Tricia Brock | There’s No Need To Fear…

“This film is an underdog. I’m an underdog. We’re all out there just trying to make our way a little bit.”

 

Tricia Brock doesn’t want a trophy. Brock, the director of the independent feature film Killer Diller, states emphatically, “I don’t want to win an Oscar. I just want a chance to have people see this film.” Brock is not giving a poseur artist line about it all being about the work. She genuinely wants her labor of love out there for people to enjoy, and she has realistic expectations.

“This film is an underdog. I’m an underdog. We’re all out there just trying to make our way a little bit,” Brock continues. “That’s why I so connect to Wesley, and the story. All those kids in the movie are underdogs.” Brock refers to Wesley, played by William Lee Scott, the lead character in her film about a group of at-risk youth that finds purpose in forming a blues band. Brock knows about the ride of emotions associated with artistic undertaking, and how the same project can both lift you up and tear you down.

The process behind Killer Diller parallels story of the movie itself. Brock read Clyde Edgerton’s novel and “fell in love with the characters.” She decided she needed to turn the book into a movie and her ten-year odyssey began. Brock was not an at-risk youth herself, but she did put herself at risk by leaving a stable career in advertising to pursue her dream of making movies. After searching for years for funding Brock found financing in Texas, and the process turned from planning to producing.

“If you look up independent film someday, in one of those film compendiums, it should say independent film, and then it should just say, Killer Diller.” Brock refers to the lack of any connection to even the smallest studio or distributor. “They say Brokeback Mountain is an independent film. Oh, please; it’s Universal, it’s Focus Features. We’re nobody.”

Brock is not bitter. She is tremendously grateful for her opportunity and raves about the entire process. Brock has nothing but superlatives for her 26 days of production in mid-Missouri. Starting with the location: “The authenticity, the light, the green rolling hills…nothing like it exists in California or anyplace else.”

Brock assembled a stellar cast considering the budget, lack of studio affiliation, and fly-over location. William Lee Scott, Lucas Black, W. Earl Brown, Fred Willard, John Michael Higgins, and Mary Kay Place may not be A-list stars, but they are excellent actors that formed the basis of a tremendous ensemble effort. Brock describes them as “committed, raw, deeply hilarious, and solid.” Again she passes on credit, claiming the material brought her the talent. “If it’s not on the page, you’re not going to get them on the stage.”

Brock spreads the compliments to everyone involved, continually reinforcing the collaborative nature of the work. “Unbelievable. Great, just great. I found the energy people brought to work every day was why we were able to shoot the movie. Everybody just killed themselves.” She calls the man that led the crew, Director of Photography Matt Jensen, “a stone cold genius, a true partner.” Her enjoyment continued into the postproduction process; she refers to the editing room as “the last chance to tell the story.”

That wave of energy, good will, and enthusiasm ground to a halt as Killer Diller changed from a production to a movie. The film still had no distribution outlet after picture had been locked. The film was buoyed by good notices at two of the country’s most prestigious film festivals, 2004’s South by Southwest and Tribecca. A few offers came in, but they were not of the caliber her financial backers wanted, so they sat on the film—a time Brock describes as “agony; a long painful process.” Friends encouraged her to “let it go.” They felt the film had served its purpose, opening doors for Brock to make a living directing television series and commercials. But Brock did not see it that way. “I didn’t make this for me; I made it for all of us. It was my DP, it was my actors, the music, all of it. Everybody has a stake in it. It wasn’t just about me making a movie. I made it for people like me.”

After two years the decision was made to forge ahead without a distributor and get the film to the public. Brock is ecstatic as people throughout the Midwest will have a chance to see her “blood, sweat, and tears.” But the decision continues the film’s underdog independent existence, and Brock is OK with that.

“Wesley doesn’t get a record contract; he just wants a chance to play music. I just want a chance to have people see this film. At the end of the film, those kids are getting on a school bus, and they’re going to play a bar in Kansas City, and that is the greatest triumph for them. And for me having this film now open is a great triumph.” Brock pauses thoughtfully and then laughs. “I didn’t mean that, when I said ‘I don’t want an Oscar.’”

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