Webster University student Kyle Niehaus said the content of his videos would get him kicked out of class at a previous school. Now, he is making the films he wants as he gets ready to graduate.
Niehaus is a film production major and is preparing to shoot his senior film project in March.
The film is Max Vice, an action-comedy about a cop from 1985 waking up from a coma in modern times.
In high school, Niehaus was making a video for his German class, but wanted to do a video with more of what he called ‘edge.’ He said it was hard to get into a filmmaking class, so he was stuck with making videos in regular classes.
“I always try to do something that was a little bit different,” Niehaus said.
Niehaus said he told his German teacher the content of the video was ‘the most offensive stuff he could think of.’
Niehaus said his teacher was skeptical of the content, but he was determined to put the content in. He said when he showed the video in his German class, everything was fine.
Then, Niehaus showed the exact same video in a work study class. He said the teacher in that class was less than accepting.
“I got kicked out of the work study program,” Niehaus said.
In addition, Niehaus said the video got him suspended. He said he knew the reaction was going to vary from person to person.
“I think everybody is looking for a reason to be offended,” Niehaus said.
Niehaus said he was happy to get a rise out of some people. Niehaus said he does not blatantly look to offend others with his content, but he is still going to keep his edge.
An ‘80s cop in modern times
Niehaus is gearing up to begin shooting his next short film, Max Vice. The film follows a machismo cop in 1985 who is put in a 30-year-long coma. He wakes up in modern times, where the world he knew has changed.
Niehaus said the character is meant to be a “straightforward” figure in times where the world has become more sensitive.
“We’ve come such a long way from what we thought from the 80s, for better or worse,” Niehaus said. “I just like the idea of this kind of freight train character in modern times.”
Niehaus said a point he wanted to drive home with the short is that, while the world changed, Max Vice is still the same character he was in 1985.
“He’s got the Fu Manchu [mustache], he’s got the mullet, he’s got the American flag fanny pack,” Niehaus said. “It’s all about the look and it’s all about the attitude.”
Niehaus said the most important thing to Max Vice is his manhood. He wanted a villain who could threaten the machismo of the protagonist. He came up with the character of Vlad Eunik, played by Russian computer programmer Ildar Sadykov, who does acting on the side. Niehaus drew him to the role.
“I thought he [Niehaus] was a good professional,” Sadykov said.
Producer Tim Mitten was first brought on to help find the cast of the film before moving into his current role. Mitten said he knew Niehaus from class, but had never worked with him before Max Vice.
Mitten said Niehaus was the reason he wanted to be involved with the project.
“He needed help and I was willing to help him,” Mitten said. “We hit it off and have a good working relationship.”
Student Nate Nguepsi, who acts as producer and marketing director, said selling a film like Max Vice is difficult because it is in an obscure genre. The film raised more than $1,100 dollars in a campaign on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding site. The campaign ends March 18.
“The main thing really is having people understand and see what this could be,” Nguepsi said.
Niehaus said the goal is to get as many people to see the short film as possible when it is finished and the key to that is film festivals. He said getting noticed alone is a difficult endeavor based on where video is today.
“When we live in the YouTube age where the content is 30 seconds at a time, it’s hard to be a film student when there’s people that are so successful on a non-existent budget and you want to do something big,” Niehaus said.