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Monday, July 28, 2014

UWRF graduate creates film company

Published February 21st, 2014

Michael Butt, a 2012 UW-River Falls graduate with a degree in theatre arts, has founded his own filmmaking company called “MORE-on Productions” with a combination of tenacity and skill.

Butt, an aspiring actor, founded MORE-on Productions almost immediately after graduating. He already has two feature films under his belt, called “Yetis” and “Vampire Ticks from Outer Space.”

Butt has settled into a niche: sci-fi films.

“I have always liked old monster films; even the black-and-white ones,” Butt said. “Since no one else was really interested in making them I decided to try and make them myself.”

Butt is interested in producing sci-fi films reminiscent of those developed in the 70s and 80s, before computergenerated imagery (CGI) devoured the American cinema.

“I use my own props,” Butt said. “It’s easier to get caught up in the story.”

MORE-on Productions, for now, is losing money. Each film’s funding has come outof- pocket, but he knows that to make money, one must spend money. According to Butt, this is just the beginning. Butt stressed that his new endeavor is not about making money.

“I do this for love,” Butt said. “My love of cinema. I want to give the world a break from their lives, and to tell stories with morals hidden inside them.”

MORE-on Productions can be dated back to Butt’s senior year in high school, where he made a film called “My Neighbor Is Dating a Serial Killer,” which can be watched in its entirety on YouTube.

One of the restraints of producing films on a tight budget is being unable to advertise or get a proper rating from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

“The costs are insurmountable,” Butt said.

Butt made “Yetis,” a film about five interns and a wolf expert who venture into a remote forest and come faceto- face with killer sasquatchesque creatures, on a $700 budget.

Butt is currently raising money on Kickstarter to help fund his newest project, “This Woods Is Cursed,” which he described as a throwback comparable to “The Evil Dead” and “Scanners.” He is hoping to raise $3,000 so the project can operate smoothly.

MORE-on Productions offers a free digital download of “Vampire Ticks from Outer Space” on its website, but does suggest donations. The webpage, more-onproductions. weebly.com, asks that visitors “pay what you can” for the free film. This is a generous feature, but should help the film reach additional sci-fi film buffs.

Butt writes, directs, casts, produces and acts in each of his films. A lot of his skills, especially directing, were crafted at UWRF. Theatre arts students are required to take Directing I, which Butt excelled in.

“As I recall, Michael did a nice job with his final project,” Professor James Zimmerman said. “Students often are surprised by how complex, yet practical, this unit is. The course is quite hands on both in class and in assignments, and culminates in each student selecting, analyzing, casting and directing a one-act play.”

Butt also learned about story- building, writing, acting and filming while in the theatre arts and journalism programs. One of Butt’s more inventive skills acquired at UWRF is creating his own props from scratch.

“A lot of people ask me how I made the ticks from Vampire Ticks from Outer Space,” Butt said. “They were very simple. I sewed them from t-shirt material, stuffed them with scraps and sponges, and filled (them) with air or fake blood.”

Slowly, more people are getting involved with MORE-on Productions, and interest is growing. However, getting actors to collaborate for more than one or two days has become difficult.

“They all have lives,” Butt said. “They have to go back home and make money.”

In fact, Butt planned on filming a former project called “Voodoo Zombies” last summer, but had to scrap the film and re-write the script because of scheduling conflicts with the actors.

MORE-on Productions’ headquarters is currently in Elmwood, Wis. Butt, however, has bought a property in Plum City, Wis. that he is presently giving a face-lift. He regrets not taking the opportunity to film a movie in the once abandoned house.

“I should have filmed a ghost movie,” Butt said.

Butt has sent his finished products to horror film hosts in various states and has received a lot of positive feedback. “Some people just love it,” Butt said.

“These Woods Is Cursed” will begin filming once summer is on the horizon, yet Butt teased that another sci-fi film is also in the works.

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