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Fayette extras get chance to see film

Thursday, June 10, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:51 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

The extras who have waited more than a year to see the movie filmed in Fayette last summer will now have a chance to look for themselves on the big screen.

The movie “Killer Diller” — originally named “Bottleneck” — is expected to be shown in Columbia on either July 12 or 14, depending on theater availability. It will also be in St. Louis on July 11 as part of the 4th Annual St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase at Landmark’s Tivoli Theatre.

Traci Albertson, assistant director of the Missouri Film Commission, said showing the film in Columbia was always the intention of the film’s director, Columbia native Tricia Brock.

“Tricia wanted to bring her movie back to her hometown,” Albertson said, adding that showing the film in Columbia was a joint decision between Brock and the film commission.

“She wants to show appreciation for the community for letting the film be shot here,” Albertson said. “We wanted to have a premiere because they shot it here in mid-Missouri, and normally films have a premiere in the town they were shot in.”

“Bottleneck” was changed to “Killer Diller” because that was the original title of the novel and screenplay on which the movie was based, said Michael Hirsch, assistant location manager for KD Productions and professor at Central Methodist College in Fayette, where several scenes were shot.

“A lot of people didn’t recognize the name ‘Bottleneck,’” said Hirsch, who was also the mayor of Fayette at the time of the filming. “They think of a traffic jam. ‘Killer Diller’ may sound like a gangster film, when in fact it’s an archaic term used to describe a hot blues player.”

The film is based on the novel by Clyde Edgerton in which a talented car thief and an autistic piano player meet a group of halfway house convicts and transform themselves into the Killer Diller Blues Band.

“Killer Diller” was first released in March at the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas. After being well-received in Texas, Hirsch said, the film was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on May 4, 7 and 8.

Hirsch, who is now a professor at Huston-Tillotson College in Austin, attended the local festival.

“I went to all three screenings of the movie,” Hirsch said. “The film received applause at the close each time, which is a very good sign. I would be in line waiting for the film early enough that I would see people walking out of the other films before they concluded.”

“I talked to a number of volunteer workers, whose only benefit of the job was to view the films, and they were planning on seeing it themseves,” Hirsch said. “I heard among workers that this was the only one they wanted to see.”

After the Tribeca Film Festival, two national distribution companies made the decision to look into “Killer Diller.” If it is picked up by one of the companies, it will be shown at theaters across the nation.

“Often times independent films are picked up by a film distributor,” Hirsch said. While the movie was well-received in Texas, Hirsch said, “there weren’t any vendors looking to pick up distribution there. After the Tribeca Film Festival, there are now two major distributors who are now looking very seriously at the film.”

Fayette schools superintendent Larry Leach, who went to the film’s casting call last summer with his family, said the experience of being involved with “Killer Diller” was fun, and he thoroughly enjoyed it.

“We were in the Founders Day scene for which they had cast thousands,” Leach said. “Our whole job was to sit in the crowd and make noise when they asked us to.”

Leach said the filming affected Fayette in all the right ways.

“It was a very positive experience for everyone in this community, in particular because we got to see how the film was made,” Leach said. “They even came into our classrooms and talked to the kids about the movie business.”


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