George Bonilla- Filmmaker
The historic Kentucky Theatre, in
downtown Lexington, is no stranger to midnight movies. In fact
they have been a part of the theater's rich history for over 25
years. The crowd for this Saturday night show is larger than
normal, with about 200 people waiting patiently in the
auditorium for the show to start. Of course this is no ordinary
midnight showing. Tonight the Kentucky Theatre plays host to the
world premiere of Monstrosity, the newest film from
local writer and director George Bonilla and his company
ZP International Motion
George, wearing a shiny black and gold sports coat, stands at
the front of the auditorium to introduce his film, graciously
thanking everyone for their support. The lights dim and the
audience applauds wildly as the film begins.
Afterwards as the crowd exits the auditorium, George is there
again, this time shaking hands and signing copies of the film on
DVD that are being sold at a nearby table. From the energy and
excitement displayed by Bonilla, you would never guess that it
is past two o'clock in the morning.
Prior to all this, George Bonilla sat down with me to discuss
Monstrosity and his thoughts about independent
Nic – So George, tell us a little bit about why
you're here tonight.
George—Well Nic, tonight we have a showing of our latest motion
picture. It's called Monstrosity and stars John Dugan from the
original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Monstrosity is the
sixth feature film that ZP International Pictures has released.
Nic—Monstrosity is your sixth feature film. How long
have you been making movies?
George—I've been working in television and things of that nature
for almost 25 years and I've been making movies for about the
past ten years.
Nic—I understand that ZP International Pictures is
based in Kentucky, is that correct?
George—That's right. We're based completely in the Lexington,
Richmond, and Frankfort [Kentucky] area. We do all of our
shooting here and we use local talent as much as humanly
Nic—So tell us a little bit about the film that is
having its big screen premiere tonight?
George—It’s what I like to consider just a good old fashioned
scary movie. We’d done several other films like Edison Death
Machine, Zombie Planet and Dance with a Vampire
that had quite a complex story line and characters, many layers
to them. Then somebody said that what I really needed to do was
make a good old fashioned movie that just scares people. I
thought about it a bit and then I thought, what scares people?
Monsters in an abandoned factory, that's scary and that was the
genesis of the story came. I'm going to put people into an
abandoned factory where they're hunting something and something
ends up hunting them. It’s just good action, drama, scary.
Nic— I know it was only recently completed. Is
tonight the premiere of Monstrosity?
George—Yes it is. This is our first theatrical showing of the
film. We did screen it at the Fright Night Film Festival in
Louisville, Kentucky as a favor because John Dugan was a guest
there. Also Ken Daniels, who runs the festival, asked us to let
him show it there because our film Edison Death Machine won the
award for Best Special Effects at last year's festival. But,
this is its true world premiere.
Nic— Will you be entering Monstrosity in any other
George—Actually I am. There is one we're
going to be at in Milwaukee called the
It Came From
Lake Michigan Film Festival. Also we're going to have a
representative of our company screen it in a show in Little
Rock, Arkansas, that's Full Moon Video, and we'll have it at a
show in Nashville, Tennessee as well.
Nic—Sounds like October will be a busy month for ZP
George—Extremely busy. In fact we're going to be working on
something new with our first feature film Zombie Planet
and its sequel Zombie Planet 2. We’re taking the two
films, which are a four hour epic and condensing them down to
one two hour movie called The Kane Chronicles: The Battle
for Zombie Planet. I just finished the re-edit for part one
yesterday and I’ll start part two tomorrow. I should have them
ready to go in about three to four weeks. The final product will
be action packed!
It really is amazing, I’ll tell you I was worried about losing
characterizations and losing plot points but I’ve actually
managed to keep almost the entire story intact. I went in and
looked at the essence of each scene and said now what are we
supposed to understand about this scene? For example, this scene
is really about what Kane thinks about Adam and so when I
approached it that way I was able to take say a 12 minute scene
and boil it down to six minutes and it works.
Nic—Talking about filmmaking in general, can you
tell us a little bit about being an independent filmmaker? What
are some of the biggest challenges you face?
George—I’ll tell you about the big challenges for me. Most
people are going to say right off the bat “money”, but with
technology the way it is today I think that a person who’s smart
and thinks on their feet can get their picture made. To me the
challenge is more about getting people to take your picture
seriously. Once the picture is done and they see it, they take
it seriously. When you are getting a person on the set and they
realize that it is a 14-16 hour day and not some magical process
and getting people who will stick with it. That is a real
challenge. I mean we’ve had actors drop out and producers come
and go so I think really the hardest thing is just making the
feature and getting it done with manpower. I mean the other
things fall together. I also have to say that we’ve been very
successful so far, we’ve done six films and in November we start
work on Hellaphone, which will be our seventh feature!
Nic—What about distribution? Do you have any
difficulty actually getting your films out there to the
public once they’re made?
George—No, we’ve been very fortunate. We’ve been
picked up by two different companies. Tempe Entertainment picked
up Zombie Planet 1 and 2 and their contract ran its
course and it’s kind of nice because they actually said to us
that they didn’t think they were getting our movies out there as
big as they should get and I think somebody else could do
better. So Brain Damage Films or Maxum Media has picked us up
for those films. Since then we’ve decided with Dance with a
Vampire, Edison Death Machine, and now Monstrosity
that we would do our own distribution and we’re actually doing
very well at it. We’ve had four different offers on Edison and
three on Monstrosity. So far we’re handling our pictures just
fine. I mean if somebody backs up with a truck full of money,
we’ll give it to them, but right now we have two worldwide
distribution deals and we’re handling three ourselves.
(Note: after this interview was completed, Edison
Death Machine went on to win the award for Best Science Fiction
Film at the
2007 It Came From Lake Michigan Film Festival.)