Steve Balderson circa 2003
January 19, 1975 |
Stephen Clark Balderson (born January 19, 1975) is an American film director.
Balderson was born in Manhattan, Kansas and raised in nearby Wamego, Kansas until the age of twelve, when his family moved to Manhattan. Balderson attended Manhattan High School. Though his class attendance was poor, Balderson graduated a semester early, ahead of his peers. He refused to walk the stage and accept his diploma, opting out of the graduation ceremony altogether. The administration asked if he would like his diploma mailed to him. He responded, "I'll never need it."
Balderson attended film school at California Institute of the Arts, where he directed six full-length digital movies, including a screen adaptation of Anne Rice's novel The Vampire Lestat. At the end of his third year at CalArts, Balderson realized he'd never had a mid-residency review. When he asked his dean, Hartmut Bitomsky, Bitomsky answered, "Master's students don't have mid-residency reviews." When Bitomsky learned Balderson was an undergrad, he instructed Balderson to stop going to his classes and instead, to do independent study with him. Once a week the two would meet and dissect Alfred Hitchcock films and Steve learned how to focus his vision. After months of working one-on-one with his dean, Balderson decided he was ready to leave CalArts without graduating.
After leaving CalArts in 1996, Balderson returned to Kansas and directed his debut feature film. Pep Squad satirized and predicted American school violence prior to the horrific series of school shootings. After the era of school violence ended in the United States, Pep Squad was released on DVD.
Balderson’s award-winning second feature film, Firecracker, was released theatrically in 2005 to sold out audiences in a first-ever "Freak Show Tour" supervised by Landmark Theatres, the nation’s largest art house chain. Film critic Roger Ebert called it "Brilliant" and gave Firecracker a Special Jury Award on his list of the year's best films.
Hailed as a "masterpiece" and "told by a story teller who has a nascent finger on the pulse of contemporary cinema," Firecracker features the acting debut of alternative music icon Mike Patton and the critically acclaimed comeback of Academy Award nominee Karen Black. Also starring are Susan Traylor, Pleasant Gehman, Jane Wiedlin, Selene Luna, The Enigma, George the Giant, Jak Kendall, Brooke Balderson, Amy Kelly, and Lobster Girl Cathy Berry, daughter of Lobster Boy Grady Stiles.
Firecracker premiered at London’s Raindance Film Festival, where it won a Jury Prize nomination for Best Picture. It also won numerous awards on the festival circuit worldwide including: Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Actress for Karen Black, and Steve Balderson won the 2005 Domani Vision Award for emerging talent at Tribeca’s Visionfest.
Watch Out is the story of Jonathan Barrows, a man who falls in love with himself. He is attracted to his own body, carries out an erotic relationship with a blow-up doll that resembles him, and takes pleasure in rejecting the advances of male and female admirers. He descends into a world of carnivorous priests and Prozac-popping Polish prostitutes and eventually assassinates the world's most popular pop diva.
The film was shot without permits on location in Kansas. Starring Matt Riddlehoover and co-starring Peter Stickles (Shortbus), B-movie actor Jeff Dylan Graham, Amy Kelly, Jon Niccum and burlesque performer Lady Monster.
Watch Out premiered at the Raindance Film Festival in London. It was released theatrically in the "Stop Turning Me On" world tour in New York (Coney Island Film Festival), Nashville, Chicago, Washington D.C (Reel Affirmations Festival), Seattle (Lesbian & Gay Film Festival), San Francisco, Asheville, Charlottesville (Virginia Film Festival), Kansas City, Lawrence KS, Austin (Alamo Drafthouse), and Los Angeles.
Stuck! is Balderson’s homage to film noir women-in-prison films. The movie, photographed in black and white, was produced in Macon, Georgia, during April and May 2009. The film stars Karen Black, Susan Traylor, Jane Wiedlin, Mink Stole, Stacy Cunningham, Starina Johnson and Pleasant Gehman. It’s the story of Daisy, an innocent young woman framed for killing her mother. Condemned by the press and the public, Daisy is found guilty of murder and sentenced to die by hanging. The screen play was written by Frankie Krainz.
Stuck! premiered at the 2009 Raindance Film Festival in London, England. Currently on the festival circuit, the film is an official selection of the following film festivals: Skeive Filmer in Oslo Norway; The Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival; The Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival; 2009's REELING (the Chicago GLBT Film Festival), 2010 Macon Film Festival and the 2010 Boston Underground Film Festival. On February 3, 2010, Stuck! premiered at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles. The special event was hosted by the American Cinematheque. In grand Hollywood tradition, the after party and dinner was held at Musso & Frank Grill.
The Casserole Club
The Casserole Club stars Susan Traylor, Jane Wiedlin, Kevin Richardson, Daniela Sea, Michael Maize, Starina Johnson, Garrett Swann and Pleasant Gehman, among others. It was filmed in the fall of 2010 on location in Wamego, Kansas and Indio, California. The screen play was written by Frankie Krainz.
The film premiered in New York City at Visionfest`11 in June collecting 9 Independent Vision Award nominations and winning 5 for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Kevin Richardson, Best Actress for Susan Traylor, and Best Production Design for Steve Balderson. The other award nominations were Best Writing for Frankie Krainz, Best Original Score for Rob Kleiner, The Jack Nance Breakthrough Performance Award for Jennifer Grace, and The Abe Schrager Award for Cinematography for Steve Balderson.
Culture Shock is the third collaboration between Steve and screenwriter Frankie Krainz. The film was produced in October 2011 entirely without permits in Kansas City and in London, England. The story centers around four twenty-somethings, played by Starina Johnson, Mark Booker, Nic Roewert and Holly Hinton who travel to the UK for a backpacking holiday only to be caught up in a murder. They are followed by a detective, played by Damien Gerard, who is trying to solve the case. However, all is not as it seems.
Far Flung Star
Far FLung Star is the forth collaboration between Steve and screenwriter Frankie Krainz. The film was produced in early 2013 on location in Los Angeles and Hong Kong. It premiered at the Raindance Film Festival in 2013. The film is an action-adventure and was released exclusively as a streaming Vimeo On Demand.
Filmed in 2013, Occupying Ed is the first collaboration between screenwriter Jim Lair Beard and Mr. Balderson. The film premiered at London's Raindance Film Festival in 2014.
Co-directed with Texas native Elizabeth Spear, Hell Town is a melodrama and soap opera style horror film. Currently in post-production.
Produced entirely on location in Los Cabos Mexico in 2014, the experimental drama stars Susan Traylor, Anslem Richardson and Mark Booker. Currently in post-production.
Balderson’s attention to detail and work ethic is chronicled in the award-winning documentary series Wamego. Wamego: Making Movies Anywhere was released in 2004 on DVD, Making Movies Anywhere won Best Film at the 2005 Fox Film Festival and the 2004 Kan Festival Award. Wamego Strikes Back, the sequel to Making Movies Anywhere, was released in 2007. The third installment, Wamego: Ultimatum chronicles the making of Watch Out. To celebrate its 10-year anniversary, Wamego: Making Movies Anywhere" was re-released complimentary on Vimeo in September 2014.
- El Ganzo (feature, 2015)
- Hell Town (feature, 2015)
- Occupying Ed (feature, 2014)
- The Far Flung Star (feature, 2014)
- Culture Shock (feature, 2013)
- The Casserole Club (feature, 2011)
- Stuck! (feature, 2010)
- Wamego: Ultimatum (documentary feature, 2009)
- Watch Out (feature, 2009)
- Underbelly (documentary feature, 2008)
- Wamego Strikes Back (documentary feature, 2007)
- Phone Sex (feature, HD, 2006)
- Firecracker (feature, Super 35mm film, 2005)
- Wamego: Making Movies Anywhere (documentary feature, 2004)
- Pep Squad (feature 35mm film, 1998)
- Eleven Eleven (feature digital film, 1996)
- Pep Squad (feature digital film, 1995)
- By the Light of the Moon (digital feature film, 1994)
- Children of Darkness/The Vampire Lestat (digital feature film, 1993)
- Videorotica (music video, 1992)
- Bus Stop Goodbyes (video feature film, 1992)
- The Visionaries (video feature film, 1991)
- 2011 Visionfest - Winner Best Director Independent Vision Awards (The Casserole Club)
- 2011 Visionfest - Winner Best Picture Independent Vision Awards (The Casserole Club)
- 2011 Visionfest - Winner Best Production Design Independent Vision Awards (The Casserole Club)
- 2004 KAN Film Festival - Winner Independent Filmmaker Award (Wamego: Making Movies Anywhere)
- 2000 B-Movie Film Festival - Winner Killer-B Award Best Screenplay (Pep Squad)
- Schaefer Jr., Joseph (2006). Conversations-Steve Balderson, Dreams and Firecracker. pp. 6–12. ISBN 978-0-595-38717-5.
- Schaefer Jr., Joseph (2006). Conversations-Steve Balderson, Dreams and Firecracker. pp. 13–23. ISBN 978-0-595-38717-5.
- "Ebert's Best 10 Movies of 2005". Chicago Sun-Times.
- "Film Threat". Film Threat. 2005-07-21. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
- Aftertaste magazine
- "Independent Vision Awards 2011". Official Visionfest`11 press release.
- Sterneker, Leah (April 22, 2005). "Film Fest". Hutchinson Collegian 45: 2.
- Schaefer Jr., Joseph (2006). Conversations-Steve Balderson, Dreams and Firecracker. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-595-38717-5.
- Steve Balderson's blog - Official blog with articles on filmmaking
- Steve Balderson at the Internet Movie Database
- www.DIKENGA.com - Official website
- Film Threat - review of "Phone Sex"
- A.Refuge Magazine - Interview with Steve
- MJ Simpson U.K. - review of "Phone Sex"
- Roger Ebert's website - Firecracker review
- Offscreen - interview with Steve Balderson
- Film Threat - review of "Wamego: Making Movies Anywhere"
- Film Threat - interview with Steve Balderson
- Film Threat - review of Firecracker
- Topeka Capital Journal - feature story on Steve Balderson
- Lawrence Journal-World - interview with Steve Balderson