In the three years since his graduation, Steinbach has worked on one of the biggest TV shows in history and made his directorial debut
Bad Exorcists director and writer Kyle Steinbach ’11.
Making a movie typically takes time, money, and a small army of professionals who can keep a complicated production running smoothly.
Footage that flashes by in an instant on the silver screen often takes hours to film and hours more to edit. Budgets need to cover the salaries of the cast and crew, equipment, food, accommodations, transportation, shooting location fees, and more. A director ensures that the cinematographer, editors, art directors, set decorators, costume department, makeup department, second unit directors, sound editors, special effects artists, camera operators, and casting agents (among others) are all working together to execute his or her creative vision.
It is an intense process that has no blueprint for success: for every expensive failure like The Lone Ranger, there is a low-budget blockbuster like The Blair Witch Project.
Now imagine diving headfirst into the movie industry at 24, just two years after earning your undergraduate degree.
Kyle Steinbach ’11 was a Clark Honors College graduate in the Lundquist College of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences, who found himself in Los Angeles working as a production assistant on the Emmy Award-winning TV show The Office.
Everybody involved with Bad Exorcists held
multiple jobs, including director Kyle Steinbach,
seen here moving equipment during filming.
During the rare hours Steinbach wasn’t on set working with cast members, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fisher, and co., he was working on a script of his own.
“I wrote three TV scripts and really did not like it much at all,” Steinbach says. “I thought I should write a feature—that should restore my enthusiasm for writing, and would also be something that I could get behind and want to write, because the TV scripts felt like a job. It’s supposed to be a job, but the reason you work four hours after you’ve finished your normal work is because you love doing it.”
Not long after starting his “normal work,” though, The Office came to an end, leaving Steinbach without a regular paycheck—but with the time he would need to turn his feature script into a fully-realized film.
“When the show ended, I moved back to Oregon a week later,” he said.
Steinbach attended the University of Oregon over USC in part because he felt the quality of education he would receive at the UO would be equal to that offered at the famed film school 850 miles to the south. While studying in Eugene, the Portland native met a number of like-minded people who would all prove to be assets when Steinbach needed a cast and crew for his film.
“I found film people at Oregon who aren’t the prototypical climbers; they’re creative and have different perspectives and they’re really, really funny people,” he says.
On June 20, 2013, Steinbach called “action” on his debut feature film, Bad Exorcists. It’s a comedy about high school students trying to win a horror film festival who manage to get their lead actress possessed by an actual demon. With a $40,000 budget, every dollar spent and hour of the day used had to be maximized, which meant Steinbach’s friends and associates—many of whom are Ducks themselves—wore a number of different hats.
The small cast and crew worked 14 hours a
day, six days a week, for 21 days to complete
“I have a cameo only because we didn’t have enough people,” Steinbach says. “Everybody in the movie acted also, because it was just that type of film. There were scenarios where we were supposed to have a scene with three high school girls, and people we auditioned couldn’t come, and so, okay, the production designer and makeup lady, you’re both in the scene now. They did great. I was a producer with Zack Shivers ’13 and Louie Sloss, and I wrote the film as well. Pretty much everybody had multiple jobs.”
The cast and crew of Bad Exorcists worked 14 hours a day, six days a week, for 21 days to finish the film. The fact that everyone was still on friendly terms at the end of the shoot is testament to Steinbach’s desire to fill his cast and crew with Ducks who already got along
“One of our main supporting actors was an older gentleman; I think he came on the set day 17 of a 21-day shoot,” Steinbach said. “He was amazed at how happy everybody was. He said, “You’ve been working on an independent film for 17 days and nobody’s depressed?”
“This actor is, as far as I can tell, one of the most prolific Portland-based actors that I know of. He’s been on so many different sets, he’s worked on nearly every single show that Portland has: Grimm, Leverage. He was amazed. I didn’t have that much perspective, having only worked on some commercials and The Office, and everyone seemed happier to be here than those other shows. This guy said it was very unusual. It was a really good group of people.”
Bad Exorcists, which locked in January, is currently in the hands of the colorist, sound designer, and special effects expert, who are finishing the movie and preparing it for release. The next step for Steinbach is to get the film entered in a film festival.
See the trailer for Bad Exorcists here.