PCR past banners Now in our fifth calendar year
PCR #205  (Vol. 5, No. 9)  This edition is for the week of February 23--29, 2004.

Florida Indies Film Review: "Not Another Student Film" 2003, A Full Sail Production.
 by William Moriaty
"The Passion of the Christ"
 by Mike Smith
"The Passion of the Christ"  by Nolan B. Canova
Indie Filmmaker Spotlight: Katherine Leis
 by Andy Lalino
30 Bands That Made The '80s NOT Suck, Part 3
 by Terence Nuzum
Neon Genesis Evangelion
 by Dylan Jones
Political Correctness in the Modern World
 by Nick King
Baseball Is Dead To Me....Cutting Kurt Cobain A Break .... FCC Squeezes Out The Sponge .... Slushpile....Things I Didn't Know But Probably I Should Have
 by Brandon Jones
Oscar Time....B.I.T.....Are You Kidding Me?...Movie News....Meet The Beatles, Part 6
 by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Indie Filmmaker Spotlight: Katherine Leis

Katherine Leis
Producer, director, actress, Katherine Leis
Those of you into the Florida independent film scene are not doubt familiar with filmmaker Katherine Leis. Katherine has the distinction of wearing different hats during the various productions she herself has conceptualized or worked on: actress, director, producer, screenwriter, etc. Few artists in the entertainment industry, male or female, can claim such a varied level of expertise or interest. Katherine distinguishes herself further by being one of the more prolific indie filmmakers on the scene - she's someone who gets things done.

Her films cross different genres: horror, drama, thrillers, but her favorite is comedy. She began her career as a model and actress, but soon became interested in working behind the camera. Currently, her impressive resume includes over a dozen shorts and features, and many TV appearances. I noted that Katherine was one of "Joe Bob's Girls"; her picture/link appears on Joe Bob Briggs' "Webchicks" section of his official website (she's pictured next to 'Scream Queen' Linnea Quigley). In the past few years she has started her own production company: IKO Productions, which has released the films spotlighted below.

Though Katherine has acted in different productions, such as J.D. Casey's still unreleased "We're Coming to Help", Greg Rivera's riveting serial "The Uninvited", and Jason Liquori's "008: The Job is Not Enough", I aim to focus on the films Katherine herself has produced and directed. As of this writing, there are four:

"There's a Caterpillar in My Bok Choy" (2002/03)
Bok ChoyKatherine kicked off her foray into producing/directing by helming a comedy of epic proportions! TACIMBC was more bizarre and slapstick than anticipated. The comedic action shifts gears, quite unexpectedly, from 'real life' to television skits/commercials. This is a unique perspective on which to base a feature-length motion picture on, and Katherine manages to sustain it throughout the entire film.

"...Bok Choy" features an sizable ensemble cast of over 30 actors, quite unusual for a Florida indie production. The cast seemed to have a ball portraying the various zany characters who are more cartoon than real. Katherine herself plays the lead role of "Delilah", an attractive young girl haunted by a bumbling stalker named Bill (Gustavo Flores). Delilah already has a boyfriend (John Caddigan) who really doesn't measure up to her expectations. Sprinkled throughout this relationship drama are the introduction of TV skits while Delilah and her friend Paige (played by two different actresses!) stare at the boob tube. Most of the comedic TV antics spill over into real life, manifesting into scenes of a Monkees-like ghost chase, a zombie break-in, and fights over papaya juice.

Highlights include two cartoonish "police officers" (called "Officer Dudes") who fight over a kid's fireman hat! One of the 'Officer Dudes' is played by Todd Thompson, director of "Time and Again" which won the main prize at the Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival last year. There's also a crazed soap opera featuring a loony nurse played by Judy Hannah, and a funny mother/son talk featuring actress Sheri Lawrence in a skateboard outfit!

Katherine has an ability to turn negatives into positives, smartly making fun of the fact that continuity errors abound in the production. I had to do countless double-takes, as I saw her handsome Alaskan Husky dog "Beeker" change positions from shot to shot!

The TV commercial parodies work well as a metaphor for "people not saying what they really mean", which Katherine claims in an interview that "Bok Choy" is primarily about. The film is also a comment about the world of low-budget filmmaking, where endless things can and do go wrong (just like relationships). With tighter editing and a more sensible running time, I believe TACIMBC would be a superior film. An admirable first effort; kind of a "Hotel New Hampshire" on crack!

Perspective (2003)
Perspective2003 was a productive year for Katherine. Her next behind-the-camera project was the heartfelt short film "Perspective", starring Joey Bassi, Sheri Lawrence (as a waitress named "Flo"!), and Barton Anderson. Joey, who has Down's Syndrome, plays "Mr. Niceguy" who decides to have lunch at the local eatery, where he encounters "Mr. Meanguy" (Anderson).

Mr. Meanguy, a laptop-slinging mover and shaker, makes luncheon difficult for Flo the waitress, gruffly sending back cold coffee and a thin-looking ham sandwich piled with unwelcome mayonnaise. Meanwhile, Mr. Niceguy observes the goings on, staring at Mr. Meanguy with an aloof smile, which further irritates him. At one point Mr. Meanguy nearly steals the paper Mr. Niceguy is quietly reading, preferring the "bad news" stories to the humanitarian blurbs that Mr. Niceguy noticeably takes interest in.

The end of the short puts things in "Perspective" (no spoilers here) and best of all, the viewer gets to watch Sheri Lawrence call someone a "Fink" after she's been stiffed! In addition to playing "Flo", Sheri served as Associate Producer. "Perspective" also marks the first and only time Katherine did not appear in her own production.

"Perspective" is nicely paced and short enough to be good, solid entertainment with a message. It suffers, however, on the technical end, when audio hiss becomes all-too-evident from shot-to-shot. A production having a star with Down's Syndrome inherently runs the risk of being patronizing, but "Perspective" easily manages to skirt by that bear trap; Joey plays an everyday nice person in which having Down's Syndrome is not integral to the story, and Joey is quite good in his role.

"Perspective" was an official selection of the Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival in 2003.

Run (2003)
RunTo this point, a major running theme of Katherine's films are women (usually played by Katherine herself) being watched or getting stalked. Poor Katherine! Even in the drama "Perspective", Mr. Meanguy takes a gander out the window, checking out the ass (in close-up) of a pretty young girl (Michelle Wargo, also in "Bok Choy") walking "Beeker" (Katherine's dog, who appears in most of her films) by the diner.

This theme really comes home in "Run", an effective thriller with a great twist ending. Katherine plays an attractive young girl who decides to take a late-night run - all alone. Inevitably she is stalked by a shadowy figure, culminating in a mind-blowing climax.

A strength of Katherine as a filmmaker is the use of pop songs in her films. The bands featured on the soundtrack, Agent 99 and the Shelly Winters Project(!), add production value to the piece and actually enhance the action.

The HypocritI consider "Run" Katherine's best film, but that may be my horror prejudice shining through. "Run" was an official selection of the "Saints & Sinners IV" film festival in 2003.

The Hypocrit (2003)
The importance of being a genuinely compassionate person is a topic explored in "The Hypocrit", a Twilight Zone-esque mirror of a movie concerning identical monologues about self-responsibility voiced by two different characters, in this case a couple. Like "Run", this has a twist ending (in both parables).

Katherine LeisWith such a burgeoning resume, Katherine no doubt aims to top herself in 2004. Her next project is "Afterthought", which deals with depression in young adults. She has a creative base that now should bring her the attention of investors and cast/crew talent, to take her production value to the next level. Katherine is also active in the statewide film scene, and has been an absolute gem supporting other independent filmmakers she associates with.

For more information about the films and career of Katherine Leis, log on to her official website:
or the website of IKO Productions:

"Oddservations" is ©2004 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All posters and images of Katherine Leis and her films are used here with permission. All other graphics, unless otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.