Stephen Kessler has spent a lifetime in pursuit of laughs. “As a kid, I was very influenced by comedians like Woody Allen, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin,” says the boyish-looking director. “In my teens, I started to watch movies of directors like Scorsese, Coppola, Cassavettes, Sidney Lumet, Sidney Pollack — the usual. I also loved the ‘Bad News Bears.'”
Kessler was writing TV commercials when he discovered his calling as a film director. “When I would go to the set, I would say to myself, well, I see what the cameraman is doing, and I see what the guy carrying the cables is doing — but what is the director doing? He’s just standing there drinking an Evian. And I knew I could do that.”
His directing debut, The Independent, tells the tragic tale of B-Movie producer Morty Fineman, the man behind 427 films. Jerry Stiller plays Morty, sort of a combination of Roger Corman and Lloyd Kauffman, whose 30-year career in movies may come to an abrupt halt due to financial problems. His daughter Paloma, played by Janeane Garofalo, tries to set the business, and dad, on the right path to save the company. The Independent is a hysterical comedy epic resulting in one of the year’s best “independent” films.
While lampooning the world of B-Movies, Kessler’s The Independent reads like a heartfelt love letter to cheesy, direct-to-video, exploitation films. A love letter filled with total nudity, raw sex and bloody violence, of course.
Get the interview in part two of B-MOVIE BONANZA: TRUE “INDEPENDENT” STEPHEN KEssLER>>>