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A conversation with KU alums and creators of 'Red Bird,' a new kind of Western

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Thursday sees the release of the first two episodes of "Red Bird," the new Web series created and co-written by Lawrence husband-and-wife filmmaking duo Jeremy Osbern and Misti Boland. The gritty Western follows 1860s frontier woman Kitty Mae (Alexandra Goodman), a Lawrence mother mourning her 12-year-old son, who was gunned down by Missouri ruffians in a massacre not unlike the real-life violence of the Bleeding Kansas era. The boy's death sends Kitty Mae on a bloody quest for revenge, and she won't stop until every last man involved with the murder is dead.

A week before the series' debut, the Journal-World spoke with "Red Bird" director Misti Boland and cinematographer Jeremy Osbern about the project's local ties (it was filmed mostly in northeast Kansas), breaking genre conventions and the wild women of the Wild West.

Journal-World: The series kicks off with a tragedy that bears a pretty striking resemblance to Quantrill’s raid, right down to the time period, the setting and the violence that occurs. Was that event an inspiration for this story?

MB: Quantrill’s raid was a jumping-off point. Our series is fictional, but it’s based on a similar event. I personally have always wanted to develop a Western story of some kind, and to add something to the mix, I decided to throw in a female character.

JO: I had grown up in Lawrence and I’ve been here my whole life, so I’ve always been steeped in the history of Lawrence during the time period and the raids on Lawrence and the border war between Kansas and Missouri. I always wanted to do something on that. Misti moved here for college and had not grown up with it, so she started doing a lot of research. We came across all sorts of interesting things — not just Lawrence-related. Misti also came across stories of women who were just as brutal as men, fighting in the streets and tearing out hair and biting off ears.  Read more

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