Independent film to premier November 13
by BETH ALTENA
They were confronted by Kent County Sheriff’s Deputies because someone thought they were grave-robbing in a local cemetery. “When you are wielding swords in a cemetery at night, nothing good is going on,” explained Kay Bouma.
Bouma was describing one of the adventures that went into filming an independent movie related to her book, The Mysterious Legend of Vladimir. The movie premieres November 13 at Kent Theatre in Cedar Springs. Vampire fans should show up early, and Bouma believes all who attend will be impressed at what can be done with a zero budget.
A children’s book explaining hemophilia was the first step in what may become a career as an author and independent film producer for Bouma. The 1978 Rockford graduate gave birth 11 years ago to twins with a severe bleeding disorder. She soon realized the condition was not generally understood and wrote a children’s book about it.
“I sold the book,” she explained about her entry into the life of an author. A pharmaceutical company purchased her story and uses it for education. That was Bouma’s first sale, now far surpassed in sales by a different kind of story.
Bouma e-published The Mysterious Legend of Vladimir on the self-publishing website Smashworks in April 2009 and its sequel that same spring.
“It hit the best seller list in two weeks and sold 2,000 copies the first year,” she said.
Cousin to The DaVinci Code author Dan Brown, Bouman said she has a modest job now and hopes to be able to write full time if her success continues. The two volumes together constitute a full-length novel, and rave reviews came from such unexpected sources as musician Michael Bublé.
“It’s a very different kind of vampire story,” Bouma said of her work.
Vladimir has a Smashworks reader rating of five stars, the highest. A review by Heather Sakosky at Suite 101 online describes the book as, “An incredibly worthy read and at only $2.95, it is affordable and accessible.” Descriptions of the story show that Bouma was successful in her attempts to give a new twist to an old topic.
Bouma said her interest in the world of vampires predates the current popularity of the Twilight movies. She said timing is important in the world of publishing, and hitting a popular genre when it is hot is among the factors authors should consider.
“It can be good or bad, depending,” she said. “Look at Harry Potter and the success of that. There was no one else writing about wizards then.”
In her case, she saw the Twilight movies and thought her book would be even better than Twilight if put to script. She then embarked on the next step of her vampire journey.
It took another six months to create a script for Vladimir the movie, and on a zero budget, filming it was challenging. Bouma said the movie was shot largely in Rockford and did raise some concerns for those who saw characters transported from the 1400s’ Transylvanian Alps. While filming in a small cemetery at the intersection of Ramsdell and Belding roads, someone called the police, thinking the group was robbing graves.
“The Kent County Sheriff’s Department was great. They about died laughing,” Bouma said of that encounter.
Bouma said her cast of characters filmed in a Bear Creek development home, in Townsend Park, and other locations in the area. She said the storyline is appropriate for young adults and there are no inappropriate or shocking scenes or vulgar language. She said she believes research is the most important step a would-be author should undertake, and her research of vampire lore was extensive.
“You’d be surprised how many people think vampires are real. For real, real,” she emphasized.
Bouma, despite her fascination with the legendary undead, does not really believe vampires exist or ever existed.
She said her story is different from most about vampires, and the movie is different than Vladimir the e-book. Filming was a whirlwind of weekend sessions with her volunteer actors returning to their day jobs on Monday mornings.
“We had people driving here each week from Detroit; from Ohio. They were dedicated,” said Bouma.
At one point the main character, just in from a different filming after working all day at his job, nodded off about 4 a.m. during filming. His snoring ruined the scene. “It wasn’t easy. The dog barked, the clock went off, the lead actor started snoring—there were lots of cuts,” Bouma stated.
Vladimir the movie has a website, vladimirthemovie.com, a trailer on YouTube and Facebook and Twitter pages. The premiere at Kent Theatre is November 13 with two shows, one at 10:30 a.m. and one at noon. Tickets are $5 at the door. Bouma and some cast members will be there, as will members of the Rockford High School student band Tribune, whose music is featured twice during the film.
Bouma said she hasn’t gotten wealthy despite the sales of Vladimir, but hopes any profits will go toward having a budget on her next project, which is in the works. “If people see what we have done with no budget, they will know we can do ten times more if we have some money for the next one,” she said.
For a first attempt in publishing and moviemaking, Bouma couldn’t be happier. In addition to the praise already lavished on Vladimir the e-book and on initial reactions to the movie, she believes she has a winner on her hands.
More proof that Bouma might soon be able to hang up her day job and pursue her passion full time: Vladimir the movie was just accepted to play at the Michigan Film Festival in Grand Rapids.