INTERVIEW: Susie Griswold and Kevin Craig West, Co-Stars/Directors/Producers of Bumpin Uglies

Robin M. Caudell is an AP award-winning writer and videographer living on the Adirondack Coast. She is a staff writer at the Press-Republican, poet, and the author of the unpublished, Black Heel Strings: A Chesapeake Memoir. Twitter: @RobinCaudell

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INTERVIEW: Susie Griswold and Kevin Craig West, Co-Stars/Directors/Producers of Bumpin Uglies

Susie Griswold as Sara and Kevin Craig West as Mavis in ‘Bumpin Uglies’

Bumpin Uglies Brazilian waxes conventional-indie expectations in Susie Griswold’s first full-length feature.

For the clueless, it’s not about avenging-bumper cars on a midway but an obsessed detective’s take down of a dirty, in more ways than black flies in May, mayoral candidate.

“I have been writing and dabbling in the independent film industry for quite some time,” said Susie Griswold of Local Productions.

She co-directed, co-produced and co-starred with Kevin Craig West of MoBetta Films.

“I’m kind of silly and a jokester sometimes, most of the time,” she said.

“The title was funny to me, and I thought one day that would be a funny movie title. People would want to see that just to see what it was. I had decided that it should be a comedy.”

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Shot in the Albany/Capital District, Griswold’s original plan was to shoot the police drama with the potential of a subsequent feature.

“I had done a number of shorts, and I decided I was going straight to the feature,” she said.

Griswold and West, friends and colleagues, met at the Upstate Independent Filmmakers Network. He was the organization’s president at the time.

“I actually had Kevin in mind for one of the characters (Mavis Bonder) as I was writing,” said Griswold (Sara Ross).

“I told him, and he loved the idea. That’s how he initially came onboard.”

The film was sidelined by Hurricane Irene in 20l1 and shot a year later.

Griswold and West shared casting.

“The majority of the cast and crew came from that network of filmmakers,” West said.

“For me, I’m not into directing my own acting. I’m not one to do that. Initially, we looked to hire a director, and we interviewed a number of people we wanted to be involved and unfortunately the time schedule that we had didn’t work in sync with their availability. So, it didn’t work out.”

The dynamic duo and leads, who put in solid performances, decided to spot each other.

“So that if I was on screen, Susie could be eyes for what needed to be adjusted for me so [we] wouldn’t have to use as much time using playbacks as we wait and direct,” West said.

“If you’re directing your own film, to see what’s going on you’re basically having to then look at playbacks just to decide okay, we need another take as opposed to being able to watch it firsthand on a monitor. So, it made sense for us to be able to watch one another when we weren’t sharing the screen together.”

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The film is contemporary and could be any one-ply-toilet-paper precinct in any American city.

The dramatic tension lies not only between Ross, a second-generation detective, and Bonder, a FBI agent, but also between Ross’s past and present.

Multi-tasking was a major hurdle for Griswold.

“There were times it came down to I was doing all of this work, and then I had lines,” she said.

“There was a moment when we had gone all day. We had been on the set for 15 hours, and at the end of the night we were going to do my scene. I kind of forgot. But then at the end of the night, I was like, ‘Oh, no. I have two pages of dialogue that I have to know.’ That was the challenge for me because I was exhausted, and we were just trying to get done. We were trying to get out of there.”

Bumpin Uglies struts to the festival-submission phase, and the co-directors hope the film gets busy.

The true indie is well worth a screening for Griswold’s end-to-end action and comedic flair.

“It was quite ambitious for any feature film but especially for an indie, the nature of this film, and the amount of talent that was involved,” West said.

Follow Bumpin Uglies on Facebook and Susie Griswold and Kevin Craig West on Twitter: @SusieDubieDoo and @KevinCraigWest. Visit Kevin’s website for more information on his projects, and watch his award-winning film, I Hate Being Black.

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