Alumnus to use Kickstarter to finish movie

Jackson French

After three years of work, 2009 WKU graduate Trevor Simms is ready to present his feature length film “Misirlou.” 

Simms said the 85-minute movie will air as 15 episodes on YouTube during a 30-day Kickstarter campaign scheduled to begin on April 27. 

He started writing “Misirlou” shortly after his move to Los Angeles in February of 2010, just two months after his graduation. The project took a year to write and two years to shoot. 

“I wanted to write something that I could shoot in Los Angeles because Los Angeles is such a popular place,” he said. “So I kind of made the movie for the area and I wrote it so it would be possible to actually make it and not just have a script that you’re going to sell to someone.” 

In “Misirlou,” Simms plays the lead role: a veteran who takes on killers. These killers specialize in removing their victims’ adrenal glands.

Simms explained that human adrenal glands are said to be effective as a recreational drug.

“If you were to take that out of someone while they were still alive, you could eat that gland and that is supposed to be the most powerful drug that you can do,” he said.

Simms said scheduling conflicts, safety concerns, a small budget and lack of a shooting permit have all been obstacles he’s had to overcome.  

“In Los Angeles, you’re supposed to get a film permit to shoot anything and I didn’t have the money for the permits. Plus some of the stuff out here, it would almost be impossible to shoot because for safety reasons,” he said. 

To shoot a party scene that takes place on an abandoned boat, Simms said he got some friends together and threw an actual party on a real abandoned boat, though the police caught him in the act. 

“I talked my way out of it,” he said. “But every day, filming on the movie, you were getting harassed by the cops or you felt like you were about to so you’re always on the edge.”

Whether it was by talking to the authorities or by showing his driver’s license, Simms was always able to avoid legal troubles during shooting. 

“It went a long way, showing them my Kentucky ID and saying ‘I’m just trying to make a movie. I come from Kentucky. I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to shoot here,’” he said.

Safety issues, especially those involving motorcycle stunts, also presented some difficulties during shooting. 

Simms said he and the other actors mostly performed their own stunts. 

“It’s not on a closed street, it’s like in busy daylight Los Angeles traffic,” Simms said. “You’ve got one motorcycle in front of another motorcycle and the camera was stacked and mounted on the back of the first motorcycle.”

Despite such difficulties, Simms said he managed to shoot the whole movie, with the exception of certain features, such as music rights, a film score and certain special effects.

He said the Kickstarter campaign’s goal is to raise $26,000 to finish the movie. 

During the campaign, Simms said, the movie will be split into 15 episodes, adding that each segment will be available to watch for two days before it is taken down and replaced with the next part.

Associate professor of broadcasting and film Ron DeMarse, who used to teach Simms, said he was always ambitious and highly motivated. 

He said while he was a student, Simms would “always take an assignment or a manageable project and try to turn it into something a lot more ambitious, like a lot bigger than the project called for.”

DeMarse said he was most impressed by Simms’ knack for producing. 

“He just got stuff done,” the professor said. “He decided he wanted to make a big ambitious project and he would find ways to bring all the pieces together to do that.”  

“If he’s just right now worried about hiring a composer and some last minute things like that, hopefully Kickstarter will be all he’ll need,” he said. “He’ll be able to raise all he needs to take those last few steps and finish it up.”