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Keenan Powell, the main producer/director behind Tangent Films, is not a stranger to the world of independent film making. He has produced/directed several documentaries from his earliest films The Attack of the Atomic Government Films!!!! and the Return of the Son of the Atomic Government Films!!!!, to his first dramatic film, Relish: A Love Story.
Keenan grew up in Oak Lawn, part of the Chicago Metro Area. He was exposed to the music of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Cream, the Monkees, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Hank Williams, Sr., Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, the films of Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Stanley Kubrick, Stanley Kramer and the list is almost endless.
“The first film I remember seeing in the theater,” Keenan recently explained in an interview, “is Goldfinger. I mean when it first came out. I don't remember seeing A Hard Day's Night or anything like that, but I do remember Dad taking all of us to see Goldfinger. I remember seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey in a second or third swing through the theaters.”
The first film Keenan saw in a theater, but he has no memory of it, was The Longest Day, Darryl F. Zanuck's sprawling film about the Invasion of Normandy.
“According to my mother,” Keenan explains, “the first movie I almost saw in a theater was Operation Petticoat, the comedy film abut the pink submarine hauling nurses and such. From what she told me, she was still carrying me, went to see the film and laughed so hard she thought she was going to deliver me right there in the theater.”
In addition to the above, Keenan saw some history in the making growing up in Chicago. “I was raised under THE Boss. And I don't mean Bruce Springsteen, I mean Mayor Richard J. Daley, himself.” He can remember the riots after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. He can remember Robert Kennedy being assassinated. (“Oh, that headline and the photo in the Sun-Times.”) and he can remember the Democratic Convention in 1968 and the trial of the Chicago 7 (“or 8, depending on how you want to look at it.”) He can remember when Richard Speck murdered the student nurses. “I think Dad imparted to me a love of history,” Keenan said, “I love history. I want to do documentaries to bring history to life. There's the White City (Chicago's Colombian Exposition of 1893). I've heard stories about H. H. Holmes, the Haymarket Riot, the Green Hornet (a Chicago Tram car that hit a gasoline tanker), and on and on. I would love to bring some of these stories to life for people to enjoy.”
Keenan, along the way, picked up a definite taste for horror films. “WGN, every Saturday night,” Keenan recounted, “ran Creature Features, a double feature, non-hosted, horror movie show, which usually consisted of two films from the classic Universal Studios catalog. For the non-classic Universal, as well as everyone else, on Friday nights, we had Screaming Yellow Theater with your host, Jerry G. Bishop as Svengoolie. And, of course, the girl who put the boob back into boob tube, Elvira. I still laugh thinking about her saying that.” Nowadays, Keenan tries to catch Penny Dreadful, the New England horror matron (“There is only one Penny Dreadful!”), Dick Dyzal as Count Gore de Vol, Richard Koz as Svengoolie and Ivonna Cadaver on any regular basis.
Keenan is planning out a long career in filmmaking. “I doubt I make any money at it, but so what? I'll have fun doing it and maybe I can create something that people will want to watch more than once or twice.”
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