LACED is a modern film noir that is taut and stylish with the originality and the reminiscence of thrillers from the 50s and 80s that I loved. Contained in a solitary location the viewer feels the isolation not only from the locale but also from the heart of it’s characters. LACED is Kyle’s directorial debut and the debut feature of the production team of Butenhoff, producers Matt Ramey and Dana Mackin. LACED played at Panic Fest 2023 and was one of the best of the hybrid films at the fest in my opinion. I met writer/director/actor Kyle Butenhoff at the fest and we spoke about the festival, genre films and my adoration for the poster art of LACED.

Kyle Butenhoff is Charlie in LACED

How has your recovery been since the premiere of Laced and what did you think of Panic Fest 2023

Kyle Butenhoff: We absolutely loved Panic Fest! It was like a horror fan’s superbowl, and that energy translated into such a welcoming environment. I mentioned during my Q&A, that watching Laced with a Panic Fest crowd was probably one of my favorite times ever watching it. That being said, yes it is definitely a wild weekend to bounce back from.

Panic Fest 2023 at Screenland Armour in Kansas City

We spoke briefly at the festival regarding the array of films classified within the genre label. What was your gateway drug for each of you into genre films and how did that influence your film career and taste in films for the future? 

Kyle Butenhoff: My gateway into the world of genre was without a doubt watching Silence of the Lambs when I was nine. In my opinion that is a near perfect movie, and it spiked my interest from a young age into the world of the macabre and serial killers. My parents obviously didn’t believe in the MPAA. 

I spoke with Kyle about how much I love the poster art for Laced. It’s not a design that I see that much and I wish I did. How closely were you involved in designing the poster? Have there been any surprising reactions to the poster and what have they been? 

Kyle Butenhoff: From the jump I knew I didn’t want a traditional poster with faces looking into the abyss. I wanted something that if you took away the title and credits block, would just look like a really cool print. I got obsessed with minimalist renditions of old movie posters, specifically retro Hitchcock, and the best guy working in that field, in my opinion, is the man who made our poster, Michal Krasnopolski. Everywhere we have been the poster has become a topic of conversation, and I can only pass on the praise to our incredible artist.

The location and music seemed like the 5th and 6th costars of the film. How was the location found for the film? How important was the music to you and how hands on were you with the involvement? 

Kyle Butenhoff: We all were actually up at a friend’s cabin for a small bubble New Years celebration when the entire team looked around and thought, “damn we could make Laced here.” I had written Laced at the end of 2019, and the location actually is the thing that sparked pre-production to happen. It was in the middle of the pandemic when the entire industry was shut down, so we all felt like we kinda had nothing to lose. As for the score, we found Steph Copeland through her agent, and I think it is obvious to anyone who watches the film that we hit the jackpot. She is such a talented composer, and the collaboration with her was absolutely effortless. She is in Toronto and I’m in LA, but there would be times that we would send emails to each other seconds apart asking the same question after not speaking for a couple of days. It really felt like we were on the same wavelength.

With starring producing, directing and writing the film along with wardrobe and makeup, Dana and Kyle you had your hands pretty full. Will you be doing the same with your next film? 

Kyle Butenhoff: On the next film, probably not. In the future I would love to. The problem with directing and acting at the same time, is that each shot you are in instantly becomes twice as expensive, because it takes twice as long to check playback and make corrections. That’s fine when you have a multi-million dollar budget and can afford that luxury, but when you are working at our size and shooting in 16 days, time is the ultimate commodity.  

Kyle Butenhoff as Charlie in LACED

Where is LACED going next?

Kyle Butenhoff: Laced will be the closing film at the Sunscreen Film Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida and then we will continue on our festival circuit.

Dana Mackin as Molly and Kyle Butenhoff as Charlie in LACED

And the litmus test question for The Blonde in Front: Who is your favorite space pirates? 

Kyle Butenhoff: Okay so this is a bit of a deep cut, but have you ever seen the 2002 film Treasure Planet? It was a sci-fi retelling of Treasure Island that Disney put out with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and I believe it was considered a bomb at the time, but I think it is criminally underrated. Especially their version of Long John-Silver. He comes into the film and becomes a father figure to the protagonist, and his speech to Joseph about the potential he sees in him always brings a tear to my eye.

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