By Eric Campos | July 12, 2005

The documentary “Wamego” serves dual purposes. For the curious, it provides a behind the scenes look at Mike Patton’s feature film acting debut in Steve Balderson‘s “Firecracker.” But even more important, it serves as an in-depth lesson on DIY filmmaking as Balderson has documented every step of the “Firecracker” process. “Wamego” is a look at a filmmaking family doing whatever they must to get the show on the road…and they’re doing it all far outside the moviemaking industry of Los Angeles. And they’re doing it well. Imagine that.
Fresh from his feature length directorial debut, “Pep Squad,” which went on to premiere at Cannes and was nominated for numerous awards at several other film festivals, Steve Balderson decided to re-team with family members – father Clark Balderson (producer) and sister Brooke Balderson (actress and the lead in “Pep Squad), in Kansas to tell the tale of a true life murder that happened locally in Wamego. With the rest of the Balderson family chipping in, this tale would become the recently completed film “Firecracker,” starring vocalist Mike Patton (Fantomas, Tomahawk) and cult film star Karen Black. Rolling alongside Balderson’s film was a documentary crew (including Joshua Kendall, Joe Martin, Ed Leboeuf and even Steve Baldserson himself) revealing the tremendous work this family put into the making of this feature and it’s a wonder to watch how well they all interact with each other. A lot of families can’t stand to be in the same room together. This family’s making movies.
For those who enjoy watching the feature length documentaries on the “Terror Firmer” and “Citizen Toxie” DVDs as much as I do (I watch these more than the actual films), then “Wamego” is a must-see, not because there’s a bunch of s**t-talking and in-fighting going on (because there really isn’t any), but simply because it immerses you in the filmmaking process. There appear to be no secrets here, no major egos to contend with. In fact, several secrets of indie filmmaking are revealed right here, making “Wamego” an amazing how-to for filmmakers who think that they can’t get a film made because they don’t have all the help or resources they desire at their fingertips and even sillier, because they don’t live in Los Angeles. There’s a lesson to be learned from the Baldersons. It also looks like they have a damn good film on their hands, too.

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