Bellingham brothers to unveil fantasy film 'Fantastic Stan Goes to Hell'


Jake and Micah Knapp in front of the Pickford Cinema, Wednesday, June 12, 2013. The brothers will be releasing a 45-minute fantasy film titled "Fantastic Sam Goes to Hell" featuring a traveling salesman who rides on a flying vacuum cleaner and must travel to Hell to rescue his kidnapped parents from the Devil himself. The film premieres June 30 at Pickford Film Center.


Bellingham brothers Micah and Jacob Knapp invite the community to see the caliber of fantasy film that can be made "for almost no budget at all."

They will screen their 45-minute wild ride, "Fantastic Stan Goes to Hell," at 9 p.m. Sunday, June 30, at Pickford Film Center.

"We want our 'long short' to be a conversation starter," said Micah, who is the younger half of Knapp Brothers Studios. "We would love more people to be aware of what we're doing."

Micah, a 26-year-old Sehome High School graduate, talked about what he and Jacob, 30, hope to accomplish in moviemaking.

Question: Micah, how did you create such a professional looking trailer (available on YouTube)?

Answer: With a lot of hard work. We shot our film in 2009-2010 and we've spent the years since in post-production with a lot of CGI (computer-generated imagery) and a green screen. A green screen makes more effective backgrounds possible. The star of the movie, Brandon Willkie, now lives in Eastern Washington.

Q: That image of Fantastic Stan riding his vacuum cleaner in front of the full moon looks like ...

A: Right, "E.T." There is a lot of homage in this film, and that's a big part of the fun.

Q: Since Fantastic Stan is about 12 years old, were you inspired by Harry Potter?

A: I actually wrote my first version of this screenplay when I was 13, in 2000. It was the year before I first read a Harry Potter book and before I saw the first movie with Harry.

Q: So you're something of a born filmmaker?

A: When I was 8 years old, I had saved $500 from working around the house and with some help from my parents (Marty and Cheryl Knapp) so I could buy an 8 mm camera. I had become utterly fascinated with my first movie, "Jurassic Park." From the time I first saw that movie, I knew I wanted to make movies; I wanted to become a director.

Q: Did anyone in particular inspire you?

A: I was always inspired by the directors, especially Steven Spielberg. I've seen every movie he has ever made.

Q: What are you two guys making now?

A: We keep busy making local commercials and music videos. We recently made a four-minute film for the Commercial Street Theatre Project.

Q: Are you committed to fantasy films?

A: Not at all. I want to tell stories that get people to think from different perspectives. Actually, we're more interested in producing films and documentaries with serious themes that reveal a lot about the human condition.

Spielberg did that with "Schindler's List." I was always in awe how a filmmaker could do something like that along with the Indiana Jones films.

Q: You seem to know a lot more about older films than many people in your generation.

A: I own hundreds of movies and I've seen thousands. I learned about making movies mostly by studying movies.

I love modern films such as "There Will Be Blood," "Lincoln" and what Spike Jones does. But I also love film noir, and the likes of Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil" and "Citizen Kane," along with classics like "Casablanca" and Fellini's "8 1/2."

Q: How do you and your brother split the work?

A: I like to write and direct, while he's more into the technical and special effects side.

Q: Why should folks see "Fantastic Stan Goes to Hell"?

A: It's meant to be absolutely over-the-top, not to be taken seriously, but we think viewers will have a great time, just to see what's possible in filmmaking on no budget.


Michelle Nolan is a Bellingham freelance writer.

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