How many Bond films are there, really? Should fans count “a Pepper for Tomorrow” as canon? Wait a minute! What is “a Pepper for Tomorrow?” (The Bondumentary on the making of this film premiered at Bond Weekend III.)
Safe to say, few reading this interview have heard yet of “the Pepper”, because it’s the low/no budget, fan-made thriller nobody’s been talking about. The teaser trailer is out and boasts a funny and entertaining look at a beloved secret agent whose next film “premieres nowhere” on January 1, 2000. He dives from a plane, dodges a speeding car, is karate-kicked through a room and stops just long enough to save billions from being deprived of a critical carbonated beverage.
The incredible spoof “a Pepper for Tomorrow,” made by Dean Williams’ Backburner Productions, gives fans more than just a seriously self-parodying full-length movie. Dean has built his own giant Ken Adam-ish 007 set, crafted his own Bond gadgets and Bond car, plus has a line of creative merchandise including posters, detailed action figures, and everything you could wish for in a 007-ly advertising campaign.
The strange and wonderful world of “Deano” Williams is seen best in his latest 50-page magazine, “Tasty Film Previews” or on the movie trailer, behind-the-scenes and sample footage I have been pressured? privileged? to watch. The line between fantasy and reality is often blurred for Mr. Williams and the BackBurner crew. I recently corralled a busy Dean long enough for an exclusive interview (no one else would take him!) to get a few straight answers from him along with the humorous take on everyone’s favorite agent and the bizarre and entertaining world of BackBurner productions.
Matt Sherman: Explain to our 007Forever readers who you are, anyway?
“Deano” Williams: Basically I am nobody.
Matt: Can you be less specific?
Dean: I am just one fan in a million who spends his spare time creating Bondian stuff. I am fortunate to connect to other fans via the awesome Forever website. Fellow fans will want to check out my newest movie, “a Pepper for Tomorrow” and if I’m extra lucky they will find a belly laugh or two in it.
Matt: What made you decide on your own Bond movie, Deano?
Dean: Well, I had always been a Bond fan since I was a kid, it wasn’t until later that I became what you would call a serious fan/collector. [Note: Dean’s home office is plastered over with countless original stills, posters, standees and books in mint condition.] As a hobby I also made movies growing up, and had always wanted to do a Bond spoof, but friends who were appearing in my films weren’t deeply into Bond like I was. So it wasn’t until recently that I was able to finally make a two-hour Bond epic of my own.
Matt: Why choose “a Pepper for Tomorrow”?
Dean: I actually started to write a more serious spy script, but I soon realized that it would be a kind of sacrilegious in general, as well as logistically impossible, to make a serious low-budget Bond movie. It would turn out looking like crap, and I’ll leave that action to Mr. Kevin McClory, thanks. So I decided to create a spoof that is funny yet pays tribute to the series that has so inspired me all these years. I think Messrs. Cubby and Fleming are my biggest influences, and I’m glad EON has in place Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli to carry on the best film series ever!
Matt: Explain some of the logistics of undertaking a major, yet minor film.
Dean: We worked for weeks to cover over a large basement with paper, computer equipment, indoor plants, cut foam, camera tricks, etc., to make something out of a hidden volcano or underground lab. There is a delightful two-second moment in GoldenEye, for example, where they show a large screen displaying the tracking of General Ourumov’s stolen GoldenEye satellites. I captured the screen shot to tape by holding it in a loop for two hours, so that just one of the many monitors in the villain’s control room set has something cool to display during the film.
We got that serious about details, like hand-painted working elevators, gun display racks, filming our own stunts, creating a whole casino for Jerry [Soules, the sixth and cheapest 007] to confront Bruce [Holmes as Emilio Pepperfinger] in, working out complicated martial arts routines shot from different angles, knives, training and makeup for the lovely-yet-deadly female leads, scouting indoor and outdoor locations for people to hold gunplay in, etc., etc. Somehow typical supermarket shoppers become uncomfortable having massive explosions triggered in the parking lot while screaming people run past their carts with automatic weapons. Plus I had to drink a six-pack of Dr. Pepper each day for six months so we had enough empty cans to throw stuntmen into spectacularly and decorate the set. That’s commitment.
Matt: Jerry Soules was an unusual, if not inspired, slightly inane casting choice for 007. How did you choose him for the coveted role of the sixth James Bond?
Dean: We thought, why go the usual route? Why not a Bond who wears eyeglasses? Plus, he fit the tuxedo we had found at a thrift store for $3, and he was the only one who would act on film for free. Jerry is a good friend and he did an excellent job as Bond, I think.
Matt: Savvy viewers can guess at some of the movie magic in “Pepper.” But there is a crucial dramatic moment in the trailer when Jerry as 007 fires his handgun in the snows of the “Arctic.” You have slowed down the frames to show the shells dislodging from his gun as Bond blasts away at the bad guys. How did you get blank firing replicas to portray so real on film?
Dean: Blanks? Oh no, that’s live ammo, baby! (On some shots at least.) I went to our local gun shops and pawnshops to purchase blanks, and they insisted that we fill out numerous trifling forms–quite discouraging! “Blank-firing guns are a pain,” they said. “But if you want real guns, no problem.” We just had to time carefully certain things, so that actors in supporting roles didn’t get their heads blown off when Jerry shot at or near them.
Matt: How did you deal with pressures on the set?
Dean: We consumed mass quantities of Starbucks Coffee each morning, as advertised in the Tasty Film Previews magazines. It was an added bonus that Austin Powers grabbed our idea, after the fact! The greatest pressures came when actors playing key roles quit the set. As mentioned in TFP, Robin Williams was chosen for a part in my next film for $11 million and points, but jumped out when we at BackBurner counter offered ten dollars as our best alternative. Pressure is a part of the movie-making industry, no doubt.
Matt: You didn’t just stop with a Bond movie, you made posters, action figures, a magazine, all type of fan consumption things, explain those. People think you are slightly insane, yes? Has anyone questioned your awareness of reality?
Dean: Most people think I am nuts, which I might agree with, but I enjoy making something that is not insane, something serious and artisan. In this case I have made a small-to-no-budget movie and created other forms of media to help parody, in an honorable way, a large budget Hollywood release. I spent four man-weeks building a set for the movie, and we made our own props and costumes, besides movie makeup, lighting, special video effects, soundtrack and stunts. More recently, I finished making an action figure of my friend Jerry Soules in his Bond role. I have had a talented friend, Hunter Hadaway, compose and record to CD the soundtrack for “Pepper,” and I am working on a making-of book that dwells on the humorous start-to-finish stories while making the movie together. All that, to most people, may be taking things too far, but to me that’s the fun of it. I just get very into making it look as though it’s a real movie, and the magazine [Tasty Film Previews] I think, shows that attitude the best.
Matt: Tasty Film Previews: Issues 1 and 2 were a hoot. Tell us more about the concepts involved?
Dean: In brief, a fellow movie-making friend of mine, Kyle Warnick, joined me in starting a production company, BackBurner Entertainment. [An ironic name, hailing from the many projects Kyle and Dean have idling always on their back burners.] We were both working on our own movie projects which friends would inquire about frequently, thus a small newsletter was birthed, with myself being a graphic designer–I went overboard by turning a four page newsletter into a full-blown 60-page magazine on glossy stock, with color cover! Now the mags have landed in the hands of people we don’t even know, which is interesting, I didn’t understand why people would care about the little world we were creating, but people seemed to think it was funny and right on target. Some people thought we were full of our selves for having a magazine all about us and BackBurner, but they fail to realize the origin of the mag, which bluntly serves as a job resume for a couple of hopeful film grad students!
Matt: The latest issue of Tasty Film Previews has a very abundant theme of Mr. Bond, is that a sign of things to come?
Dean: Actually yes, the latest issue of TFP focuses on our latest movie project, the full Bond spoof, which leads to one of my latest endeavors–a new underground Bondzine called “Largo”. I got a surprising, warm reception with the latest issue of TFP and thought it would be a good idea to do something that focused on Bond, nothing but Bond.
Matt: What exactly is under the covers of Largo?
Dean: Basically it will be an underground fan-made Bond magazine, only this mag will be much more humorous and light-hearted in scope. I don’t claim to be a Bond expert like you [Matt: “Who is claiming?” Laughter…] and therefore I don’t think my mag should be that direction. It will be a fanzine for Bond fans, there are a lot of very fine and serious Bond mags out there, I just want to do something a little different. TFP cost me about $6.50 per issue to get the look and feel I wanted, which basically means I’ve gone broke doing something just for the fun of it, which will probably happen with Largo as well–but I look ahead to fans enjoying the magazine.
Matt: What are some of your other projects?
Dean: I make a lot of homemade Bond wannabe items, not to sell but just as personal to-do projects. I just finished repackaging my entire set of soundtrack CDs into this cool box, which I created as a “complete set”. I re-did all the CD spines to display the gun barrel and gun logo when they are together in order, it looks like a very cool 007 boxed set. I also have other faux Bondian products on my pet list, such as a life size Jaws’ standee, but right now I am trying to finish the Bond movie in the editing room, which has fallen on bad luck, but all of that is in the latest issue of TFP.
Matt: Will “a Pepper for Tomorrow” meet the promised January 1, 2000 release date?
Dean: Hmmm, I’ll just say it’s not looking good at this point!
Matt: How can people see the great teaser trailer or the magazines you made for your Bond movie?
Dean: Well, unfortunately I’m still at work on the debut issue of Largo, and I have no idea when it will be finished, but if anybody is interested in the Pepper for Tomorrow teaser trailer or copies of the Tasty Film Previews mag they may certainly contact me. In fact, if anyone has something they feel might make a good entry for the Largo mag, send it to me and I’ll consider putting it in, after all it is a Bond fan mag! I hope to launch a website soon so fans may download the trailer and showcase the mags, and also showcase other fan-made material, but time has prevented me from so doing.
–To contact DeanWilliams or learn about upcoming BackBurner projects, write Dean and company at BackBurner Productions. We will feature multimedia downloads from the new film as they arrive at 007Forever.
Let us know about your pet Bond projects for the Collectors’ Corner at Rounding The Corner.
–Matt Sherman is Assistant Editor of 007Forever, which means he can star in Dean`s next movie if he earns a SAG card and learns how to act.