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An Investigation into Strawberry Estates PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Dec 14, 2004 at 07:00 PM
"Red File 66-095: Strawberry Estates" is the hot new horror movie from our own web master, Ron Bonk! Much like his last movie, "the vicious Sweet", "Strawberry Estates" is certain to be another important low-budget hit!
Anyway, it was difficult to do with his busy schedule, but we sat Ron down for a quickie interview. Here's what he had to say about his latest work!
Dark Gallery) What is the basic story of "Strawberry Estates"?
Ron Bonk) With financing from his local college, Professor Jonathan Laurel takes an expedition into the infamous Smith Gerrit Building (nicknamed Strawberry Estates because wild strawberries used to be plentiful in the woods around it) – a supposedly haunted insane asylum with a dark history. Three days after entering, the expedition disappeared without a trace. All of the movie is shot documentary style, and the tape we see not only documents what transpired over those three days, but also provides the only clues to the mystery of what ultimately happened to the group.
DG) What happened to the original "Strawberry Estates"?
RB) Well, I shot the original "Strawberry Estates" in Jan. 1997, 5 mos. After making "the vicious Sweet". I was in the midst of editing "Vsweet" – which didn’t end up being done until Summer of 1997. It was a bad decision for me to go back into directing that soon after "Vsweet". Producing was fine, and I was working on "Gut Pile" with Jerry O’Sullivan at the time. But I was not ready to direct again that soon. "Vsweet" had drained me physically, mentally, emotional – in every way. But I needed a break from it – so when Jerry wanted to take a break from "Gut Pile" I decided the time was right to dust of the old "Strawberry Estates" script and make it. It was a decision made and executed in like two weeks. I grabbed the script, found a location, cast and started shooting it almost that fast! I knew looking over the script, which was already two years old at that time, that it needed a rewrite. It was a great idea, but it was amateurish, and filled with long, long, long chunks of dialogue. It was written in a different time of my life. But I decided I was going to do it anyway. I went through it and changed just a little bit a dialogue and shot it as is. I knew by the end of the first weekend of shooting it wasn’t turning out to be what I originally intended it to be. Suddenly, it was a comedy, a spoof of itself before it was even made. The characters were mean, unlikable, idiots. But it was costing me almost nothing to make it, and I figured I would finish it now that it was started and make a final decision once it was done. Well, we finished, we had a great time – it was the most fun I ever had on a shoot - but once I looked at it I knew it was better off just not seeing the light of day. It served its purpose – it gave me that much needed break and restored my mental well-being. And honestly, if I had cut it together, most people would have thought it was a decent movie. It just wasn’t the movie I had wanted it to be. So I figured I would remake it one day. Well, in 1999, with the success of Blair Witch, I figured the time was now or never!
DG) How did it feel to go back and reshoot it?
RB) It felt good – since "Vsweet", things had not proceeded production-wise as I had planned. "Vsweet" became a big hit, and along with some other things, like the web site, it helped my company’s growth just ballooned out of control. I no longer had the time to just make movies. "Gut Pile" started off great, but then the schedule Jerry had planned out changed – he originally expected to have more time off from work to be able to wrap it up. But then "Gut Pile" production started to drag. I shot the original "Strawberry Estates" and it didn’t come out right. I then went to work on projects that weren’t mine – projects that weren’t bad, some even very good, but still were not as interesting to me as if they were my own. So I felt like I just total got off track. Shortly after "Vsweet", there were some developments in my personal life that took me a long time to get over, and they really affected my drive when it came to the subsequent work. The original "Strawberry Estates" is where I point to when I think back to when things kind of took a major turn away from where they seemed to be heading. So by going back to "Strawberry Estates", reshooting it, I feel like I have gone back and fixed what went wrong, and now I can finally get things back on track by repair the first mistake. Now I’ll make sure "Gut Pile" gets that final cut it needs and gets out there, and then work on wrapping up those other projects sitting in hiatus, before finally getting to work on some new, fresh, material. And I truly feel, especially with how happy I am with the new "Strawberry Estates", that things are back on track. My original intentions for getting into all this was to be a filmmaker - but in order to make movies, I had to make sure these movies sold. So I became a distributor. And that ended up working out so well it consumed most of my time. Now I’m still just as busy, but I refuse to be a distributor the rest of my life. So now I am affording more time to making movies. It’ll cost me more money in the long run, may even jeopardize the company at times, but I think the possible outcome is better – the hope that one day I can make movies full time, not sell them full time for the rest of my life. If I get my way, I’ll be making movies and Sub Rosa will continue to distribute them and everyone else’s and we’ll all make money!
DG) Why should we expect from the new "Strawberry Estates"?
RB) I’m very happy with the script. I really polished it, so what’s in their both supplies the answers to what is really happening at the building, but also lends itself to the mystery of what is happening there. I mean, a lot of what is theorized about what is happening there is far from the truth, but I put it in there in a way that I allow the viewers to decide what is true and what is not. With a movie like this you can’t supply all the answers, or make the real answers completely obvious, or you lose the realism. Basically, what you think might be true isn’t. But like "Vsweet", the line of what is real and what is not gets blurred, and ultimate the viewers can decide, even argue, over what is the truth.
DG) Are you happy with it now?
RB) Yes, like I said, most definitely. I’m not sure how fans will respond with Blair Witch having come out and already laid claim to being the first and the standard for this type of horror movie. But I’m happy with it, and I think the fans will appreciate it.
DG) Anything else you can tell us about "Strawberry Estates"?
RB) "Strawberry Estates" is more complicated than it appears. First and foremost, it is a movie – a horror movie – that hopefully will give you a few scares and you’ll have a fun time viewing it. But it’s deceptively simple – there’s a mystery to be solved there, and a lot of the clues are in there. And there’s a series of levels to it too. I guess that sounds kind of pretentious, but I’m really not trying to be. I just wanted people to know that when I wrote it, I did layer in certain ideas. For one, the whole movie is a nod/ode to b-movie makers the world over – especially those who shoot on video. It pokes fun at the simplicity that moviemakers take advantage of and/or abuse when shooting on video. There’s also a message about religion – I grew up Catholic so it does show up in almost all my scripts – valid arguments that support and deny it (the idea that there really is a "God" – an all-powerful being that watches over us). I mean, at one point, the cameraman mocks the idea that someone can live a whole life of sin then on his death bed declare his sorrow and be forgiven. But little does he know that by the end of the weekend, in a symbolic sense, he will do just that – and whether or not he is "forgiven" is questionable. And then there’s a whole symbolic sub-plot about society in general – the characters each represent a part of society – and how we treat each other and the world in general. The dialogue is all scripted, and much of it is in there to convey a purpose or to start a thought in motion. And the shots, though improve in nature, are really blocked out by and large. It’s all designed to create certain feelings in the viewer. Like some characters are framed together early on than later kept separate. Some characters are positioned in dominating positions over others. I could go on and on, but thankfully to all of the readers, I won’t! All I’ll say is by and large, it was all plotted but not to the degree that you would notice – more in a way you sub-consciously know it and it helps mold what the feelings you get from the movie at certain points in the plot. Anyway, to make a long story short, my whole point to fans is 1) watch the movie and enjoy it; but then 2) when little thoughts creep up later – whether about plot, clues, the general mystery, religion, or any of the hidden messages I put in there – then let them creep up and explore them for awhile. "Strawberry Estates" is a movie the fans can truly make their own and create their own answers for – so please do!
Watch for some more interviews/articles on "Strawberry Estates" soon!

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