C47Houston Flix Review:

"Billy Bates"

 

 

An artist derives his art from his life experiences and expresses his life through the people he meets, the anguish he suffers, the torment that envelopes his mind and the loves he endures in this feature motion picture by Director Jennifer DeLia, titled “Billy Bates”

Written by Ms. DeLia, “Billy Bates” follows fictional 30-year old artist Billy Bates (played by Houston's James Wirt). During an interview at an art gallery where his work is being displayed, Billy reflects upon his life that inspired his current pieces. A movie about nonconformity and the release of our social conventions, “Billy Bates” takes the audience into the mind of one artist and his process of anguish in creating his work. Billy takes you back to his dysfunctional childhood and his interaction with his parents, the people that affect his life.  During the venture into his mind and while roaming the streets, Billy walks into a "do-drop-in" where he meets singer/songwriter Kaia (played by Savannah Welch) and is entranced by her haunting songs. Two peas in a pod, their love affair flourishes and freeing Billy to bath in a deep psychosis and mental insanity that pronounces his instability and artistic development.  Billy enters a deep rabbit hole of despair and sexuality that goes beyond the reaches that Kaia can endure. All cumulating in artwork at a gallery. What we see is art imitating life (or at least one persons view of it).

  Technically, “Billy Bates” met the standards usually applied to moviemaking. Sound was consistent throughout the entirety of the movie, lighting was appropriate and moody,  cinematography was creative and composed, Camera work produced nice movements and angles,  color was graded evenly with no shocking washouts, editing was pacing, transition were seamless and moved nicely from scene to scene, soundtrack complimented and set the tone for the movie, makeup and hair was outstanding, set-designed developed the characters, locations were interesting, acting superbly done and directing outstanding.  As a whole, the movie was excellently created and well-made. Not bad for Jennifer DeLia's directorial feature project.

"Billy Bates" was an expansion of a short 2008 movie titled "I Am An Island" that played in Cannes, London, New York and Los Angeles.

After the Texas premiere screening (upstairs theatre) at the Landmark River Oaks Theater, Tuesday night, November 11th, 2014, we had the opportunity to hear some of the feedback from some of the audience viewers that were NOT associated with the project. (The theater was filled with family and friends) And, although they agreed with our assessment of the production quality of this feature motion picture (stated above) their assessment of the story being told differed quite a bit from those that were, indeed, associated with film. The most common expression was that of confusion. Apparently, the movie bounces around in time quite a bit and exhibiting, as one would refer to as, an acid-trip with a convoluted sense of self.

Produced by Jennifer DeLia, Julie Pachino, Robert MacCready, Steven Kaplan and Ron Stein, our particular view of the story was one of amazement. Objectively, the story had a beginning, middle and end. The underlying story being told from the perspective of a narrator (or interviewer) who is gaining some insight into who this artist is that is displaying his art in their gallery. Mingled in between Billy's interview are snapshots of his past, a reminder of the development of his eventual and inevitable works of art.  What we are viewing is a "process" of creativity that one artist lives and experiences in order to express what he sees or feels on canvass. Of course, to the detriment of his sanity and introspective search for self and love.  We didn't have a hard time following the story from opening to ending credits. However, to say that the movie was not a depiction of a drug-induced trip into delirium and only mentally induced insanity without heroin or acid is a question left to the viewer. "Billy Bates" reminds me of some nights at Studio 54 in the late 70's and the likes of artist Andy Warhol, among others. 

The two principal actors James Wirt and Savannah Welch (playing artist Bill Bates and singer/songwriter Kaia) did an amazing job with their respective characters. Mr. Wirt was a natural in displaying his emotional upheavals and  his quest for creative juxtaposition. Director Jennifer DeLia was able to get the most convincing character of Billy through this dynamic and talented actor, Mr. James Wirt. In fact, even though, the movie was released for the festival circuit a year previously, James seemed to still be in "character" at the Texas Premiere (it was not a reach for him to portray his character Billy Bates). Also, Actress Savannah Welch was equally talented and natural as her character "Kaia" but not surprising. Ms. Welch is a successful singer/songwriter in the group "The Trishas". Not only a talented actress and singer/songwriter Savannah is also the composer and performer of the songs in the film. 

Our impressions of "Billy Bates":  Personally, we thought the movie was interesting. Although dark in its theme, "Billy Bates" is a trip to watch. We thought it was easy to follow, despite the jumps in time and the voyage into despair and the artists torment. But, we believe that the writer/director is delivering to an audience and the viewer a creative process that one particular artist will experience in order to develop his art and to find his art. 

Disagree? Watch the movie for yourself, but we think you will enjoy it and best of all...talk about it.

C47Houston News & Entertainment Magazine was invited to the Texas Premiere screening of "Billy Bates" at the Landmark River Oaks. 

Using the TSIRS scale we rated the movie as a strong 4.6 out of 5 stars 

Title: Billy Bates

Texas Premiere: Houston, Texas, Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 at the Landmark River Oaks Theater.

Running time: Approximately 83-minutes

Production Companies: Clayhead Pictures, Four of a Kind Productions, RainStrom Entertainment, Poverty Row Entertainment

Producers: Jennifer DeLia, Julie Pachino, Robert MacCready,  and Ron Stein

Executive Producers: Edward Jacobson, Steven Kaplan and Said Zahraoui 

Co-Executive Producer: David Miller, Rosa Ganguzza

Written by: Jennifer DeLia

Directed by: Jennifer Delia

Music by: Aaron Kinsley-Brooks, Daron Murphy, James Robertson and Ryan Welker

Cinematography by: Salvador Bolivar and Mike Washlesky

Edited by: Luis Ascanio, Barry Farrell and Matt Garner

MUA: Lisa Choi, Tara Cooper and Laura Jefferson

Production design by Christopher Stull

Wardrobe by: Anya Taraboulsy

Music Supervisor: Michael Kurtz

Casting: James Wirt, Savannah Welch, Josephine de La Baume, Liz Foster, Heidi Hite, Bob Juergens, Frank Linsalata, Jack Metzger, Kelly Mickwee, Margherita Missoni, Edwin Sean Patterson, Emmy Robbin, R.L. Sparks, Zoe Twitt and Jamie Wilson.

Websites: http://www.billybatesproject.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/billybatesproject 

Twitter: www.twitter.com/BillyBatesPrjct  @BillyBatesPrjct 

IMDB:  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1507256/ 

YouTube:  http://youtu.be/J2LTvo5_yAk 

Review by H.Luna/C47Houston November 13th, 2014. All rights reserved.

 
 

             

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