Writer, director, actor and producer Kerry Wallum, grew up riding bulls and roping calves in the rodeo until he was bitten by the acting bug.
“I like crashing. If they said, “Do it,” then I wanted to do it, it didn’t matter.”
“You just wake up and you think about something or you see something and you think, “Wow, that’d be cool.””
“One of the neatest things about our movies is our crew is never stressed out anymore.”
MATTIE RAE | JULY 15, 2015 | CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR PRINT COPY OF THIS ISSUE
Writer, actor and producer Kerry Wallum, grew up riding bulls and roping calves in the rodeo until he was bitten by the acting bug. With more than 60 films under his belt, he has acted and been a stuntman in some of the great movies including The Yearling (writers Majorie Kinnan Rawlings and Joe Wiesenfeld and director Rod Hardy), The Postman(writers David Brin, Eric Roth and Brian Helgeland and director Kevin Costner), and The Crow (writers James O’Barr, David J. Schow and John Shirley and director Alex Proyas).
His current ventures includes a collaboration with Willie Nelson in building the film production franchise Luck Films. He has also completed filming his latest projects Of God and Kings (writers Eleonora Maria Volpe and Alex Whitmer and director Joe Estevez), Hot Bath an’ a Stiff Drink 2 (writers Ryan Gaudet and Joseph Kanarek, and writer/director Matthew Gratzner), A Turn in the Sun (writers Rich Bryant, John Sherman Hicks, Abilgail McKay, John Douglas Rainey and Kyle Warren and writer/director David Von Roehm), andRum Runners (writer/director William Nelson).
When did you know that you wanted to be in film?
“Probably when I was in seventh grade. I did a play in seventh grade and really liked that. Then I rode bulls and roped calves forever. From that I converted over to doing some stunt work and this and that. I don’t know, I just loved the first one I got on and I haven’t gotten off since.”
So you grew up in rodeo?
“Yes, I rode bulls and roped calves for what seemed like forever. It’s cool while you’re doing it, but if you wake up feeling like I do, you wouldn’t think so [laughs]!”
Let us ask you about your stunts first. Your first stunt movie was The Young Riders?
“No, I did some stuff way before that. And then I did The Young Riders, and then I did a bunch of stuff. I did some of Lee Majors’ stunts.”
“Yes, I did some stuff with him in Bionic Ever After. It was a lot of fun! Lee and I have stayed friends, I talk to him about once every few months. I’ve done stuff with just about everybody.”
Of all your stunts, what was your favorite stunt?
“I can’t say there was a favorite. Back then I was liking everything I did. Just to be able to work – anything I could do! I like crashing. If they said, “Do it,” then I wanted to do it, it didn’t matter. After riding bulls, I liked to do anything that was kind of unbelievable.”
Tell us about your bull riding. Did you ever get hurt?
“Yes, quite a bit [laughs]. I broke a leg and an arm, my head…quite a bit of stuff.”
Did you ever worry about getting seriously hurt?
“No, I really didn’t. I’d think about it a little bit, but I guess when I was sitting down on the bull, all I could think about was him getting ridden, you know? I could ride them real good…but I couldn’t get off of them real good [laughs]. When I was rodeoing, I did some shows in Texas and stuff like that. But when Lane Frost came around in Texas, we could stay pretty busy. We could go to four or five shows a week.”
You’ve done about 30 films including the movie Cake: A Wedding Story.
“Yes, it was in California, and I was actually sleeping on a couch in the production office during that one. It was fun, I enjoyed it! I like the comedy stuff. It’s hard to do comedy, but I did it. I was Joe Estevez’s brother in that movie. He and I have been in 11 or 12 movies together – starring together.”
Do you like horror or do you prefer comedy or cowboy movies?
“I just want to do family movies now. All the family movies I can! And I want to do as many westerns as I can. I have a guy coming up today, we’re going to start filming a horror movie for four days and I’m just helping him out. I’m hoping this will be the last horror film I do – I just want to do westerns and family movies and stuff like that. Joe’s kind of feeling the same way. He’s the king of horror movies but he’s kind of getting that spiritual mood, you know?”
Yes, absolutely! We do want to ask you about one film that you did stunts in – The Crow.
“Yes. Actually, that was in Wilmington, North Carolina, and I just got to do a couple things in that. I left right after Brandon got killed and didn’t even know that they finished the movie until a few months later.”
And then you did The Postman? That must have been wonderful!
“Yes, I was on that for a few months. We stayed in tents for about 5 months while we shot that one. We were in Arizona for a while, then we went to Oregon for a while. Movies are just fun! But you know what, there are so many people in the movies. In one day there will be like 5 or 600 people; I don’t like a lot of people like that.”
Now you’re getting ready to do the stunts in A Turn in the Sun.
“We finished filming that, it’s done. I produced it and starred in it. A Turn in the Sun came about last year. It’s about a family of misfits. I’ll send you the trailer today. You can go to luck films on you tube. Me and Willie Nelson and a guy named David Von Roehm and another guy started a company called Luck Films. Yes, we started doing tons of videos and we’ve filmed some live shows. One time we even streamed live to Iraq and Afghanistan before anybody really knew you could do that. Anyway, David and I have been putting these movies out. In October or November, I finished producing a movie called Street that recently premiered in Vegas. These guys gave me an executive producer credit, which is not real bright, but I don’t care. Pretty much, the show looks really good. Bradford May directed it.”
We want to hear about Luck Films. How did that start?
“Yes, we actually started it quite a few years ago. We were at Willie’s little western town, Luck, Texas, filming in the studio there. I’ve worked with his daughter tons of times doing concerts around the United States and different things. So we’re in the studio with Willie and we were doing some songs and filming as we worked. Then after that we went to his little saloon and hung out a bit. Then someone said we should start a film company and start doing some work. Willie agreed and so we all started thinking of a name. We came up with all kind of dumb things, and then Willie just said, “Why don’t we just call it Luck Films?” So we named it Luck Films and started moving forward. Willie is a good man. Just a good, good man! Everybody thinks that you can just go out and get money off of his name and stuff, but you can’t do that and he wouldn’t want you to. It’s been hard getting stuff done, but we’re on a roll right now.”
How did you meet Willie Nelson?
“Oh geez…gosh I don’t even remember. I’ve known him for years. I think I started hanging out there because of Paula [Willie’s daughter]. Paula is one of my best friends. In fact she just sent me a picture of her goat yesterday. I gave her a goat about 5 or 6 years ago and she named it Annabelle. She takes in all these animals, and Annabelle kind of runs the roost.”
So you started Luck Films. What’s the future plan?
“What we’re doing now is we have two movies we’re doing right now. One starts the first week in June. Hopefully we get to do most of it in Wyoming. We are going to put out two to three movies this year. They are going to be low budget movies but we have theatrical distribution available as well as DVD distribution.”
A Turn in the Sun was made by Luck Films and K7T?
“Yes, mine and Willie’s partner, David Von Roehm, lives in New Jersey and runs Charter Tech Film School, so every film we do, we use his kids. The alumni as well as the kids who are still in school. It gets these kids working. We brought some of them down and filmed it. Joe [Estevez] stars in it, Richard Tyson, Michael Madsen, and Jeffrey Patterson. We had some good actors and locals from the town that we were in. It turned out really, really nice. It’s going to be good.”
It sounds awesome! Tell us the about the film Of God and Kings. You played Mario?
“Yes. A lady from New York came to me and told us that she owned it, that she wrote the script and things, so we got it together and filmed it and had Joe [Estevez] direct it for me. He did a great job! The lady who came to us loved it! It’s it’s still in the editing room,. It turned out that somebody else had actually written the film and owned it. We’re putting it out anyway — it’s almost finished.”
Does that happen a lot in film?
“Yes. We have these producers now that are really good with the guilds and this and that, and they check everything out. But somebody will bring a script, and when you look closer at the script then you find out it isn’t actually theirs. On the script of Of God and Kings, this lady told us she wrote it, but then I had a guy contact me out of Mexico that actually wrote the script. He said he felt like he was getting done wrong, so I made sure I put his name on there. Alex Swiffler. I checked him out and what he was saying is true. There are things like that all the time. Rance Howard told me the other day that they have an insurance company that gives them scripts. It has to go through the right channels, you know? Now I absolutely understand why.”
Tell us more about Luck Films.
“We’re doing big movies — like $20 million movies — for a million bucks. We’re doing these $500,000 or less movies and they looking like $10 million movies. They’re really looking good.”
Tell us about the film Junction.
“Junction is all done now. I got a copy of it a couple days ago and it turned out really nice. I don’t know what the actual main guy who wrote it and directed it and produced it is doing with it. He said he’s trying to distribute it some internet way. We did that in 6 or 7 days with 35mm film. That’s unheard of …a full feature.”
We have not heard of that!
“Nobody has. Rance Howard really good actors in it, and we did it in Barstow, California. The shots and the action in it is amazing. The story needs tightening up a little bit I think, but it looked really good. I’m just picky That’s why we’re doing our own stuff. Now I have the say so from start to finish – me and a couple partners. I don’t want to work under somebody else and say, “I think we should do this,” and then they take it another route. Now there is no other route. We have the say so from start to finish. We have distribution, we have everything, and it’s taken 40 years to get to this point.”
You also have Hot Bath an’ a Stiff Drink 2 coming?
“Jeffrey Patterson is another good friend of mine that is doing western movies. He has three in the can right now. He did that western Hot Bath an a Stiff Drink 1, and then I came down and started part two with it. It has Alison Eastwood in it, Frankie Muniz, Robert Patrick, really good actors in it, and it turned out really good. Jeffrey’s been doing that quite a bit. He has, I think two that he’s going to do this year. I’d say he’s doing a little bit higher budgets, and then I’m doing the lower budgets, but we’re doing the same type of movies.
“It’s about twin brothers – one’s bad and one’s good. One’s the law, and one’s an outlaw. Actually Jeffrey plays the lead role. He plays the twins. They filmed that in Tucson, Arizona. You should look up the trailer, it’s a great trailer! Jeffrey’s a single father in L.A., raising twin daughters that are 16, and he’s doing his movies. He works! He’s like us, he gets up early in the morning and goes to bed late at night and always has work on his mind.”
Tell us about Rum Runners.
“Rum Runners is a movie that a guy named Bill Nelson did in Washington. I play the part of Nick, who is a real character back in the 1920s. They were running rum back and forth between Canada and Washington. I went to the airport – I think it’s Spokane, Washington – where they have a statue of him. It was pretty cool, I played a real character, I was a mechanic and was in on the rum running deals. Back then, everybody was looking for him to either try to take over his business or like the law was trying to get him. We got to use old airplanes and Model A and Model T cars in this movie, and I think that’s just amazing! I like doing that kind of thing.”
And Blood Run Red?
“This is going to be our baby. It’s about a man who gets tired of society and moves to the mountains. There are some Indians on the other side of the hill who don’t want much to do with him, so my character pretty much sticks to himself, but every once in a while he’ll have to go to town to get a few supplies.
“On his way to town one time, he finds a young kid who’s been beat up pretty bad, almost dead. He brings the kid to the mountains and fixes him up, but needs help. He has go knock on the Indian’s teepee for help. And then the mob that tried to kill this boy finds out he’s alive and they start coming into the woods after everybody. It’s going to be a great movie. We thought it would be done really quick but we’re still writing it. Adam Visco Is finishing it up. It’s taken a year now.”
What inspires you to write a certain type of story
“People like Joe and me, sometimes we throw ideas out there, just like anybody else. You just wake up and you think about something or you see something and you think, “Wow, that’d be cool.” Then you start adding to it. We have a kid who’s working with us co-writing this story. He’s from Chicago, he’s 25, and I gave him a chance. I used him on Of God and Kings, I used him on a couple other movies as a PA, and then we sat down up here one day and he was writing some stuff down for us and we were like, “Man, you write pretty good.” So we came up with the idea and he started running for it. It’s starting to look really good. I mean, he’s a writer – that’s what he should have been all along.”
Are you married?
“No, I have a girlfriend, Kathy, that I’ve had for 14 or 15 years – somewhere around there. Through everything…we’ve tried to invest and lost money where people didn’t pay in what they said they would and all that. She’s just stuck by me forever. We know. You can’t explain it to people sometimes, but when you have someone who sticks by you that long and no matter what, it’s pretty awesome. On the last movie she catered for all 30 of us, by herself. Which was…oh man, it won’t happen again. She helps me out. She prints scripts out and kind of keeps me straight. I have about 40 different things I’m trying to do, and she helps keep me straight.”
How has the industry changed over the years?
“Oh man! Do you know how hard it is nowadays to get investors for independent films? It’s crazy! If you need money and you ask about investors then it gets spread all over that you’re a piece of crap. That’s hard to deal with! Finally we have some people who are getting behind this and we’re getting to go do these low budget movies. And we’re getting to travel and do them in different places.
“One of the neatest things about our movies is our crew is never stressed out anymore. We’re all relaxed and the work is all fun. We always get that one new kid who’s stressed and thinks he has to prove something, but after the first movie he realizes that we’re here to have fun. Then he’ll go and get on one of those big movies and they treat him like he’s a peon and it changes his attitude. I’m 52 now, and I did a stunt on this last movie. No big deal, I just had to get shot and fall into a grave and land on top of this other guy. I’ve known the other guy for years in the movies and I figured I’d let him fall first so I could land on top of him and it’d be softer [laughs]. As you get older you figure out ways around stuff. “
Are you happy with the movies you made so far?
“Very happy with them! When we did A Turn in the Sun, we did it for almost nothing. I mean really! And it looks like a really good movie so people don’t believe that we made it for that cheap. I have a friend who does a lot of Hallmark stuff and I told him we had a trilogy of good family movies that we are doing, he said, “If you can do one for under $300,000 I’d like to see it. I can’t even believe that!” He’s so used to doing them for $1 to $2 million all the time that he can’t see that our crew works twice as hard and gets it done. We get the same shots that they put in their stuff, you know?”
Do you also direct?
“I don’t direct. Everybody’s trying to tell me to, but I’ve only directed videos and some commercials. I don’t want to do features. I produce and star in, that’s all I’m going to do. I just don’t have the patience for directing. Everybody thinks I should because I have a good eye, but I just don’t want to. Joe Estevez has been trying to talk me into it for a long time.”
What is the most complex part of making a film?
“Post-production. From pre-production through production, we have it down pat. The music that I have written for it, I have so many musician friends in the world that getting the music put together is easy. I actually use a guy named Kelly Kenning to write the music. He is an amazing song writer
“But when it goes to post, it takes so long to get it done right – sound, editing, and other stuff. We’re low budget and we’re giving these kids some of their first features. You always have some kind of pro come in and help them with ideas but it takes a long time to get post done. We’ve been in post-production on A Turn in the Sun since August. And we filmed the movie in 9 or 10 days.”
What’s the best advice someone ever gave you?
“I think Willie gave me a couple lines the other day. I was feeling weird and I told him to give me some advice. One he said was, “Delete, and fast forward.” A lot of times you just have so much on your mind and different things that all you can do is delete it and fast forward. That made sense, so I’m putting it on my cards.
“The other one he wrote right after that was, “Don’t look back because they might be gaining on you.””
That’s great! Is there anything you want people to know about you or Luck Films?
“A couple years ago we invested in some stuff and then we had a guy rip us all off. Afterward, we were painted to look like the bad guys. I want to see everybody succeed, I don’t want to see anyone ripped off. But no one stops to think that I get ripped off as bad as anybody. I just want everybody to know, make sure what you’re doing and always make it right. Even if it takes 5 or 10 years, make it right.
“I don’t ever want to see anybody lose anything. That’s why we have our crew now. We’ve known these people for years, or we use these kids – the new ones – and we don’t let them get away with a bunch of stuff. We listen to each other and answer each other’s questions. You have to be able to trust who you work with.”
For more information about Kerry Wallum and Luck Films, go to www.luckfilms.com.