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By James Whittington, Friday 22nd August 2014
FrightFest is at its best when its at its most outrageous and one movie that really hits that mark is WolfCop. Its a wild, hilarious and gore-drenched movie about, well, a cop that's a werewolf!
Best seen with a crown of like-minded horror fans this is sure to be the next big midnight movie masterpiece. I've had the pleasure of chatting to the film's director Lowell Dean.
HC: How did the WolfCop project come together?
LD: After having the idea for WolfCop I partnered with Saskatchewan production company Echolands Creative, and we shot a concept trailer to raise money for the feature. As we were researching ways to finance it, we found the CineCoup Accelerator online. CineCoup was a first of its kind platform, a social media competition where filmmakers face off for votes. Teams submit their trailer and new weekly videos to build up an audience and sell them on the idea of their film. 90 teams from across Canada entered for the final prize - a budget of up to a million dollars and guaranteed theatrical release in Canada. At the end of three months, WolfCop was selected.
HC: Did it take long to write and did it change much over the time that process took?
LD: I wrote the first draft a year before we made the film, even before we shot our concept trailer, then a few subsequent drafts after the whole CineCoup process. CineCoup had some notes on the script, so I incorporated those notes. I also focused on tightening it up to ensure it was something we could realistically shoot within our time and budget. There were quite a few changes to the script during pre-production, but primarily superficial changes, adding details, and fleshing out the characters. The major beats stayed the same since draft one.
HC: Was it difficult balancing the horror and more serious moments?
LD: Balancing the tone of the story was one of the biggest challenges in making WolfCop. There were many shades of comedy, horror, and straightforward drama to work into the movie, so we had to take it on a scene by scene basis and also watch the overall arcs of the characters. I didn't want it to descend into slapstick, but I also didn't want it to feel like the real, serious world. The horror comes primarily in our scenes of transformation or aftermath as WolfCop is on the hunt. He doesn't really arrest people. Not with those big claws.
HC: How did you go about casting the movie?
LD: Casting was a fun process. We knew we wanted Leo Fafard to be our WolfCop long before production, so once we had CineCoup on board with that it was about building the best ensemble possible around Leo. That came down to finding actors capable of walking that tightrope of drama, horror and comedy. Actors who could add a realistic dimension to our comic book style characters. I knew Amy Matysio and wanted her for WolfCop's partner, Tina. I had previously worked with Jesse Moss and knew he could walk that line of absurdity as our Gang Leader. The rest of the cast, like Aidan Devine, Sarah Lind, and Jonathan Cherry were welcome discoveries who delivered on all fronts. It is a great ensemble.
HC: Was it a difficult movie to pitch to get funding?
LD: Financing the film prior to joining forces with CineCoup was a challenge. It seemed like WolfCop didn't fit inside the traditional box of Canadian films selected for funding. It might have been because we were from Saskatchewan (which is often overlooked), or perhaps the absurd nature of the project, but we were rejected a few times before CineCoup saw our potential.
HC: What sort of a budget did you have?
LD: The budget of WolfCop was a little over a million dollars. It was a decent budget, but tight for all the crazy things we were trying to cram into our movie. We shot the film in 17 days, which is insane.
HC: The main transformation scene is pretty impressive; did it take long to shoot?
LD: The transformations took time, because we knew they needed to be right. Werewolf movies live and die by their transformations. We knew time would be tight so Emersen Ziffle (our practical effects artist) and I had many discussions prior to shooting on maximizing our time. We also didn't try to make our transformations too big or elaborate, which helped. Just really, really disturbing.
HC: A lot of the effects seem to be practical ones; do you think this adds to the whole WolfCop experience?
LD: Keeping the majority of our effects practical adds a sense of twisted realism. It also has a handmade quality that is both charming and referential of the classic era of monster cinema. I love Emersen Ziffle's work, and there is something so special and unique about working with practical effects. Actually seeing WolfCop on set was a blast.
HC: Are you a fan of werewolf movies and if so which one is your favourite?
LD: I am a fan of werewolf movies. My favorite is An American Werewolf In London. Great story, great tone, great horror.
HC: Are you nervous about the movie showing at FrightFest?
LD: I am always nervous for a new audience to see WolfCop! I hope people enjoy it.
HC: So, what projects are you working on at the moment?
LD: I have a couple horror scripts in development, but my main focus right now is WolfCop 2.
HC: Lowell Dean, thank you much.
LD: Thank you!
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