Interviews

Interview with writer/director/actor Andrew Bowser – channeling the soul of indie film

The works of Andrew Bowser serve as a uniquely poignant case study on the philosophy, methodology, style, and even presentation of independent film. He has worked in the “professional” filmmaking scene, but usually his titular characters share a thirst for acceptance that calls to artists working in the independent scene. Much like independent film, his characters are perennially overlooked and disrespected. They are visually and thematically posed with nothing going for them, as discounted and sometimes pathetic individuals. But it is precisely this derision and lack of expectation that drives them to excel. I was privileged to talk about his film’s focus on the outsider, as you will hear in the interview below. We get into the specifics of many of his films, but I also wanted to give each a brief introduction, including the most up to date information on where you can watch them yourself.

Interview with writer/actor/director Andrew Bowser - channeling the soul of indie film

The Mother of Invention (2009)
About to hit 18, this is Vincent Dooly’s last chance to win the Edison Award for young inventors. Every year he loses to Martin Wooderson, hammed marvelously by Jimmi Simpson. Vincent loses partially because he has less charisma and maturity than his rival, but partially because his inventions are ludicrously terrible. It’s not that Vincent is stupid, though his friends and family and teachers and doctors keep insisting such. It’s that his view of the world is so alien that he couldn’t understand it enough to make an invention by its rules. His creations are insane, sometimes childish attempts to solve problems and his behavior stays on the border between hilarious and disturbing. To the world, something is wrong with Vincent. He is to be pitied or made fun of, and the few who accept him only do so with reservation. Just the same, they can’t discount him completely. This stigma has given Vincent a drive to prove himself and that makes him compelling. To his friends and the audience, his tenacity in the face of every objective obstacle, like his lack of funding or understanding of even the most basic of science, makes you see how deeply he needs to get something right, even if just once.

Shot in a documentary style, Mother of Invention shows you the days leading up to the competition from the perspective of Vincent and the people in his life. Not afraid to shy away from how awfully he would function in modern society, Mother of Invention knows how to be funny, empathetic, hopeful, and frightening in a number of subtle shades. As with most of Andrew’s films, you can watch it for free, in this case on Tubi at the link here: Mother of Invention full film.

Jimmy Tupper vs. the Goatman of Bowie (2009)
Jimmy Tupper asks the question of what would happen if the most inept person possible were hunting the Blair Witch. After his friends leave a blackout drunk Jimmy in the forest, he claims to have encountered a human/animal hybrid, and is laughed off as an idiot. On its own this would be a callous, dangerous thing to do, but for Jimmy it’s the last straw in a long line of insults, and this time he is determined to prove that he’s right, no matter the cost.

This found footage horror-comedy draws its humor from how Jimmy goes about this hunt, and the drama comes from why he does this. You see, Jimmy has never gone hunting or camping. He doesn’t understand how to take care of himself in the wilderness, or how to attract or trap an animal. His best attempts to find and trap the goatman are terrible plans that are more likely to get him killed than serve his goals. But the more we see how people treat Jimmy, and the more we learn the course of his life, the more we see why he would go to such lengths to find the cryptid, even knowing that he might not survive it. The found footage style adds to both the comedy and horror elements. Jimmy feels like so many people we all know, who never made it out of their home towns, and asks what would happen if they got the chance to do something remarkable. You can find Jimmy for free at the Youtube link below.

Jimmy Tupper VS The Goatman of Bowie (FULL MOVIE) | 2010 | Indie Horror | SXSW Premiere

Worm (2013)
Worm is an achievement that fans of action HAVE to see before they die. Filmed in two continuous takes on a camera facing the main character, Worm is a mystery crime drama following one man’s quest to clear his name, escape gangsters and law enforcement, and protect his family from a collapsing situation. Andrew is on camera every second as Worm, the small time criminal, who just barely manages to squeeze out of every jam. He begins the film as a directionless, poor father scraping to get by. From his daughter’s mother to the local police to the similarly small-time criminals in their nameless rural town, no one expects him to succeed. To look at how much he’s struggling with no successes, it’s hard not to feel that way yourself. But as the situation unravels, and we learn how deeply some of these people are willing to hurt him, Worm is the only one who keeps his cool and acts with direction.

The acting, plot, and stunts all weave a tense and deep narrative, but all of that serves to bolster how impressive it is that something this ambitious exists at all. Coordinating the number of locations, individuals, scenes, and stunts in two takes is a work of unimaginable complexity, and Worm manages to pull it off without a single flub. What Worm lacked in budget it made up for in audacity, all wrapped together in a story built around the kind of paranoid energy the action focuses on. At the low cost of free, you can watch it at the Youtube link below

Worm - Feature Film

Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls (2023)
After years of tribulation in other funding sources, the Kickstarted Onyx the Fortuitous and the Talisman of Souls exceeded Andrew’s other films by several orders of magnitude. Featuring wonderful work by Jeffrey Combs, Olivia Taylor Dudley as both co-star and executive producer, and some of the finest puppetry this side of Farscape by Adam Dougheryt, Onyx’ step up in production values didn’t blunt its focus on the underdog at all. A small-town Satanist, Onyx has his life turned upside down by an invitation to the mansion of Bartok the Magnificent (Combs), for a night of demonic surprises.

Both Andrew and his character Onyx spent many years in shorts on Youtube before jumping to this feature, something that has brought hints of derision from some film critics. If a filmmaker is well-liked, consistent, and experimental it doesn’t count if their films are posted to Youtube, apparently. Joel Haver has talked about similar stigma on Letterboxd [link to article], but that is a story for another time. Onyx the Fortuitous brings all the lessons of its three predecessors, punching far above its weight considering the budget. Its production quality and team created something funny, creative, and worthy of the years of build-up that fans of the Youtube series would be able to appreciate. Onyx is available on Youtube, Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and the Roku channel. Keep an eye out for more on the Kickstarter, or the Bowservids Youtube page.

Senior Tabletop Editor | [email protected]

John Farrell is an attorney working to create affordable housing, living in West Chester Pennsylvania. You can listen to him travel the weird west as Carrie A. Nation in the Joker's Wild podcast at: https://jokerswildpodcast.weebly.com/ or follow him on Bluesky @johnofhearts

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