The Killing of Bitch
(The Production behind the Production)
The story behind Why We Had to Kill Bitch is really about the regeneration of a previous film: the almost as offensively titled W.I.M.P. (White Intelligent Male People). W.I.M.P. was the brainchild of John-Paul Nickel who wrote, produced and starred in the film that contained strange echoes from his life. The only problem was that JP didnt direct the movie, so he was unaware of key problems with sound and picture quality. After spending more than a year in post-production attempting to fix the flaws in W.I.M.P., JP decided to re-shoot the entire movie, this time with a new script, crew and actors, and a smaller budget and timetable. Hence, Why We Had to Kill Bitch was born.
This reincarnation of the first film was both excruciating and depressing for JP. He was involved in a lawsuit with his former director, who had stolen thousands of dollars worth of equipment and years of irreplaceable production time. And he was faced with starting from scratch after having wasted, in his eyes, two years of his life. However, there were payoffs: the current script was tighter and funnier; JP was directing this time, not starring; a talented new D.P. and sound crew were brought in; an outside editor was hired during the final stages of post-production; and the result was a markedly improved finished product.
Shooting was scheduled for 13 days in June. However, an ominous event occurred on the first day of filming. Just as the cast and crew were on their way to the first location, a devastating storm (a macro-burst it was later pronounced) blasted Pittsburg with dark, swirling clouds, phenomenal winds, torrential, almost horizontal, rains, sizable hailstones and vicious lighting. The gusts uprooted forests of trees, flooded streams, streets and basements, blew bricks off of buildings and collapsed a roof at a famous local amusement park, killing two visitors. The super-storm also caused next-to-nil visibility and vast power outages that blacked out half the city. Including, of course, the location of that evenings shoot. The cast and crew persevered and filmed what few outdoor shots they could after the skies cleared. A few wondered, though, if this was a sign that the film was doomed. It was an interesting beginning to the five noteworthy weekends of production.
One late night everyone was on location waiting for an actor to show up. They waited for hours, concluding that the actor had either a.) quit and not bothered to tell anyone, b.) had been in a horrible, maiming car accident, c.) had been the victim of some violent crime, or d.) had completely forgotten about the shoot. People were calling his friends, co-workers, family, anybody who even remotely knew him. Eventually, during one of his pacing sessions outside the theatre, JP noticed a car that looked similar to this M.I.A. actors car. He found the actor on his reclined front seat, sound asleep. He had been a stone's throw away the whole time.
The cast and crew also discovered that one actor had a dark alter ego. John Yost, who portrays Stanley in the movie, was often given some leeway during the last few takes of a scene. After the scripted, rehearsed scene was caught on film enough times, JP would tell John and the other actors, Okay guys, this is the fun take. John, let the Bad Man out. And let him out he did. Whenever John let the Bad Man out, he'd improvise hysterical, crude, sexually overtoned dialogue and provide JP with some of the funniest takes he'd shot that night. In fact, much of John's Bad Man improvisations made it into the final cut of WWHTKB. The other actors held their own against this perverted Bad Man, and the crew just had to contain their laughter until JP yelled Cut! That was usually the point when Chris Brown, boom operator, would turn to the camera, point to his eyes and state, These are real tears here, real tears. The alter egos of actors you never needed to know about that/s part of what was discovered during production.
Greg Caridi portrayed Eugene poignantly and exquisitely, but he also suffered during the month of shooting. Greg didnt know how to fall, so during the myriad takes of the Bitch-beating-up-Eugene scene, he got bloodier and bloodier. Refusing to quit shooting until he got it right, he finished the shoot with his hands and knees thoroughly scraped and bleeding. In another scene, the mailbox stuffing scene, Greg somehow managed to hit the mailbox so hard with his forearm that it swelled within hours and turned a shade of plum. He was so sore and beat up that by the time filming was finished at the end of June, he was only just starting to heal.
The making of WWHTKB was a unique experience for all involved: painful, scarring, demented, exhausting and demanding. But most of all, it was fun and memorable. Everyone involved feels they have contributed a piece of themselves to this movie and are proud to have been a part of it. One of the best decisions JP made was to remake W.I.M.P., because this time around everybody became a little family, dysfunctional of course, but there was a bonding that never existed in the first film and that made the production of Why We Had to Kill Bitch such a positive experience.
John-Paul Nickel (Writer/Director/Producer) is a native of Pittsburgh, PA where he graduated from Point Park College in 2000 with a degree in theater. In 2000, JP started Five Cent Productions, LLC to produce his first screenplay W.I.M.P. which was completed in 2001. While Why We Had to Kill Bitch is only his second screenplay, JP has had numerous stage plays produced. In the first nine months of 2002 alone, three of JPs plays (Comic Book Love, Family, and The Sign) were produced by Pittsburgh theater companies. In 2000, his ten-minute play, (The Interview), was given a stage reading at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. As an actor, JP has worked for some of Pittsburghs most renowned theaters including The Pittsburgh Public Theater, The Playhouse Conservatory Co. and Kuntu Rep. JP is currently working on his next two stage plays (Dibs! and Monkeys) and next screenplay (Three Guys).
James Manley (Director of Photography/Associate Producer) is originally from Lancaster PA, but moved to Pittsburgh to study Computer Science at Duquesne University. Immediately after graduation, Jim began his study of film and video at Pittsburgh Filmmakers. He began his career as a grip/electric on numerous independent short and feature length films. Working his way up mostly on the lighting aspect of film, Jim finally began directing photography on many short films in 2002. WWHTKB is both his first full-length feature as Director of Photography and first try at directing photography for the video format. He continues to direct photography on many low/no budget films in the Pittsburgh area.
Shawn Bann (Assistant Editor)started making movies at the age of 15 for BMG productions. Now 22 years old, he studies at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, which has awarded him several scholarships. Shawn is currently editing for A&B Digital Productions and plans to relocate to the West Coast sometime in the near future.
Leah Klocko (Costume Designer) has a degree in Journalism-Communications from Point Park College. However, she has known how to sew practically since she can remember and has developed a reputation as a costumer for many theater companies in Pittsburgh, costuming plays and musicals ranging from "Man of La Mancha" to "Madwoman of Chaillot". Leah is also an actress and photographer and has over 20 years experience on-air as a local radio disc jockey.
Kirk Owen (Makeup Designer) is a member of the Special Effects Makeup Artists Guild and trained at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh where he studied Special Effects Make-Up, Set Design, Prop Design, and Television & Video Production. A jack-of-all-trades, Kirks skills include: Makeup Design, Construction and Application: For Film, Theater & Television; Cosmetic Makeup; Wig Sewing; Sculpting; Mold Making; Props and Model Construction; Set Design and Construction; Mechanical/Electrical Animation; and Rendering.
Gregory Caridi (Eugene) is a lifelong native of Pittsburgh, PA where he graduated from Point Park College with a BA in Theater Arts. In the five years since his graduation, Greg has been constantly working, appearing in over thirty productions in Pittsburgh area alone. Of those, his favorite shows include: Equus, Bus Stop, Biloxi Blues, All in the Timing, The Heidi Chronicles, Visiting Mr. Green, Italian American Reconciliation, Dancing at Lughnasa, Dont Drink the Water, and The Philadelphia Story. Greg also originated roles of Jack, Nathan, Trey and Rob in the world premieres of The Hermit, Transitional Girl, Housewarming Brunch with Two Door Frames, and The Sign, respectively.
Anthony J. Bishop (Kevin) is a senior at Point Park Colleges Conservatory of Performing Arts where he is pursuing a degree in Musical Theatre. Anthony has been seen in New York City where he played Chuck III in Confluence Theatres Off-Broadway production of Fourplay. Other stage credits include Andrew in Corpus Christe and Lemur (originated the role) in the world premiere of 32ft Per Second Per Second. Why We Had To Kill Bitch is his feature film debut.
Kristin Pfeifer (Bitch) is an eighth grade English teacher who has appeared professionally in numerous plays, a few independent films and commercials, and many industrials. Her professional theater credits include productions for some of Pittsburghs most renowned theater companies: The City Theatre, Starlight Productions, and Kuntu Repertory Theatre. Kristins favorite roles include Kate Keller in The Miracle Worker, Bear in Zoo (originated role), Heidi in The Heidi Chronicles, Sarah Day in Family (originated role), and Catherine in And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little. Kristins independent film experience includes playing Dr. Emily Zarkoff in The Resurrection Game, Julia Miller in Biophage, and a movie customer in W.I.M.P.
Allison McAtee (Heather) is a recent graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and holds a degree in Theatre. Alison recently made her Off-Broadway debut originating the role of Wonderbabe in The Project's Confessions of a Wonderbabe. Other recent credits include Nicole in Sonic Pictures' Recollection Rag and Rasa in Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera's In the Colony.
John Yost (Stanley) is an accomplished film, television, and stage actor. His film credits include: Inspector Gadget (Disney), The Temptations (NBC), Children of The Living Dead (Westwood Artists), The Playhouse (Yeti Bros.), and Last Call (Sonic Pictures). His television credits include: West Wing (NBC), Guardian Angel (Warner Bros.), Lighten Up After Dark (Pilot), National Shopping Network (NSN) as well as numerous commercials and industrial films. Johns theatre credits include: Portia Coughlan, Much Ado About Nothing & You Can't Take it with You (Pittsburgh Public Theatre), Street Scene (Pittsburgh Opera), Woyzeck, and The Caine Mutiny.