Movie dream made reality


April 18, 2002|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,SUN STAFF

The start of filming on Hunting Humans, Glen Burnie filmmaker Kevin Kangas' debut as a director, was not filled with good omens.

At the shoot, the Fire Department showed up outside the filming location - the Severna Park home of the leading man's parents - to check on a problem with a power line. Five minutes later, electricity went out in the neighborhood, leaving Kangas with no lights or equipment.

"That was the first night," said Kangas, who would face similar debacles over the course of filming in the summer of 1999. Through it all - a hostile security guard at the Annapolis Mall, an uncooperative dog, and traffic jams caused by filming - Kangas persevered.

The big payoff comes Saturday, when Hunting Humans, a psychological thriller about one serial killer stalking another, will be shown in public for the first time. The screening is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the United Artists Snowden Square movie theater in Columbia.

Kangas, 31, who owns Empyre Comics in Glen Burnie, says the difficult shoot was worth all the hassles. Any doubts he might have had were erased at a recent private screening for family and friends.

"It was pretty amazing," said Kangas, who wrote the screenplay. "If there was ever a chance of me doing anything else in my life, it went out the door as soon as I saw it on the big screen."

"Even my mom, who's extremely nice and religious, said she was impressed," said Kangas, who added that his mother favors "nice movies" along the lines of When Harry Met Sally and While You Were Sleeping.

Nice, Hunting Humans is not.

The main character, Aric Blue, is a successful, handsome young man - and a serial killer. But the hunter becomes the hunted. Blue finds himself on the run when another serial killer targets him as his next victim.

"It becomes a cat-and-mouse game between two serial killers to find out who's best at hunting humans," Kangas said.

Blue is played by Rick Ganz, a Severna Park actor who works as a computer network administrator. Shot mainly in Glen Burnie and Baltimore for less than $50,000, the movie features local professional actors in other leading roles, but Kangas put his friends and family to work in nonspeaking parts.

Kangas, who studied film at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, began writing screenplays at age 18 and has completed more than 20. Hunting Humans is the first one he has filmed.

In February Kangas won best screenplay award for Hunting Humans at the DIY (which stands for Do-It-Yourself) Film Festival in Hollywood. He has directed several short films, and also has shot a business training video.

He said he has always been fascinated by serial killers and has read every true crime book on the subject. Other influences include Alfred Hitchcock movies and monster movies.

Hunting Humans is Kangas' third attempt at independent moviemaking. Two previous efforts, also in the gore genre, fell through. He described one as a slasher movie and the other as "Slacker with a gun."

"Everybody with no money and a camera shoots that," Kangas said.

It took a year before Kangas raised enough money to begin filming Hunting Humans. He paid for some of his expenses by selling comic books on eBay, the Internet auction house. In the tradition of independent filmmaking, he charged the rest on the expenses on a credit card.

The movie will be shown next week at the Back East Picture Show, an independent film festival in Hoboken, N.J., and Kangas said it has attracted the attention of a Los Angeles producer's representative who is working to find a distributor.

Meanwhile, the filmmaker is starting to hear from investors interested in his next film - likely to be based on one of his completed screenplays, Fear of Clowns or Ransom for a Psychopath.

Tickets for the showing of Hunting Humans on Saturday at UA Snowden Square theater in Columbia, 9161 Commerce Center Drive, are $5 at the box office.

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