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Butch Black takes on trouble in Circle City!
Local crime comedy Butch Black: the M.E.A.N. Man premiers at Cinema Center Tech
By Michael Summers
Fort Wayne Reader
Crooked detectives, desperate criminals, greedy underworld bosses… and a disgraced cop on the edge! All this and the women who love them in Butch Black: the M.E.A.N. Man, a locally-made movie premiering at Cinema Center Tech on Saturday, August 20 at Cinema Center Tech on the Indiana Tech campus.
Created by Fort Wayne native Dean Robinson, Butch Black is an entertaining mix of comedy and action. The story itself — a tale of corruption and crime in Circle City, a town with apparently the laziest police force in the world — is played relatively straight, like a classic crime tale right out of the pulps and “b-movies” of 50 years ago. But Robinson says it’s the comedy that gets top-billing in Butch Black. The jokes come fast and furious, ranging from tough-guy one-liners (“you couldn’t count to three if I started you off at two!”) to sight gags and Airplane-style silliness (Harry: “I thought you got kicked off the police force?” Butch: “That’s right.” Harry: “I don’t understand.” Butch: “It means you’re correct.”)
“Most of the action is pretty goofy,” Robinson says. “I tell people, there’s a little profanity and violence, but the violence is just so cartoony.”
Robinson wrote and directed the movie, composed the soundtrack, and stars as Butch Black, the M.E.A.N. Man, a character he came up with over a decade ago for a comic strip he wrote for Hi Jinx magazine. He shot the hour-long film in Fort Wayne over a period of two years during weekends and off-hours, working around the schedule of his cast and crew. “We basically had no budget,” he says. “When you have limited resources, it’s hard to keep that train rolling. For me, it wasn’t a matter of maintaining focus, because I was pretty dedicated to the project. It’s just finding the time.”
“I think continuity was probably the most difficult element,” he adds. “When you’ve got everything spread out that far, someone’s hair grows out, any sort of difference can show. There are things in there that I see where the continuity is blown, but I think overall there’s enough one-liners and silliness going on that you’re focused on that instead of the continuity.”
The cast and crew of Butch Black are made up of “friends and friends of friends” who volunteered their time for the project. “People are really willing to help out on something like this, especially if you can keep it going.”
Robinson did the music and the bulk of the editing on a Mac using the computer’s Garageband and iMovie software. It’s not something he recommends for anyone trying to make a film — more sophisticated editing and music software is available — but his limited resources and on/off shooting schedule forced him to concentrate on the story and be prepared. “I think one of the things that makes the movie stand out is the variety of shots,” he explains. “There’s a ton of shots in that movie. I did a lot of storyboarding with different scenes, especially the action sequences, so I knew exactly what I wanted to do.”
Any scene in the script that didn’t propel the story got cut. Robinson says that though he loves the spectacle of action films, what he really looks for in a movie is a good story. “I just felt like I had to tell the right story, something that’s going to be funny and compelling, and if there’s things that had to go, I had no problem in getting rid of them,” he says.
“There was a certain point, I was going to shoehorn some car explosions. They had nothing to do with the story, but at the time, I was driving this ’86 Camaro, and I actually found several model cars of that specific model. I thought, ‘Man, it would be so cool if I could just do this car explosion,’ but there was just no call in the story for it. But I really want to get a car explosion in there, so maybe the next time around.”
Robinson believes that the most he can hope for for Butch Black is a sort of cult-film status. He made it so he could learn the basics of film-making, with the hopes of one day being able to make a movie with “an actual budget.” The next step, after the premier, is just to get the fast-paced crime comedy in front of as many eyes as possible.
In the meantime, Robinson is at work writing the prequel, which will shed some light on Butch Black’s murky past. “I can tell you that Butch Black is the last surviving member of an elite army commando unit,” he says. “That much I can tell you. Other than that, you’ll just have to wait for the silliness to unfurl.”
Butch Black: the M.E.A.N. Man
Cinema Center Tech
1600 East Washington Blvd (Indiana Tech Campus)
8 pm, Saturday, August 20th
For more information, visit www.butchblack.com