Kevin J. Burroughs is a local commercial filmmaker from Florida who has worked primarily as a cinematographer. However, he has made his documentary directorial debut with Smash: Motorized Mayhem, which takes a look at Bithlo’s Figure-8 School Bus Racing.
World Film Geek spoke to Burroughs about the documentary.
First of all thank you Kevin for taking the time to talk about Smash: Motorized Mayhem.
Thank you, thank you so much.
So, before we talk about the documentary, can you talk about how you got involved in filmmaking?
Wow! I can go back to middle school. I think I was in sixth grade and my social studies teacher had told us, “Think about your electives in middle school, and high school, and college, because they will determine what you want to do in your life.” And I thought to myself, “All I want to do is play soccer!” (Laughs)
No, but I wanted to do something where I didn’t want to wear a suit and tie because that’s not who I am. I started shooting small commercials for the middle school and continued doing it in high school and eventually I went to school for film. I work primarily in commercials first in the writing department and but really love being a cinematographer.
I actually have been living in Florida for nearly a decade, but yet this is something I never heard of until I saw the documentary. What led you to do a documentary on school bus racing?
Well, it all started when I was a UCF (University of Central Florida) student and the Orlando Speed World is just a few minutes from there. You would see signs there as well as Route 520 on Cocoa Beach for this event and I just would go, “okay”.
The first time I actually saw it live was with my wife and a few friends because they had been there for a few years. And I couldn’t believe what I saw. I thought this was the craziest thing to see. And at the time, I wanted to do a documentary on something and I decided to do it on this because It’s a part of America that is rarely ever seen and I think this is something everyone should know about because yeah, it is crazy, but it’s so much fun as well. So I decided to meet some of the guys who race and even learn who is behind the races and it was quite an experience.
Are you a fan of the sport?
Oh definitely, yeah. After I saw it, I mean I sometimes will go out there as they do this twice a year. The focus in the film was a race known as the Crash-O-Rama and well, they hold events on the weekends. But, I have to be honest, the weekend races don’t do as well as these big events that they pull off.
When it comes to the big races, I mean these guys are great. They charge $20 a head and they actually will make up their money for the year in one night as opposed to the weekend races. I think everyone, even people who are visiting in the area, should have at least one experience live. It is definitely worth the $20 and you get to spend at least four hours seeing what these guys do best.
The documentary focused on the likes of racers Chuck Rush, Ben Craft, Butch Pierce, and Don Cerone, who is in charge of the races. What were their reactions when you told them you wanted to do a documentary on school bus racing?
They were initially shocked (laughs). Chuck is the type who loves the spotlight and it has been a dream of his to make a movie about this so to have accomplished this is great for him. The other guys were shocked as well but they had a calmer manner and would just be like “okay, let’s do this”.
My intention is to make this a real documentary, not a reality production where they would force certain things. I wanted to showcase these guys not only on the tracks, but at home, their everyday lives. And I wanted to make this as comfortable as possible for them. So there were times where I would hang out with the guys and not even shoot unless it was something important. It wasn’t where I had to force the camera in their faces. I wanted to be there as a friend and that’s exactly how they had treated me when I was making this documentary.
Are you working on any new projects?
I am working quite a lot. That’s my thing, I love working and I am always working on things. I am shooting a lot of commercials and have some things I can talk about and some I can’t (laughs).
I am trying to get three more documentaries developed. One involves a woman whose dream was to travel the country with her father by motorcycle, but her father had since passed away. However, she wants to keep her dream and father’s legacy going, so she is trying to gather some friends to keep that dream alive.
The second one is also another motorcycle one, this one about the café racer, which was a popular type of bike used in England. So I met with a British man who came to Florida about thirty years ago and he still races motorcycles and in his sixties, and he loves the café racer, so I’m trying to get that off the ground.
Finally, I am developing one on innovation. I’ve been working with various companies and going to these conventions that revolve around innovative technologies. To show how important innovation is everywhere, from governments to states, to countries. Everywhere. So I am trying to get these developed but in the meantime, I’m always working.
Smash: Motorized Mayhem will be coming to iTunes and VOD on Tuesday, March 21. I hope everyone gets a chance to see what it is like to see this interesting sport here in Florida. Thank you so much again Kevin for taking the time out of your schedule for talking about the documentary.
Thank you so much.
A Special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Kevin J. Burroughs for making this interview possible. You can follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinBurroughs