There definitely needs to be more exposure for Ron Koontz, since he provides a unique perspective on film.
What is known about Ron Koontz comes from Koontz himself. He served in the U.S. Military during the Vietnam War from 1969-70 and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal.
For what can be surmised, after returning to the United States, he started taking an interest in film and has been making his own films ever since.
Koontz has a large body of films uploaded on his YouTube channel that date back 40 years with his first film The Big Showdown being released in 1977. His films are within the genres of western and crime. They have been produced with a small budget.
His films always have an emphasis on law, justice, and religion. Koontz usually portrays himself in his own films as morally grey antiheroes; either as drifters, wanted men, or alcoholics who are caught in situations that require them to take action, either for their own sake or for the sake of people around them. That usually leads them to assume the roles of sheriff–or shurf to use the rough North Carolinian accent.
In his Western movies, there are always anachronisms that are prevalent, such as modern clothing and a Christmas coffee mug. One might think that they are careless mistakes, though this does point to a sense of timelessness that Koontz attempts to capture. Koontz himself wears a dark wig to maintain the illusion of agelessness, which is not all that different from mainstream actors who attempt to maintain their youth.
Koontz makes use of the public space in order to establish the setting of his films, such as the musical events at the local BMW or showing a fight or sprinting scene in some wooded areas. He also had a dedicated group of actors who appeared frequently in his films, including his own family members. There are recurring appearances of Conrad Brooks, who played in Ed Wood’s films, such as Plan 9 in Outer Space.
There are plenty of instances of martial arts, which Koontz himself stated originated from his inspiration of martial arts films, specifically from actors like Jacky Chan. Though Koontz himself does not perform the kicks himself, rather his digital editor Matt Taylor digitally transpose his face onto those actors who perform martial arts. I am very curious about what he thinks about deep-fake technology.
The films also consist of plenty of stock footage, though he has used copyrighted footage from films such as “Death Wish” and “Night of the Living Dead.”
Much to the annoyance of Bird and Gutter, Koontz’s films constantly use the same footage from his earlier films. This can best be described as cinematic xenochrony. The term, xenochrony, is originally a musical term, which refers to a musician, most notably Frank Zappa, incorporating a riff from his earlier music into a new song. Though in this case, this type of technique is applied to the film medium by Koontz. The juxtaposition of these recycled scenes with the unique scenes can often create new meanings behind the respective film, though usually it can be seen through.
The genre of folk art can definitely include film, as Koontz applies what he knows about film-making into his own creations with a limited budget and can oftentimes create unique means of experimentation. When his films are limited in terms of post-production alteration, he would often resort to those unique means, such as usually a double mirror or changing his appearance in order to play a different character, or creating the illusion of another character from a behind view by placing a hat or wig on a stick.
In more recent years, Koontz’s films have attracted attention beyond his inner circle. He caught the attention of the YouTube duo Bird and Gutter from the YouTube Channel Worst Movies On… who review terrible films and are known for their edgy humor. They have a whole playlist dedicated to reviewing his films called the Cult of Koontz. The films have become their guilty pleasures, until they started realizing that there were constant rehashes and became gradually bored with them. However, Gutter has taken the opportunity during the COVID-19 pandemic to actually review each of the films.
One of his most recent films, Copper Sky, was premiered in the Edward C. Smith Civic Center in North Carolina. So he has started to become more relevant in North Carolina.
What Can We Learn?
Every community has its own stars. That can be applied to North Carolina, who have Ron Koontz. Considering the serene landscapes of the North Carolina wilderness were frequently shown in Koontz’s films, the state should invest more in the appreciation of artists and their contributions to the state. While the films tend to take place in the West, there is that amalgamation that is present in Koontz’s films that all deal with the issue of human weakness and the never-ending pursuit of justice and order in the world.
As for Ron Koontz himself, it is clear that he has had a large group of people supporting his film-making, even to the very day this article is written. It should always help to have a supportive group of like-minded people who can guide the artist to the actualization of his works.
Image Attribution: Koontz, Ron. “The Organization.” YouTube.