As an independent filmmaker, Kevin Makely never knows what to expect.
As a veteran of the film industry, he knows that some projects will make it to fruition, while others fizzle.
That doesn’t deter him.
His latest film, “Badland,” is experiencing a surge, thanks to Netflix.
The Western had a small theatrical release on Nov. 1 and was supposed to get a video-on-demand release.
Then Netflix picked up the film for streaming.
Since its debut a few weeks ago, “Badland” has been in the top 10 for the streaming giant.
“It’s unreal,” Makely says. “When it came out to Netflix, there wasn’t any advertising. The fact that it has organically grown throughout the entire country and peaked at No. 3, it’s mind-blowing. I have so much gratitude, and I still don’t know how to process it.”
“Badland” follows detective Matthias Breecher, played by Makely, who is hired to track down the worst of the Confederate war criminals.
As he roams the Old West seeking justice, his resolve is tested when he meets a determined pioneer woman who is far more than she seems.
Rounding out the cast are Mira Sorvino, Bruce Dern, Trace Adkins and New Mexico resident Wes Studi.
Makely pulled double duty on the project as the lead and as a producer with his company, Papa Octopus Productions.
He was interested in the project because he’s a Western fan.
When he was growing up in a single-parent household, Makely’s male role models were Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.
“I drew from all the characters I looked up to while I was growing up to take on the role of Matthias,” he says. “Matthias walks into the hornet nest because he’s on this mission above him. It’s not reckless abandon. He has the skills to get the job done.”
Makely says working with the cast was an honor.
Sorvino and Studi are both Oscar winners, and Dern has been nominated twice.
“Wes is an amazing guy,” Makely says. “When he was awarded his Oscar, while he was giving his speech he thanked every actor he has filmed with and promoted ‘Badland’ opening. I nearly fell over in my chair when I heard that. He’s such an amazing gentleman. With a body of work like his, the Oscar was a long time coming.”