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Susan Kouguell Interviews Joel Potrykus, Writer, Director, Editor and co-star of "Buzzard"

Returning to the Locarno International Film Festival after winning for Best New Director in 2012 for his feature "Ape," Joel Potrykus and his Sob Noisse collaborators are receiving quite the buzz in the American independent film scene. I met with Joel Potrykus during the Festival to talk about his films and "Buzzard."

"Buzzard" : Paranoia forces small-time scam artist Marty to flee his hometown and hide out in a dangerous Detroit. With nothing but a pocket full of bogus checks, his power glove and a bad temper, the horror metal slacker lashes out.

Buzzard exists to break genre, give a middle finger to romance, spit on sentimentality, and laugh at the status quo. It’s time to bring punk back to film.

--Joel Potrykus

Potrykus on "Buzzard "

This is the final installment of the "Coyote," "Ape," and "Buzzard" films all starring Joshua Burge. It’s a loose trilogy. Josh does not play the same character. This is my angry young man series, the world is out to get him. Same actor, same setting, which is a dirty Midwest city landscape.

I never want to make a genre film, but I’m interested in making films taken from other genres. When people ask me: Is it is a comedy, a drama or horror? I hate to answer that; it bothers me when I try classifying it. I don’t want it to fit into some mold. I would say it’s funny, but it’s dark, and some of it is really sad. I would hope that it’s more than a dark comedy, an anti-romantic comedy.

On Writing

Some people have a rigorous writing schedule and work as a normal screenwriter. When I write a script, even when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about it. I try to set a goal; I want it done in a month, for example.

I studied film and journalism at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids Michigan. I thought to pay bills I would be a critic.

I start with a character -- I hate to say “character study” that sounds generic -- and then focus on one person and one character. I’m interested in the perspective of one person, and filter story through that perspective. My scripts centers on who that person interacts with.

Inspiration for the trilogy

A long time ago I worked a temp job at a mortgage company. There was no accountability, and I would do things and see how much I could get away with. Like, take a stapler home. Then it escalated, almost borderline criminal. I took that experience and amplified it and took it to new extremes and inserted violence. I’m into horror films, and this character is obsessed with horror films, and lives out his fantasies.

I like to take the mundane and inject some insanity in it and amplify realism. That’s the fun part about writing, I don’t outline. I just write it and discover the movie and surprise myself. I dive in and get sloppy.


I always write within my means. I know we won’t have access to a castle or blow up a bridge. I feel lucky because those aren’t the movies I want to make. I don’t want to be Spielberg. I like Harmony Corine. When you see "Gummo" or Jarmusch’s, "Stranger Than Paradise" -- that’s what I want to do. Our investors are Michigan people who like what we do and believe it in.

What’s next?

Potrykus: "Buzzard" is the last of the trilogy. We’re at a point right now where we’re getting a little more attention. We’re all thinking about how far we’ll take the next one. We’re fielding offers from both coasts, we want to step up and better things, but concerned about how much control we want to give up. I think we’re ready to take the next step; not Hollywood but on a bigger scale.

"Buzzard" was a big step, with a bigger budget and bigger crew, but still all Michigan. Oscilloscope is our worldwide sales company who is selling outside North America and will release it in 2015.

For more information about Buzzard visit

Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker, Susan Kouguell presents international workshops and seminars on screenwriting and film. Author of Savvy Characters Sell Screenplays! and The Savvy Screenwriter, she is chairperson of Su-City Pictures East, LLC, a consulting company founded in 1990 where she works with over 1,000 writers, filmmakers, and executives worldwide.,

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