The stars and planets were lined up and the signs received by friends were telling Joaquin Montalvan that he will make films. Fortunately for us, it happened so we can truly enjoy some wild, bizarre, and insane films made by Joaquin and his production company Sledgehammer Films. In addition to films, Sledgehammer also produces music videos, be sure to check out below their hard rocking song “Welcome to Hell” below which is the credit song for his recent film Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher. The film has recently become available on DVD and this 70s style film is quite an attention grabber. Tragically the star of Hillbilly Butcher passed away in April of 2014, please check out the tribute video Joaquin made for Paul (see at end).
Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher
In a lonely backwoods shack, Carl Henry Jessup spends his time drinkin’ and thinkin’ bout dem good ole days with only his half sister, Rae Lynn, and his friend, Billy Wayne to keep ‘em company…that is, till folks start trespassin’ on his property and Carl gets off his ass and becomes the “Hillbilly Butcher”.
Director/Writer Joaquin Montalvan shared some amazing information about the film, himself, and his production company Sledgehammer Films.
Five Quick Questions with Joaquin Montalvan
With numerous feature films, documentaries and shorts completed, can you tell us about yourself and when/how you got into the industry?
JOAQUIN: My first experience with Photography occurred in 1980 when my father handed me a Minolta SRT-101 35mm film still camera to document a trip to India. 19 years later I would start making my first film. While I’ve always been interested in Photography and Films, I had never been interested in filmmaking for myself. I wanted to be an actor. All that changed when a friend of mine, who was in the industry, prophesied that I was going to be making films. He mentioned a certain camera that had just come out and suggested I use that camera to make a film. I thought that was cool, but I said I needed some kind of sign because I was still more interested in being an actor, not a filmmaker.
2 weeks later, a woman whom I had previously done some work for, told me that she had bought the aforementioned camera and asked if I would like to use it to make a film (in exchange for filming a project of hers). That was my sign, and thus began my career in filmmaking. The first 2 films I made were with me in the lead role. Then in 2002, I started a documentary called “SKINHEAD” (which is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Skinhead-Joaquin-Montalvan/dp/B004TTOI6A/ref=sr_1_5?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1301158896&sr=) and that opened up a whole new world for me. Focusing the camera on someone else while looking through the viewfinder allowed me a more obsessive and satisfying focus on the visuals. I realized right then and there that I was more interested in creating images from behind the camera, than acting in front of it. That said, I’ll still play cameo roles in my films for those parts that are the nastiest, weirdest, roles that I write that I can’t see anyone else playing.
Legend of the Hillbilly Butcher appears to have a 70s style to it. Can you tell us the style you were going for and how you achieved it?
JOAQUIN: Yes, and that was completely intentional. As I was writing it, and as I was shooting it, I was constantly watching 70’s exploitation films. I was studying the look, and the vibe of these films. But I focused most intensely on one particular film, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”. I wanted “Legend Of the Hillbilly Butcher” to have the look and vibe of that film. I did a lot of things in order to try to visually achieve that feel, but 2 things in particular I think were key. “Legend Of the Hillbilly Butcher” was shot almost completely handheld, by me, to give you that “you are there” and “this is really happening” aesthetic. Additionally, when “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” first came out there was a mistake at the film lab and a lot of the prints ended up going out and they had a greenish cast to them. That is how I remember the look of the film when I saw it, so I took out a lot of the red from the image in post to emulate that look. Finally, though it was shot digitally, the last thing that a film called “Legend Of The Hillbilly Butcher” should look like is digital. So, I also wanted to make sure that it looked like old damaged film, there is more I can say here but that’s all I’m willing to reveal at this point in time.
Could you share a little about the cast, crew, filming location and how the overall filming went?
JOAQUIN: Paul E. Respass, aka “Carl Henry Jessup”, the “Hillbilly Butcher”, has been the lead actor in my first 3 films. “MOBIUS” which is available here: http://www.amazon.com/Paul-E-Respass/dp/B001TK2A3A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1252172008&sr=1-1
“HOLE” which will be released in early 2015 from Wild Eye Releasing and “Legend Of The Hillbilly Butcher” which came out last week from Whacked Movies and is available here:
Unfortunately, he passed away in April of this year. Paul was my muse. My films tend to be character studies, and a lot of the ideas for those characters came from my interactions and discussions with Paul on my porch over coffee and cigars. Paul knew my fascination with and love for dark subject matter and he loved going there for me and my films. Theresa Holly, aka “Rae Lynn”, I met through Paul who took me to a play that she was in and I was immediately inspired by her look. She was in my second film “H O L E”. As a result, that led to her being cast in “Legend Of The Hillbilly Butcher” and she brought an amazing level of life and warmth to “Rae Lynn”. In fact, she so inhabited that role that I kept adding more and more scenes for her character. As for the locations, the film was shot entirely in Pasadena, California, primarily in 2 locations. My house and the arroyo seco. My house was built in 1911 and has a wonderful old fashioned feel to it, complete with a creepy old shed as well as a basement. I also have a large and fairly overgrown backyard which cut together perfectly with the arroyo seco which is only 15 minutes away from where I live. Filming went quickly, as quickly as it can when you are only shooting on weekends, and smoothly although during the filming of the final scene in the arroyo seco, someone called the paramedics because they thought someone had actually gotten hurt. Several police officers showed up but they let us keep shooting and we were able to finish the movie.
Sledgehammer Films has been producing films for over a decade now. Can you tell us about the company?
JOAQUIN: Yes, thank you for asking. My partner and spouse, Eunice Font, and I started the company in June of 1999. Since that time, we have made numerous narrative features, documentary features, shorts, and music videos, not all of which are listed on IMDb. We have no plans of stopping and plan to keep on making films. You can follow us here: http://www.sledgehammerfilms.com/
Are there any upcoming projects in the works for you and Sledgehammer Films?
JOAQUIN: Of course, we just completed another music video “Welcome To Hell” which is the end credit song from “Legend Of The Hillbilly Butcher” and the music video features footage from the film which has never been released publicly before. You can view it here: [youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TFSvBdlbwRI “]
Presently, I’m writing the next film which is a multiple genre apocalyptic sort of thing which I would like to start shooting by years end, but I need to line some things up first. I’m looking for a make-up fx person, as well as a vehicle for the 5 leads. If anyone is interested in being a part of either, you can send me a private message on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/joaquin.montalvan?ref=profile
We can’t thank Joaquin enough and definitely there will be some astounding projects coming soon from Sledgehammer to look forward to!!!
Go to Joaquin’s website for more information http://www.joaquinmontalvan.com/
Paul E. Respass tribute video
[youtube_sc url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_phIAXbYr8 “]
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