Ted Bundy documentary becomes a six-part series
Park City High School graduate and filmmaker Celene Beth Calderon submitted ‘Theodore: The Documentary’ to Sundance Film Festival. For information, visit the film’s website at theodorethedocumentary.com.
When local filmmaker Celene Beth Calderon launched a crowdsourcing campaign through Indiegogo campaign last February to help fund “Theodore: The Documentary,” her film about serial killer Ted Bundy, she wanted to raise funds to do more interviews and eventually finish the project.
Eight months later, the feature-length documentary has turned into a six-part series the Park City High School graduate submitted to the 2019 Sundance Film Festival..
Calderon and executive producer, cinematographer and editor Timothy John Psarras also have plans to submit the series to the South by Southwest, Tribeca and Toronto film festivals.
“We are really excited for what’s happening,” Calderon said. “I feel very blessed right now. I never thought this would be where we are, after we started the campaign at the beginning of the year.”
Calderon and Psarras had set the Indiegogo campaign’s goal at $10,000, which would have helped them wrap up some final interviews and start post-production.
By then, the two had already interviewed many people who knew Bundy on a personal level.
Those interviews included Judge Bruce C. Lubeck, who was one of the convicted killer’s defense attorneys, Dr. Al Carlisle, Bundy’s appointed psychologist at the Utah State Prison and the author of “Violent Mind: The 1976 Psychological Assessment of Ted Bundy” and cardiologist Michael Preece, the former bishop of Bundy’s ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Through coincidence, the campaign met its goal thanks to the hosts of “My Favorite Murder,” a popular true crime comedy podcast.Calderon met Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark at a live show in Salt Lake City and told them about the film.
“They plugged our campaign on the podcast and, honestly, that’s where we got most of our support,” Calderon said.
Soon, pledges began pouring in from all over the world, Calderon said.
“We would send thank-you gifts to Switzerland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.,” she said. “It was exciting to see that we had so many fans and supporters all over the world.”
News of the documentary found its way to Rebecca “Bex” Sirmons, who Calderon and Psarras signed on as executive producer in July.
Sirmons is known for producing series such as “Rachel Dratch’s Late Night Snack,” “One Shot” and “Dancing with the Stars.”
“We met with her shortly after our campaign ended, and she was interested in what we were doing,” Calderon said.
A few weeks after signing Sirmon, Calderon and Psarras embarked on another interview tour across the country.
The first stops were the Colorado mountain towns of Aspen and Vail, where Bundy was connected to some murders and also escaped incarceration Calderon said.
“We met with a local journalist and he gave us a comprehensive tour of the area and showed us some key placesin Aspen,” she said.
The two also headed to Seattle, where Bundy began his killing spree.
“We met more people and shot one interview,” Calderon said. “We plan to go back in a few weeks for some more research, and I’ll be working with a homicide detective.”
London-based Burning Wheel Productions made contact with the filmmakers while they were traveling across the country.
“They are a company comprised mainly of females, and they told us they wanted to help us with funding for the remainder of the film,” Calderon said. “We finalized our contract with that U.K. group, and they will be our co-producers. They will help fund the rest of the film and our post-production, which, we hope, will take place in Los Angeles.”
Burning Wheel will also serve as the film’s sales agent and will help with global distribution, according to Calderon.
“They have been phenomenal to work with, and I couldn’t be more honored that they decided to help me,” she said.
With the production company on board, Calderon and Psarras plan to wrap up the series by January.
Before that, however, the filmmakers have scheduled additional interviews in Florida, where the state executed Bundy in 1989 after he confessed to murdering 36 women across the country, according to the filmmaker.
“We will meet with some of the law enforcement big dogs who brought Bundy down,” she said. “We will also interview psychologists.”
“Theodore” will not glamorize Bundy, Calderon emphasized, who said the timing of the film couldn’t be more important in light of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
“We want to let people know that there are still families who are healing from the Bundy’s crimes that took place 40 years ago,” she said. “Our goal is to not take advantage of these families. We want to, instead, raise awareness of the topics and help get some closure for these families and interviewees.”
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Sundance Institute announced it will instead send reporters a press kit with video remarks from executive leadership.