We were excited to see that a new DVD start-up, Vinegar Syndrome, will release Paul Kener's obscure early slasher film Savage Water early next year. The Utah-lensed film never received a legit U.S. video release (nor did Kener's companion film, Wendigo). Below are two articles about Kener. The first details the production of Savage Water. The second, from the mid-1980s, is even more interesting: Kener planned to make a Ted Bundy biopic while Bundy himself was still awaiting trial in Florida. Even better, the multi-state production was set to star former "Brady Bunch" actor Barry Williams as Bundy!
From Deseret News, July 26, 1978
Killer Comes to Court in Locally Made Movie
By Corey Peterson
Deseret News Staff Writer
RIVERTON -- A killer came to court in Sandy last week, a man who brutally and methodically murdered five people during a river-run down the Colorado through the Grand Canyon.
But Sandy police could do nothing about it.
They'll have to wait like everyone else until Talking Pictures Inc. releases its new feature film, "Savage Water," in November.
TPI is a Riverton movie company. Its offices are in a trailer behind the home of its president, Paul W. Kener, 2015 W. 13550 South.
"Savage Water" is the fourth feature film for TPI.
Sandy city's court room was used as the setting for a dramatic trail sequence, Kener, the film's director, said.
The film is a cross between "Deliverance" and an Agatha Christie-type who-dun-it, he said.
Dave Savage, a river-runner, takes a group down the Colorado, but one by one, five people are murdered. Only in the final scene is the killer revealed. Kener declined to say who.
Kip Boden, a Utah river-runner by summer and a writer by winter, wrote the screenplay. The players are all local professionals.
Most of the river-running, murder and mayhem scenes are shot. About 30 percent remains, Kener said.
TPI is one of several independent Utah movie companies and represents the growing power and role of independents in the movie industry.
It also represents the realization of a dream.
Kener, 32, grew up in East Mill Creek. In the ninth grade at Wasatch Junior High School, he and friends became interested in filmmaking and reeled off 13 8-millimeter movies.
But for Kener, the dream remained. He earned a degree in cinematography and worked for a Utah company filming an outdoor adventure, "Toklat."
Hollywood had the industry locked up until about 10 year ago, Kener said. A young filmmaker had little chance while Kener was still in school.
But then the independents began to break the industry open. "Four-walling" was the technique used. Independent companies, instead of releasing films to theaters for a split of the receipts, rented theaters themselves.
That gave theater owners a guaranteed income and avoided the distribution lock Hollywood had on the industry. Saturation advertising was a key element of the independents' surprising success.
"Four-walling" is no longer extensively used. Too many theaters were rented for $30,000 when only $10,000 in tickets were sold, Kener said.
The independents however got established and now, the companies have the competitive edge on Hollywood, Kener said.
In Utah, a movie can be made for far less money in less time. Filmmakers here avoid exorbitant wages demanded by industry unions. In Utah, a feature film can be made in six months; in Hollywood, it would take two years, Kener said.
Keener first realized his ninth grade dream seven years ago when he formed Filmmakers Studio. That name was dropped in favor of Talking Pictures Inc. four years ago.
Everyone in the company is involved in making movies.
Kener, president, is a producer and director. Vice-president Rolf Nordgren is sound producer. Ray Smith and Lonnie Fausett, members of the board of directors, are producers.
Karen Kener, Paul's wife, handles the paper work.
In addition, Karen and her soft-rock band, the KC Classics, sing the theme in "Savage Water" and she plays a key role in the movie.
Kener confessed he is more comfortable behind the camera. In fact, he said he's terrified at the thought of acting.
The Keners' two children, Chad, 5, and Angela, 7, however, are often enlisted to go before the cameras.
"Savage Water" could be TPI's turning point, Kener said.
TPI's first feature film was "One Second From Eternity," a documentary about racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Second was "The Streak Car Company," a 1974 film that cashed in on the short-lived streaking fad of 1974.
Third was "Wendigo," a dramatic film based on an Indian legend of the supernatural. That and "Savage Water will be released about the same time.
For the first time, TPI will have more than one film in circulation. A fifth movie is also in the works.
The company has also made about 60 other commercials, educational and promotional films.
"Savage Water has everything for it -- action, adventure, suspense and a fail-proof plot.
The key is entertainment, Kener said. The thrill of the job is to see an audience become engrossed in a film. "Savage Water" is something a film-goer can believe could actually happen.
If "Savage Water" makes the kind of money Kener hopes it can, TPI could be past struggling for investment money.
From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, March 10, 1984
Portions of Ted Bundy Movie to be Filmed in Tallahassee
Herald-Tribune Wire Services
Parts of a new movie called "The Obsession of Ted Bundy" will be filmed in Washington, Florida, Utah and Colorado, the Washington State Motion Picture Bureau announced Friday in Seattle.
Bundy, formerly of Tacoma, Wash., is on Florida's Death Row while his appeals on three murder convictions wind their way through the courts.
He was convicted of the 1978 murder-rape of Kimberly Diane Leach, 12, in Lake City and the slayings of Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman, two students at Florida State University in Tallahassee, also in 1978. Portions of the Bundy film will be shot in Tallahassee, producers said, although no dates have been released.
The $2.3 million film will star veteran television actor Barry Williams, 29, best known for his role as the oldest brother in the "Brady Bunch."
Utah-based Kener-Smith Productions intends to begin work immediately on the film. Paul Kener, the director, was in Seattle on Friday scouting locations and unavailable for comment.
In addition to Tallahassee and Seattle, filmmakers will go on location in Salt Lake city and Vail, Colo.
Bundy has been charged with killing a vacationing Michigan nurse in Colorado and was convicted of kidnapping in Utah. He is a prime suspect, though has never been charged, in a string of more than 30 other murders of college-age women in the mid-1970s in the Northwest.
In some cases, witnesses recalled the victims were last seen with a mysterious, smooth-talking stranger who sometimes introduced himself as "Ted."
"Obviously, no one wants to make money off Bundy; he's not a shining example, but if someone is gong to make film about him it may as well be made here as anywhere else," said Bill Cushing, assistant director of communications for the movie bureau in Seattle.
Cushing said he wouldn’t comment on the artistic scope of the movie.
"Decisions are made by artistic and business people based on what they think will happen at the box office," he said. "It's a free country, they can film where they want."
The film company estimated it will spend between $500,000 and $750,000 in the Seattle area. Cushing said the shooting will have a $1.5 million to $2.5 million impact on the local economy.
Filming will take place in June in downtown Seattle and Lake Sammamish, east of Seattle, where several women had told police they had been approached by the mysterious "Ted." Two women, Denise Naslund and Janice Ott, disappeared from the park on July 14, 1974, the day the man calling himself "Ted" was seen there. Their bones later were found near Issaquah, east of the park.
Casting for 16 speaking parts is under way and between 50 and 100 extras will also be hired locally, said Cushing.
The movie is based on an original screenplay and is scheduled for release by the end of the year.
Producer Raymond H. Smith and director Kener have teamed up before, most recently to make "300 Miles for Stephanie," a made-for-TV movie that was aired on NBC.