Wednesday, June 28, 2017 This Week's Paper

Indie films on parade

// Texas director Bob Ray’s Down and Dirty Film Tour hits Tacoma, other local spots

Texas filmmaker Bob Ray is bringing his second DIY film tour to Tacoma as his own "down and dirty" way to promote his work.

Always influenced by Austin's local live music scene, Ray took a tip from his musical surroundings when he decided to do his first film tour in 2001. It was his first feature film and it was about a band, so for Ray it was only natural to approach promoting his film the same way a band would promote its music.

"That tour was really hit or miss," he said, noting that he wrapped his 22-stop adventure with less than a dollar in his pocket.

Nine years later, Ray is taking on the challenge of booking and promoting his second independent film tour, but this time with a little more experience and a couple of films under his belt.

"I'm a little more savvy this time around," he said.

Starting July 15, Ray will be showing off his two latest films: 2007's critically acclaimed roller-derby doc "Hell on Wheels" and his newest feature, "Total Badass" (2010) at 25 stops and counting around the United States and Canada.    

Pairing the two films together for this tour, Ray will be delivering the Austin-centric counter culture flicks to independent film audiences around the country.

Ray opted to forgo the traditional route of submitting his third feature film "Total Badass" to film festivals because he was not sure if festival audiences would embrace the "cult classic" direction of the character-based documentary that follows the main character, Chad Holt, through felony probation, artistic and family struggles.

"The movie is really funny ... but there will be a certain amount of people who will just be flat out offended by the movie," he said. "Because of the subject matter, I wasn't confident that festivals that are sponsored by big corporations would want to show us - "Total Badass" is not about a social issue or about someone famous.

Taking the traditional route of film festivals with the hopes of a distributor picking them up... it's a 1 or 2 percent chance. Relying on the (film industry) gatekeepers - that's the uphill battle. The idea of being reliant on any other entity to get your art out there is a little scary."

So, Ray is taking on his second film tour, in which he hopes he can show as many people as possible his passion's work.

Coupling the world premier of "Total Badass" with screenings of the acclaimed "Hell On Wheels" is a full-package deal representing Austin's counter-culture in Ray's mind.

"This tour forms a body of work I'm going to be proud of," he said. "The films go together. It's an enclave of art, culture and music."

In Tacoma, audiences can check out "Hell On Wheels" at 7 p.m. July 27 at the Grand Cinema. Tacoma's own roller derby league, Dockyard Derby Dames, are sponsoring this show, which follows the resurgence of the new roller derby culture led by Austin's original team back in the early 2000s.

"Back then no one thought Austin could even sustain two leagues," he said, noting that today there are hundreds of roller derby teams and leagues across the world.

Slaughter County Roller Vixens are sponsoring a screening at Port Orchard's Orchard Theater July 25 as well.

"'Hell on Wheels' is a celebration of derby and it also raises awareness for the leagues ... it's mutual back-scratchery."

Ray's newest film "Total Badass" follows the life of a "counter-culture renaissance man" - an artist and writer during his six months of felony probation and how he must ultimately change his ways to save his estranged children. It will be screened at 7 p.m., July 30 at Central Cinema in Seattle.

Find out more about Bob Ray's Down and Dirty Film Tour at