bike Rack Bully|
|Latesha Jude||Whispering Girl|
|Alesia Verser||Girl at Locker|
|Derek Strasser||Punkass Kid|
|Tim Russell||Cover Zombie / Dry Denim Zombie|
|Corrine Kucharski||Lesbian Zombie|
|Linda Cieslik||Tennis Racket Zombie|
|Vikram Shanker||Clerk Zombie|
|Keri Soehrmann||Teen Girl Zombie|
|Don Ouchie||Farmer Zombie|
|Robert Richards||Zombie with Tie|
|Eric Wescott||Wandering Zombie|
|Matt Batta||Rapist Zombie|
|Russel Scott||Afro Zombie|
|Courtney Leminger||Island Girl Zombie|
|Nicholas Denk||Island Man Zombie|
|Matthew Balz||Head-crushed Zombie / Wet Denim Zombie / stunts|
|Thomas Foley||Tit Biting Zombie|
|Desmond Jenkins||Black Zombie|
|Cami DesJardins||Unexpected Zombie|
|Samuel Kozel||Redneck Zombie|
|Sydney Ruf-Wong||Topless Zombie|
|Kate Valdovinos||Another Topless Zombie|
|Jeff Skonecki||SWAT Boat Driver|
|Zack Weddig||SWAT Georgia Brown|
|Jozef K. Richards||writer / director / producer / editor|
|Quinn Hester||director of photography|
|Jon Elliott||executive producer|
|Matthew Balz||associate producer|
|Quinn Hester||associate producer|
|Susie Marine||associate producer|
|Carol Marquardt||associate producer|
|William Richards||associate producer|
|Eric Wescott||associate producer|
|Judith Richards||costume designer / makeup artist / assistant propmaster / extras casting / assistant to Mr. Mast / special makeup effects / werewolf design|
|Matthew Balz||1st unit assistant director / assistant makeup / best boy electric / set decorator / unit photographer / special effects "Team Gore"|
|Kenny Somerville||2nd unit assistant director / boom operator|
|Eric Wescott||production manager / production sound mixer / boom operator / dolly grip / property master / extras casting / special effects "Team Gore"|
|Robert Richards||catering / craft services / production accountant / extras casting|
|Ryan Dewerth||stunt coordinator / best boy grip / unit photographer / extras casting|
|Jozef K. Richards||location manager / assistant camera|
|Quinn Hester||camera operator / gaffer|
|Jon Elliott||boom operator / best boy grip / extras casting / key production assistant / special effects "Team Gore"|
|Susie Marine||assistant makeup|
|Chris Ouchie||assistant makeup / key grip / extras casting / special effects coordinator|
|Mary Ouchie||assistant makeup|
|Phil Koch||crane operator / unit photographer|
|Matt Ott||casting associate|
|Frankie Abbott||assistant to Mr. Herd|
|Kyle Arpke||production assistant|
|Matt Batta||production assistant|
|Brian Dunigan||production assistant|
|Samuel Kozel||production assistant|
|Jon Phillips||production assistant|
|Maria Pretzl||production assistant|
|Hank Carlson||special effects consultant|
Post production crew
|Eric Wescott||visual effects / sound editor|
|Dan Kattman||visual effects / additional editing by|
|Quinn Hester||additional editing by|
|Drew Maxwell||additional editing by / sound effects editor|
|Jon Elliott||assistant editor|
|Chris Ouchie||assistant editor|
|Lightning Rod Studios, LLC||additional post production & visual effects services|