Sask’s answer to Hobo with a Shotgun is gaining momentum
by Jorge Ignacio Castillo
Opens June 6
It’s very hard not to root for WolfCop. Look at the title: Wolf. Cop. Enough said.
Here is a genre movie made in Saskatchewan after the end of the film tax credit, thanks to a strong concept and the power of social media: audiences’ enthusiasm propelled WolfCop to the top of the CineCoup filmmaker competition, which in turn bestowed a million-dollar budget on the project.
Nearly a year later, WolfCop is ready to unfold in six cities in Western Canada this June 6. A week later the film will be expanding east.
“There will be a full moon on June 13,” adds the writer/director of the piece, Lowell Dean. It’s a phone interview but there’s no way he’s not smiling.
For those with no Internet access, radio, television or interest in media who might have missed the WolfCop phenomenon and have no idea what I’m talking about: WolfCop is a werewolf film about an alcoholic small-town police officer, Lou Garou, who finds redemption after he’s cursed with lycanthropy. You never know for sure from trailers, but WolfCop looks like an entertaining bloodbath of hairy hilarity. Fingers crossed.
The fans who made WolfCop possible are still fascinated by it. (The official trailer has been seen by almost 200,000 people in YouTube.) They aren’t the only ones; WolfCop was successfully screened for foreign buyers during the latest Cannes Film Festival. The positive response inspired CineCoup to announce a sequel very quickly.
Lowell Dean is prepared. In fact, when he first pitched the idea of WolfCop, Dean did it as a potential franchise.
Just over a week before the film’s debut, Dean talked to Prairie Dog.
Definitely more excited than nervous. It has been a long time coming. We finished all the final touches just a few days ago. It’s as ready as it’s going to be.
The trailer has been out for about a month. Any surprises on the feedback?
I would have never guessed in my wildest dreams that people would be this excited for WolfCop. I welcome it, but we have to keep our heads down and engage people in social media. It’s crazy that a year after (winning CineCoup) not only are people still interested, but more so.
In an interview with Steven Soderbergh, he mentioned one must really be in love with the material you’re working with, because you will spend a lot of time with it.
I completely agree with that statement, and I’m still in love with the material. You have to see it about 500 times before it gets to the public. It still makes me laugh. I hope it’s a good sign.
What aspects of the werewolf mythology did you adopt and which ones did you dismiss?
I would call WolfCop a classic werewolf movie. I was mostly interested in the old Hollywood history of the creature, in which the werewolf was created by a curse. In modern films, it’s a bite. I wanted to bring back the curse. We’re pretty faithful to the mythology, but added a couple of twists of our own.
WolfCop sheds his own skin.
We were looking for something referential that didn’t look like a rip-off. Emersen [Ziffle, special effects makeup] wanted the transformation to be really painful. The shedding of the skin is more like WolfCop ripping off his own flesh.
Are you openly saying the fictional town of Woodhaven is in Saskatchewan?
I’m very influenced by comic book culture. Batman is from Gotham City, Superman is from Metropolis. Not New York, but they feel like New York. We never say where Woodhaven is, but to me it’s very much a small town in Saskatchewan, a cross between Regina and Moose Jaw.
Considering the talent exodus, after the end of the Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit wiped out the industry, was it hard to put a crew together?
It was. A lot of the crew had taken on different careers by the time we came to shoot. Maybe we had to bring back a quarter of the crew — or convince them to take a break from their new jobs.
Why is the film only opening in six markets?
We are doing a targeted release in the areas [where] we think we have the most support: Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. The following week — Friday the 13th — we’ll be opening in Winnipeg, Hamilton, Halifax and Toronto. It will be a decent amount [of screens] for a Canadian movie. We haven’t announced it yet, but we’ll be launching an online “demand it” campaign. If we get enough interest, we’ll go.
Were you expecting to be asked to do a sequel?
I wasn’t surprised when they brought it up. I was only surprised it was so soon, before we have the other one in theatres. When we pitched our film last year at Banff to CineCoup, one of the points that we made was that we saw WolfCop as a franchise. We all had in our heads [that] if people responded well, there could be a future for this character.
The fact that there will be a WolfCop 2 gives away the survival of the character.
I don’t know. Does it? These kinds of movies are ridiculous. He could die and Part 2 could be about trying to resurrect him.
Are you expecting a bigger budget?
I hope so. We pushed as far and as hard as possible with what we had, $1.5 million or so. There was stuff in the script I had to cut for time and money. To do a proper sequel, we need at least double, if not more.
I heard Tourism Saskatchewan is handing out funding.
[Laughs] We’ll take it.
Will you be shooting in the province?
It’s too soon to tell, but I love Saskatchewan. Woodhaven is part of the province, so it would feel right if the story takes place here.