Shock Pop Comic Con took place in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on February 14, 2015. Among the many great guests to meet and panels to attend, there were several movies screened that day. One of those movies was the Florida premiere of “WolfCop.” It was presented by Popcorn Nights, and included a Q&A with the movie's writer and director, Lowell Dean. Before the screening, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lowell for an interview.
HorrO: "The first thing I always like to ask is why horror? How did you end up in the horror realm?
Lowell: "I think I got into horror because horror enlists a big emotion. It gets you on multiple fronts. If it's sometimes sillier or not as good horror you'll laugh and it will be a big laugh, and if it's really good horror it'll haunt you and it'll be in your brain for years to come. So I just love the big reactions that a horror film, a good horror film, sometimes even a bad horror film can get."
HorrO: "Oh yea! Definitely! They get different reactions. You mentioned comedy vs. horror and just thinking about it, when I looked up the movie it's listed as a comedy horror, but when I watched it I really didn't think it was one way or the other. I thought it was pretty much down the line. Do you view it that way, or which way were you viewing when you put it together?
Lowell: "Exactly what you said. Pretty much down the line, and even through shooting and through editing we were always, as I like to say, 'walking that tightrope of horror and comedy.' Sometimes we would even be shooting a scene and shoot it in a funny way and then we would say well maybe we should do that one completely straight to just have that option. Because even with the flow of the movie, as we started editing, we didn't want it to feel all over the place. We wanted it to be almost like a gradual build. In a weird way, the first half of the film is almost quite serious, and it's kind of as WolfCop grows the comedy grows and it starts getting more and more absurd, which was kind of our goal. I wanted it to have scare moments, but I knew calling anything “WolfCop” means you have to acknowledge it's going to be absurd, and people are going to laugh at it no matter what.”
HorrO: "Where did you come up with the idea for “WolfCop?”
Lowell: “The idea came about honestly by smashing two different ideas together. I was trying to prep for my first film. I wanted do something I could both write, and direct. So I kind of through all of my ideas on the table, and the ones that I was most passionate about were a werewolf script and a cop script. Kind of mentally developing the stories going down the road, and about half way through each I got frustrated and decided to smash them together. It actually solved a lot of the problems I was having with the storytelling, and I had never seen it before. I thought the idea of a werewolf cop was just super weird, and I thought would be super fun to make.”
HorrO: "Expanding on two things you just mentioned, why a werewolf as opposed to another creature?
Lowell: "I think I just love werewolves. I feel like werewolves have been overlooked a lot lately in horror cinema. I've grown up loving werewolves. I mean, I love every monster, but vampires I think are kind of over saturated. Zombies, which I love, and I've even written some zombie scripts, I feel like I've also seen a lot of. Also the complimentary nature of the werewolf and the cop just kind of work together because I wanted a guy investigating crime scenes that he might have been at the night before, and a zombie wouldn't forget. A vampire wouldn't forget. Only a werewolf could mirror a black out drunk."
HorrO: "'13 Eerie' you just directed it, but this one wrote and directed it, so what was the challenge like going from one to the other?"
Lowell: "It was a really unique challenge actually. '13 Eerie’ was a really good experience, but it did feel weird directing something that wasn't my story to an extent because I had to basically study the script. I probably treated that script more preciously than I did "WolfCop" because it was someone else's words, and I wanted to make sure that I did everything right by their script. But with "WolfCop" I had no respect for myself as the writer. Whenever we were shooting, if something didn't make sense or something wasn't working, we'd just throw it out. I would work with the cast because it's a completely different thing. It's an idealized romanticized version of the story when you’re a writer. I know from my own experience your imaging the perfect weather, and the perfect characters, and the perfect performances, but in the reality of an independent film you don't always have that. It can say 'exterior sunny day,' and then you walk outside and it's a blizzard so you have to adapt the story. So it was a big challenge, but I loved it."
HorrO: "And now kind of going into the character of Lou, there's the mention of 'Liquor Donuts' early in the film, and I've never heard of that so I found that amusing. I can see why you have cop and donuts, but liquor is an important thing in the film to both Lou and WolfCop. Why did you go with liquor, alcohol?"
Lowell: "I think a couple of reasons. One it was very good for his character because he is an alcoholic so it was appropriate to have a fast food chain that kind of feed that addiction. Obviously donuts also feed an addiction for the cop. Also, in some small towns in rural Canada, you will find places as absurd as Liquor Donuts. It feels like this really weird over the top fictional convenience store, but not only can you find a place like Liquor Donuts, in my research I found places that were like Liquor Donuts and Guns. Even though that's real, it felt a little too silly, so maybe that will be in the next movie. They need to branch out and expand their audience."
HorrO: "Now lets talk about the transformation scenes because those are always important in werewolf movies. The first one takes place in a bathroom, and kind of starts off in a very unique way. Talk about the idea behind that one."
Lowell: "The bathroom transformation was born out of wanting to be really creative, and do something unique, but also knowing we had limitations. The benchmark, in my opinion, for werewolf films transformations is "American Werewolf in London." It has the best transformations. We knew we wouldn't have days to shoot it, or a week to shoot it. We'd be lucky if we had a half-day to shoot our transformations, so when we did the mental math we had about six shoots. That's all we would be able afford to do for our transformations. It’s one of those things where you have six shoots make it count. What haven't we seen before in a werewolf? Well I haven't seen a werewolf penis. So we decided lets just go with something that hopefully grabs people."
HorrO: "And the second transformation is a little bit different, so what were you trying to get out of that one as opposed to the first one?
Lowell: "That was the one were we said this is the media transformation, and we have to actually show something. The first one we knew we could get away with just a hand full of shoots, but the second one we knew if we were a werewolf movie we had to have at least one scene where we showed as much as possible. We just wanted to make it really painful, and have a lot homage to the classic things like the transforming eyes, and the growing claws. Emersen Ziffle, the effects artist, wanted to make it super painful. We did a lot of things like obviously his back is ripping in pain. Because he's a superhero, I wanted to do a homage to like when Superman rips his shirt open and we see the S, so we have him do that with his chest. Just rips his chest skin off. So just wanting to do something we hadn't seen within our budget."
HorrO: "Not long after that there's a scene where WolfCop gets intimate with Jessica. Now was that awkward in any way for the actors shooting that scene?"
Lowell: "I think it was awkward in design, but once we started shooting it was just funny. Our only goal was to not laugh because as soon as we put them together any kind of romance or intimacy was just like a joke. We needed the music and the candles to make it feel like it was romantic."
HorrO: "And did you ever consider putting Lou in that position, or was it always WolfCop that was going to be the one?
Lowell: "It was always WolfCop, and that was something I fought for from the beginning because it's expected to have two humans. There was talk at one point that what if Jessica was a werewolf, and you have two werewolves. I love things that are slightly uncomfortable, and slightly weird. I've had people tweet at me 'this is bestiality'. It's not bestiality it's just really weird."
HorrO: "Besides the transformations, there's a lot of special effects in the movie. A lot of it on the gory side. Was there a certain amount of gore you were trying to achieve?"
Lowell: "Just as much as possible. Again, a lot of it was within our budget, and what our special effects team could create within the time, and budget we had. So Emersen would go, and create gags. We would storyboard it pretty tightly so we would know how many severed heads we'd need. He'd bold those guys’ heads, and hands, and things like that. We also just had kind of an all purpose bucket of guts, and body parts. Again, when you're making an independent movie time is your enemy. We would say we are going to do these five cool gags but if we ran out of time and we only had half that amount of time we'd go to plan B, which is just like 'ok now film the wall and lets throw a bunch of guts at it' cause that's what you have to do."
HorrO: "The movie ends with a pretty good action scene. What was the most difficult challenge in that scene with so many different things going on?"
Lowell: "Easily the biggest challenge for filming the end fight was fighting the weather. By weather I don't just mean how cold it was, but also we were shooting outside in winter and that meant our days were very short. We didn't even have 12 hours of sunlight. Sometimes we had 8 hours of sunlight. We had to be filming all these dialogue scenes, but also fight scenes and we never finished a single fight scene on time. Every day we'd be rushing through the dialogue to add a couple of hours of fight scene, and keep picking away at the pieces. Definitely losing sunlight was always our enemy."
HorrO: "I watched the film twice..."
HorrO: "And one of the things you did really well was kind of hide what was going on in the town from the audience. You can kind of see it when you watch it a second time your like 'oh I see it now.' How hard was that to hide with your story? Giving a little bit away but not completely."
Lowell: "It was actually quite fun. Once we knew where we were going with which characters couldn't be in the same room at the same time and things like that and what the mystery was it kind of fell into place. It just became about trying to be as secretly obvious as possible. That's because I really wanted it to be the kind of movie that would reward repeat viewings. Actually you'll see things like certain characters are referencing other identities they have. Certain people are for example, there's a 'Vote Terry' button someone picks up, and in the next scene someone else has it. We tried to be as obvious as possible just to see if anyone would pick up on it. It was just fun."
HorrO: "Like I said I watched it twice, and picked up on some things the second time. You can enjoy it more picking up those things the second time around. Do you have any funny stories about filming behind the scenes stuff, in between shoots?"
Lowell: "It was just really fun. It was a punishing shoot for sure. Like I said, it was an independent film, so pretty tight budget. Really tight timeline. We shot the whole movie in 17 days. We shot about 6 pages a day, which was crazy because sometimes those 6 pages were fight scenes. I don't even know, it was just madness. You'd loose your mind, and at some point we'd have multiple cameras shooting multiple fight scenes. I guess one funny story is I strained my ankle, and had to walk with a cane. Towards the end when we were doing those outside fight scenes we'd be shooting a fight scene to the left, and a fight scene to the right. They would take turns prepping, and who ever was ready quick enough with either the lighting, the camera, the blocking, or coordination we'd shoot that one while the other was getting ready. Just running back and forth I slipped and felt pretty stupid. I mean, it was all fun. Everybody was great. The cast and crew was great. It was fun to work with people like Jonathan Cherry, and Amy Matysio, who were very funny and always throwing in new ad-libs and weird lines. It was just fun to torture Leo everyday, and he would always endure the most painful stuff, but he's a beast. He would take it and give it."
HorrO: "I read that there was an action figure..."
HorrO: "Who came up with that idea?"
Lowell: "That was something we wanted to do before... I don't know if your aware of how we got the movie made through the CineCoup campaign."
HorrO: "Yea I read a little bit about that."
Lowell: "So basically before we even made the movie we had to pitch CineCoup why our project should be the one that they made. We had to make a concept trailer, and a bunch of videos. One of the videos we did we said, '"WolfCop" is not just a movie, "WolfCop" is a franchise.' Even though it's kind of dark and messed up, we wanted to treat it like a comic book superhero, and do things like action figures, comic books, and video games. I think that's what excited them, and part of the reason they got behind "WolfCop." So we did a fundraiser through IndieGoGo, and now we have action figures being made. I don't know how many we made, like 500 or something. Very limited release. They'll be coming out in the next couple of months. Obviously the Blu-Ray and DVD, and we did limited comic books too. And our vinyl soundtrack, which I just saw someone downstairs had."
HorrO: "Wow! Cool! Obviously going forward, I also understand there's going to be a sequel. Is that still in the works?"
Lowell: "Yea. I've written the sequel. A few different drafts now, so it's pretty close. The producers are putting together the financing, and I'm hoping we are shooting this summer."
HorrO: "Cool. And is that your next project, or do you have other things going on?"
Lowell: "I'm developing some other kind of horror comedies right now in my down time from "WolfCop." Just based on the momentum it has I would be surprised if "WolfCop 2" isn't the next thing I do."
HorrO:"To wrap it up, why should fans see "WolfCop"
Lowell: "I think fans should see "WolfCop" if they're looking to just have a good time and feel the retro 80's throwback vibe. It's not going to give you nightmares so you can bring your friend if they say they're afraid of serious horror films, and have a drink and watch it at midnight!"
HorrO: “Thank you!”
Lowell: “Thank you!”
“WolfCop” will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD March 10th! It’s already available on Xbox Live. For more information about the film, please visit www.WolfCop.com.
I would like to thank Lowell Dean again for taking the time to sit down with me for this interview.