Scarface Productions holds to guerilla ideals

When up-and-coming Anchorage production group Scarface Productions set out to complete its third feature-length film, no one involved imagined the difficult decisions that awaited them. Aside from the standard hassles involved with mustering a cast and crew to shoot on a regular basis, the fledgling outfit had to muster the funds for an expensive high-definition camera halfway through the shoot. In a shocking move, the minds behind the outfit turned down a large sum from a potential investor in the name of retaining control of their work.

The people behind Scarface Productions have achieved notoriety in Anchorage during the past couple of years. They were widely noted throughout the community during their filming of “Tony Vs. Lisa,” a documentary chronicling their unconventional campaign to get Tony Knowles elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004. Scarface director, writer and producer Bryant Mainord next made headlines when he angered television station KYES and the Federal Communications Commission by illegally broadcasting his first feature, a college comedy called “Checked Out,” late one night on Channel 5.

Scarface Productions is an example of guerilla filmmaking, a down-and-dirty grassroots approach to filmmaking, whose main focus is getting the shot, no matter what.

Scarface’s current production, a comedy called “Beekeeping,” is no exception. In “Beekeeping,” Scarface returns to the genre it began with in its first feature: the college comedy. “Beekeeping” is being shot entirely on the UAA campus, using almost entirely UAA students for its cast and crew. Mainord serves as writer and director, with his old partner Dave Turnbull producing. Owen Gourley, Kyle Johnston, John Whitlock, Joey Weaver and Mainord himself play the lead roles in the film.

Representatives of Scarface Productions said the film should appeal to UAA students.

“This movie is about young people going to college to avoid growing up, and I think a lot of UAA students can relate to that,” Gourley said.

The production hit a snag when Mainord learned he would not have access to a camera he planned to use. A potential investor who expressed interest in the project offered a deal whereby Scarface Productions would receive a sum of money in exchange for distribution rights. In spite of the tempting financial boost, members of the company turned down the offer. They opted instead to set about raising the money for the camera themselves, and retain control of their finished product. While some have expressed astonishment of Scarface’s rejection of the deal, Mainord stressed the importance of holding true to the ideals of guerilla filmmaking.

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“What we’re doing is what we’ve always done: to make this stuff happen, and happen in the way we want it to,” Mainord said. “Sometimes you gotta whoop a butt barefoot.”

The company pulled the necessary funds together and ordered a new camera. Cast and crew members all pitched in to get the necessary equipment as soon as possible. Shooting resumed the weekend of Nov. 12, and the group said it is pleased with the use of the new high-definition technology, which reportedly looks almost like film.

There’s still a lot of shooting left to be done, and Mainord said the cast and crew are committed to the task.

“Guerilla filmmaking ain’t easy, but it’s what we do,” he said.