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Interview: Lowell Dean – Director (Another Wolfcop)

Available now on DVD, Blu-Ray and VOD is the hairier and wilder sequel to the 2014 Canadian cult hit! World Premiering back at Fantastic Fest 2016, Filmmaker Lowell Dean expands the universe of the savage yet alcoholic but all dysfunctional, ‘Wolfcop’ Lou Garou (Leo Farard). Facing a new and despicable villain in ‘Swallows’ (Yannick Bisson), Lou and ‘Tina’ (Amy Matysio) and of course ‘Willie’ (Jon Cherry) return to put an end to this this sinister plan of Chicken Milk Beer and hockey. With a range of guest cameos that genre fans will love, action sequences which classic adventure fans will fall over and stellar Canuxploitation, “Another Wolfcop” is the sequel you want so bad! Taking some time out from his next project, Dean spoke with Jay Kay from the Horrrornews.net about the tag of cult cinema, music that drives the Wolfcop and about some Chicken Milk Beer!

Lowell, thank you for taking the time. Can you go back to Fantastic Fest and talk about what the World Premiere was like?  

LD: It was a really exciting premiere, but, I was also very nervous. We were actually screening the rough cut, which was super bizarre because usually you go to a festival with your finished film. After it was over, the crowd couldn’t have responded better. It was my first time at Fantastic Fest and not only was it a great first response to the film, but it was cool to meet so many awesome filmmakers.

What made you want to follow up with a sequel? How do you handle the tag of ‘cult cinema’ with the “Wolfcop” franchise?

LD: I wanted to make a sequel before we even finished the first film. The character is kind of my baby and I obviously fell in love with the characters when making the first film. So, this wasn’t the kind of film where you could just put it down and say, ‘Okay, on to the next thing.’

It’s very serialized and it’s very comic book style. So, in the back of my head, I knew I would be making more “Wolfcop” films, I just didn’t know it would happen this fast. Luckily, I still had it on the brain, so I was able to immediately dive into a script for the sequel. As I got it into it, it felt like I was still making a continuation of the first film.

Toby Bond and Shooting Guns return as the composers for “Another Wolfcop.” What did they bring back to the film to give its unique sound?

LD: They were the perfect fit for this film and the sequel. I give credit to Jay Jolly and one of the producers for finding them even though they were in our backyard. They bring a nice grungy aesthetic. Their rock is so moody and steady, but then it can also get crazy, intense, and fun. It was really important to me in the first film to have an eighties aesthetic, so they weaved it in and I loved it. I think my only note after the first score was ‘let’s push that a little harder, let’s go a little more retro.’ With the second film, there were whole sequences that characters had a thematic soundscape that is synth, which I think is a fun mix. I mean, now it feels like everybody is doing it. You know, you have things like “Stranger Things,” but at the time we were doing the first film, it wasn’t as heavy.

Can you talk about the comic talent and execution of Amy Matysio, Jon Cherry, Leo Fafard and now Yannick Bisson? How did it affect the production of this film?

LD: Amy, Leo, and Jon who are kind of the main trio of the first film and the second film, their chemistry is so good! Obviously, we had to bring Jon back for the sequel. Amy and Leo would be there because they have a really great energy. They are fun to work with, and they are also really quick on their feet. Amy and Jon are amazing improvisers. Leo is a great physical talent, especially going between being human and a werewolf. So, bringing in Yannick, who plays Swallows, immediately before we even started, I told him “this is a lose set, having written the script I said if you don’t feel comfortable with the line, we can change it, we can change it on the fly, or you can give me ideas in advance”. Every actor works differently on these films; I really encouraged him to improvise, which I think he doesn’t always to on shows like, “The Murdock Mysteries,” which is his main gig. I hope he (Yannick) had a lot of fun. We definitely did a lot of improv and went with the flow of it.  

Speaking of Yannick Bisson, how does a purely good man, cop and character like ‘Detective William Murdoch’ turn into an over the top, sleaze like Swallows? What kind of direction was given to fully develop Swallows?

LD: I think it just came out of conversation. ‘Swallows’ on the page could have been your conventional cliché smarmy bad guy. Through conversations with Yannick, again talking about improvisation and pushing him to be open to being really weird and dirtying up his image and trying different things. I think that is how we found the character. On the surface, he is kind of this smarmy, horrible dude but Yannick was able to pull in these tangents, side thoughts, and moments of darkness. I think he really comes across as unhinged more than sadistic, which is the polar opposite of what he is known for on TV, which I’m sure he relishes.

Can you talk about the cameos in the film from Astron-6, Kevin Smith and Gowan? 

LD: The cameos in the film came organically and just by virtue of reaching out and you know, saying ‘pretty please.’ Astron-6 and I had kind of befriended each other over the last couple of years, because we have a lot of mutual connections. Emerson, who is our FX artist actually worked on their film “The Editor” and just emailing back and forth. They said, ‘we should be in the next “Wolfcop” movie.’

I was immediately taking them up on that. I said, ‘Of course, come out to Saskatchewan and we’ll find a place for you.’ There wasn’t a big plan. It was just like, ‘we have these henchmen and it’s a good number of people, so you guys can take over those roles and just make them your own.’ I’d love to work with them again; they were really fun.

As for Gowan, we used his music in the first film and the second film, so it felt only right to physically bring him in if he was available. We had an organist role and not only did he come in and do it, but he was so good at improvisation that we ended up giving him several scenes when he was only supposed to have one line. Kevin Smith was in Saskatchewan, scouting for a film called “Moosejaws.” He wanted to make that film in the town of Moosejaws, which is in Saskatchewan. By a fluke, he happened to be in our province. When he is in your province and you are making a movie needing a cameo, you do what you have to do to get him in it.

We see a balance of “Wolfcop” and the character of Lou, but it feels like you went in the way of an ensemble piece this go around. Can you talk about letting characters like Tina and Willie develop more in this chapter of the story?

LD: Yeah, it’s funny. You don’t know sometimes until you’ve made the film, but I always considered these movies Lou’s journey. It was only after we had finished, and I had seen the movie, I realized, ‘Man, this is like, definitely an ensemble film now.’

I think that comes out of falling in love with the other characters as you are working on the film, as you are writing it, as you are ad-libbing, and as their roles are growing. Amy and Jon are so important. In a weird way, they are the devil and the angel on Lou’s shoulder. Tina is obviously the Chief of Police and she pushed him to be a better guy and a better werewolf cop. Willie is kind of this conspiracy nut who is more likely to be reckless and get shit done. If I did another one, I think I would put a bigger influence and emphasis on bringing Wolfcop back to the center. That being said, I actually really kind of love that this film is kind of like a family film. The whole point of the film is about the character of Wolfcop realizing he needs a pack and that he can’t do it alone. 

Your DP Adam Swica has been part of several modern horror gems like George Romero’s “Survival of the Dead” and “Diary of the Dead” and 2009’s “The Haunting in Connecticut.” What made him the right choice to capture “Another Wolfcop” and what did he bring to the film?

LD: Adam is a very talented Director of Photography. Basically, one of the producers was really good friends with him and he knew of his rich background in the films like the Romero films and “The Art of the Steal,” which I think has a really cool look. The producers basically said, Adam is interested in being a part of this film.’ We had to take him up on it, because we knew that this one was going to be very intense visually and full of contrast and that the film was going to have very comic book aesthetic. That is what Adam brought, he moves with impeccable speed, but he does not sacrifice the art for it. He is still able to pull of these amazing cinematic frames even when he is under the gun for time and schedule.

Emersen Ziffle also returns to work on FX makeup for the film. What was the process like this time with FX makeup and prosthetics for not only the Wolfcop but other cast in the film? How did this help develop the story further in “Another Wolfcop?” 

LD: Well, Emerson and I are best friends. Before there was even a script, Emerson and I were going for coffee and making our bucket list for what we needed to see in the sequel; A lot of it evolves from the practical FX and our ideas. I knew I wanted the sequel to deal a lot with birth and I could not explain why, it was just on my mind a lot. So, we decided to go with this mass lizard birthing and we were thinking, ‘How are they going to birth and what are they going to birth out of.’

We were constantly sketching and designing, we knew what we liked about Wolfcop but we wanted to improve his look. Consciously or not, by the time this film is done, pretty much every actor has either interacted or suffered through some sort of prosthetic, slime, or make-up. It was fun and important with our increased budget to up the ante more than anything and explore new things.

How did Chicken Milk Beer come to be and its role as an antagonist?

LD: Chicken Milk came about because I really wanted to have the shape shifters return and I was trying to think exactly how the shape shifter would return. If I was a shape shifter and I needed to mass-produce more shape shifters, what would I do? In the first draft of the script, there was going to be a lot people birthing out of these eggs, these giant eggs. After reading the first draft of the script, the producers were like, there is no way we are going to be able to afford to make dozens of giant dinosaurs like eggs. So, the producers told us we had to come up with an alternative. One of them suggested maybe it’s like something implanted in humans and we were like, “how do we do that.” From there it kind of organically became the chicken, the egg, and the embryo and well, I wonder if you can get impregnated by drinking a beer.

With the film being released on July 3rd, what was the experience like getting the Blu-ray together for “Another Wolfcop?”

LD: I mean, it’s always exciting! For me, I’m a film fan as much as I am a filmmaker. I am just excited anytime I can hold a physical copy of anything I have worked on and we don’t take that lightly. We definitely made sure that the Blu-ray is loaded with extras and we had a buddy of mine Tim, on set during the whole production shooting behind the scenes footage. We have a really nice half an hour “In the making of” that basically if you are interested in independent film making, practical FX, or monsters, you will get a really good glimpse at what it takes to make a movie like this. I love Blu–rays just for that, their special features.

Follow Jay Kay on Twitter @JayKayHorror or @HorrorHappensRS

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