'Goatman' of Prince George's to be shown at film festival

Joseph M. Petrick, left, Andrew Bowser and David Kalani Larkins work on an earlier film. Bowser says frustrations on that project
Joseph M. Petrick, left, Andrew Bowser and David Kalani Larkins work on an earlier film. Bowser says frustrations on that project "led me to 'Goatman.' " (Courtesy Of Andrew Bowser)
By Sarah Richards
The Gazette
Thursday, March 18, 2010

Move over Bigfoot, Loch Ness monster, creature from the Black Lagoon and other similarly scary Hollywood monsters. Prince George's County's urban legend of the Goatman is finally starting to earn some big-screen attention.

It is not quite Hollywood, though -- more like off-Hollywood.

"Jimmy Tupper vs. The Goatman of Bowie" is being screened this week at the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas. That's a coup for a movie that took less than three weeks to film in Bowie and was done on a sewing-thread -- even scantier than a shoestring -- budget.

The film was written and directed by former Bowie resident Andrew Bowser.

"I just wanted to make something that was fast, cheap and expressed my anger and frustration with the [film] industry," Bowser said recently from Los Angeles, where he moved in 2006.

When he is not editing casting tapes at his day job at MTV, he is creating music videos and making films. But striking out on his own has not been easy: His first big professional film, "The Mother of Invention," cost less than $100,000 to make but required months of fundraising.

Although the film is scheduled to be in theaters across the U.K. this summer, "The Mother of Invention" has yet to get a distributor stateside and has been rejected by numerous festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival.

"It was this that led me to 'Goatman,' " Bowser said of his lack of success with that film. "I was frustrated with the amount of gatekeepers out here."

Bowser grew up in Bowie and attended Suitland High School. At one point, he worked at the old Hoyts Theater in Bowie and stayed out late with friends to film a video about Jesus' teenage years and a sequel to the 1999 film "Fight Club," which was based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk.

"We made a horror movie called 'The Stalker,' " said Tim Kuczka, one of the producers of "Jimmy Tupper vs. The Goatman of Bowie" who was then the concession-stand supervisor at the movie theater. "Everywhere I'd go, Andrew would be standing there with a hatchet. In the end, he just wanted to hang out."

Bowser studied for two years at the School of Visual Arts in New York City but ran out of money and eventually ended up on the West Coast, he said.

Last summer, he came home to get married and got the itch to do a film about the Prince George's County tale of the Goatman, a half-man, half-goat rumored to be the byproduct of an animal-human coupling, Bowser said.

"I grew up hearing about it," Bowser said.

Bowser's friends, Pedro Gonzalez, Tim Kuczka, Gary Coby, Michael Eller and Chris Jones all either acted in, financially supported, or did both to get the film done. The entire film was shot in Bowie, Bowser said.

The film is the story of Jimmy Tupper (played by Bowser), a man-child who ends up taking on a goat-man. A loser who works at Starbucks and plays the video game Rock Band at night, a drunken Jimmy is left by his friends in the woods as a prank. After emerging from the woods mauled and claiming to have seen the Goatman, he is met with disbelief from his friends -- so he heads back with a camera to get footage of the monster.

Bowser said he is thrilled the film was accepted in the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival. He is hoping someone will see the film and want to fund his Goatman trilogy; he already has the script ready for part two.

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