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Marble Falls graduate, horror film director inspired by town in ‘Butchers Bluff’

Film director William Instone

William Instone wears many hats in his film industry career. The 1996 Marble Falls High School graduate has won awards for films he has written, co-directed, produced, and starred in. Courtesy photo

Film students investigating the legend of The Hogman, a serial killer said to terrorize the small town of Emerald Hills, discover the myth is actually real. The story is told in gory detail in “Butchers Bluff,” a movie set to be released in 2022 that is written, directed, and produced by 1996 Marble Falls High School graduate William Instone. 

Now a resident of Elgin, just east of Austin, Instone set the full-length feature film in a town loosely based on the one where he fell in love with the horror genre: Marble Falls. Although he didn’t film on location, the movie is a reflection of his time here and even the people he met.

“I’ve loved horror my whole life,” he said. “I have memories of watching ‘The Exorcist’ as a kid and my babysitter took me to see ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ back when I was 8 years old. This movie is a mix between Jason and Leatherface. It’s a love letter to 1960s horror films.” 

It’s also an homage to Marble Falls, where Instone lived throughout most of his childhood and into his early 20s. It was during that time that he developed his artistic side and discovered a fascination with creating something of his own. He learned about scriptwriting and the tricks of making a movie on a small budget by listening to cassette tapes after school and over the weekends. 

When he was 24, Instone moved to Austin to pursue a music career but stumbled into the acting world. He was cast as an extra in the 2009 teen movie “Bandslam,” which inspired him to take a leap of faith and dive straight into the film industry.  

“I got the bug, even though I never wanted to act,” he said.  

After being typecast as side characters and extras in a few films, he decided he wanted to produce his own. Using knowledge gleaned from reading “Rebel Without a Crew” by Robert Rodriguez and “Make Your Own Damn Movie!” by Lloyd Kaufman, Instone wrote, filmed, starred in, and produced his first film, “Jon.” 

Rodriguez is an Austin-based filmmaker responsible for films such as “Predators,” “Grindhouse,” and the “Spy Kids” franchise. Kaufman is a filmmaker and actor from New York. 

Instone refers to “Jon,” a horror film made with a $4,000 budget and a three-person crew, as his “film school thesis.” Although it was never formally released, he hosted a screening of the movie in 2011 at the Uptown Theatre on Main Street in Marble Falls.
“One of my goals was to show a movie at the theater I went to as a kid,” Instone said with a smile. 

Since then, Instone has produced several short films and has gotten the opportunity to work with idols such as Rodriguez and Bill Oberst Jr., an actor, producer, and scriptwriter. He has won a number of industry awards with more than 30 going to his 2016 short film “Among the Dead,” which he wrote and co-directed. For his starring role in the movie, Instone won Best Actor in a Short Film at the Houston Horror Film Fest.

His most recent project, “Butchers Bluff” tells the story of a group of college film students who are making their thesis film on the fictional legend of The Hogman. Although the film is set in modern times, Instone, co-writer Renfield Rasputin, and co-director Matt Rifley gave it a 1980s slasher feel. 

“Horror is the easiest thing to do because it doesn’t take a lot of money,” Instone explained. “And horror fans are the best because they go all the way. To make a good horror movie is difficult, though, because putting your own twist on it can be a challenge. For us, we took away cellphones in this movie.” 

Shooting was scheduled to begin and end in 2020 but was delayed like the rest of the world by the pandemic. They were able to finally begin filming that summer in San Marcos, New Braunfels, and Bastrop with safety protocols in place. No one working on the film contracted COVID-19.

Winter Storm Uri also caused a production setback when it hit in February. The team persevered, however, and recently wrapped. Now, Instone and the production crew are putting the finishing touches on color grading and sound mixing. Instone hopes for an early 2022 release. 

The independently produced film was funded by two Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns for fans and investors to easily contribute online. The first raised $40,000 to cover initial production costs, actor fees, and location reservations. The second, which raised $20,000, covers post production and other finishing fees. 

Although he didn’t shoot the movie in Marble Falls, Instone said he drew plenty of inspiration from his life in the city.  

“I’ve got characters in there that are direct lines to Marble Falls,” Instone said. “Also, the town inside the movie is called Emerald Hills instead of Marble Falls.”

When asked what motivates him to pursue his craft, Instone’s answer was simple: legacy. 

Instone encourages anyone interested in pursuing a career in the arts to do so without hesitation and to follow where the journey will take them.

“My word of advice to young filmmakers is to just make your movie,” he said. “Don’t make excuses. Excuses never worked for anyone anywhere. You can make your movie with what you have and you can write with what you have.”

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