Would you be afraid to make a movie called “Chicken”?
Well, Dan Bowhers ‘06, a visual effects artist and supervisor at Manhattan-based Smoke and Mirror Studios, did so without fear. “Chicken” tells the story of a man who spends his days delivering Thai food, but at night follows his hidden passion to play street basketball in New York City.
According to Bowhers, the evolution of “Chicken”was a happy accident. A few years ago he was working on several short films that were scheduled to be screened at a showcase in Manhattan. He decided to create a “short, goofy trailer”that would be used as filler. “I made ‘Born to Ball’ about a street baller,”recalls Bowhers. “The response to the trailer completely overshadowed the short films. I thought maybe there’s a story here for a feature film.”
“Chicken”was born with the help of Bowhers’ former Clark roommate Mike Kowalski ‘06, and friends Jeff Butler ‘10 and Sean Connell ‘06. “The friendships I made at Clark were invaluable. Not only did I go to school with incredible people, but I have a network for life,”says Bowhers. Kowalski is the film’s producer, Connell the screen writer, and Butler a visual effects artist. “Chicken,”a full-length feature film, will be released in select cities on April 20 and distributed via DVD sales in video stores, as well as, Bowhers hopes, through Netflix and iTunes.
“I was a screen studies major at Clark which gave me a solid foundation in theory and method. But the really unique thing about being at Clark was the flexibility and freedom to make films,”says Bowhers. “Other schools would have pigeon-holed me creatively by dictating film topics and directors. Clark was open to any digital filmmaking I wanted to explore.”
Bowhers admits that becoming a professional filmmaker is not an easy road. His first job after Clark was as a bike mechanic in Westborough, Mass. He saved money, moved to New York City where he worked in the mailroom of a color-correction facility, and then slowly worked his way into the visual effects business. His day job has him compositing and creating visual effects for commercials, television shows and films. But his real love is Picture Planet, the collective of NYC filmmakers he founded that is dedicated to the creative process and showcasing his and other independent filmmakers’ works.
“Frankly, I was terrified about entering the workforce after college. The economic climate is one thing, but trying to support yourself on the arts is borderline insane. Filmmaking is not your typical occupation. But I have managed to work and continue to pursue my dream of producing comedic feature films via Picture Planet,”he says.
And Bowhers hopes to motivate other Clarkies to follow their passions. His advice for budding filmmakers? “It’s okay to need your friends — especially your Clark connections. Save money. Be prepared to work three or four times harder than you expect, and commit yourself completely. It’s worth it.”
By Wendy Linden