I recently had the privilege to talk with up and coming writer/director Lowell Dean about a couple of his latest directing projects, Wolf Cop and 13 Eerie. Lowell is a Canadian filmmaker who hails from the province of Saskatchewan, and has worked as a director, editor, and writer for several film companies. He has shot several short films which have screened at film festivals around the world. Lowell’s first feature, 13 Eerie is a bigger budgeted feature about forensic students on a scientific expedition who are being stalked by zombie-like monsters, which hits DVD on April 2nd.
His current project Wolf Cop is entered in the Cinecoup film accelerator competition in which 90 films are entered. Filmmaking teams apply to CineCoup with a two-minute trailer then advance through a gamified selection funnel that’s designed to package their projects and build fan support on the CineCoup social web platform. The films do not exist aside from the trailer, and if victorious, get funding to film the project and are guaranteed a release in Canadian theaters.
All filmmakers who participate stand to gain valuable audience feedback, social media savvy and a professional online pitch package bolstered by fan support. The Top 10 projects will be optioned for development.
Horror Society: Your current project Wolf Cop is entered into the Canadian Cinecoup accelerator film competition; can you talk a little bit about what that is?
Lowell Dean: Cinecoup is basically a social media/critical competition where any filmmakers from across Canada can enter and they make you go through an intense competition online for a few months and the winner will be announced in June and the winner will get a $1 million dollar budget and more importantly, you are guaranteed to have your movie in theaters across Canada. As you know being a horror guy, it’s pretty rare that lower budget horror movies ever get to go into theaters, now most of them are straight to DVD. That’s the big push for me, being a filmmaker; you always grow up dreaming you can have your movie in the theater, so this is too exciting to not go for. Wolf Cop screams to be a theater movie in my opinion.
HS: Yes it does. After watching the pitch trailer for Wolf Cop, it’s a hilarious blend of horror with a little bit of tongue in cheek comedy thrown in. How did you come up with the idea for Wolf Cop?
LD: Basically, I was trying to come up with something fun and weird. Most of my ideas are usually weird genre hybrids, I was thinking I love werewolves but you never really get to see, I mean I don’t want to spoil anything but he’s almost a bit of a good guy, he’s really violent. He’s like a really hairy Wolverine, except maybe he has a little less control than Wolverine. He’s a really violent superhero almost.
HS: I was going to say what I got out of it was that he was almost a werewolf superhero for lack of a better word. I’m a huge werewolf fan, which is what drew me to the trailer to begin with.
LD: Me too. I don’t want to say that werewolves have been ripped off, but in the last few years, there have been so many zombie movies, I myself have done a zombie movie and I love zombies, I’m obsessed with the Walking Dead and vampires are all over the place. Werewolves aren’t getting enough love.
HS: I totally agree with that.
LD: I think a lot of people think that werewolves are not sexy, not that zombies are sexy but, a werewolf can be pretty damn sexy. What do women find sexier than a man in uniform, maybe a beast in uniform?
HS: It seems like a great idea, the trailer had me hooked right away after seeing it.
LD: I wouldn’t take on a challenge like this if I didn’t think we could pull it off. I have an amazing team, my producers on this are independent, and they do a lot of indie smaller things. Emersen Ziffle, the guy who is the effects artist, we’ve been friends and he did my first few short films. He’s so talented, and all self-taught.
HS: The werewolf effects in the trailer are practical effects. When you shoot the film, do you still plan on using practical effects for the werewolf?
LD: You bet. I think we’ll use a little bit of CGI, but I am obsessed with practical effects, I think they’re always the way to go. Everything can be done with practical effects; I think American Werewolf still holds up.
HS: I’m not a big fan of CGI werewolves or CGI werewolf transformations. I much prefer the practical effects, maybe it’s because I’m an old school horror guy but that’s my preference.
LD: I agree with you completely. The only time I would ever want to throw in a digital shot is if it was something to enhance or something that we needed, like putting the right full moon in the sky because we didn’t get it on the shoot or something like that.
HS: I don’t totally dislike CGI effects, but like you said, I think they need to be used more to enhance the practical effects rather than be the bulk of the effects.
LD: I agree with you completely, and even if we had all the money in the world, I’d still want to go that way. You only need to look at these Star Wars movies. The originals are amazing, Yoda as a puppet is amazing. They don’t realize that practical not only may be at times more affordable, but it gives it a soul, it’s real.
HS: Obviously, you hope to win the Cinecoup competition and get Wolf Cop financed and put into theaters, but what are your plans for the film if by chance you don’t win? Do you have any plans for financing as a backup?
LD: We don’t yet, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Wolf Cop is happening, I want to make a tee shirt and have that on it. I really believe in this project, I think Cinecoup will be a good indicator of that and even if we don’t get it, I think we’ll get some good exposure. Talking to people like you, people want to see this movie. To me, this is a guaranteed return on investment; this is a really fun idea.
HS: Just from seeing the trailer and reading a little bit about it, I totally want to see it made. I know there are a lot of people out there that would love to see it too.
LD: I think Cinecoup is going to come down to a matter of taste. I’m cautiously optimistic that the movie will happen, even if not with Cinecoup because we’re going to make it happen.
LD: In a way, it’s not really my take, it was someone else’s story and I was just a director for hire. It’s really fun; it’s got a definite throwback vibe. They’re branded as zombies, but they’re more like mutant monsters. They have a lot of zombie mentality in that if they bite you it spreads. You know how zombies eat brains and all that fun stuff, the monsters in 13 Eerie are basically these genetically
modified prison inmates, if the bite you’re going to become infected but they’re not trying to eat you for their sustenance, they want to just rip people apart. It’s brutally violent and it’s the same effects people who did Wolf Cop.
HS: I got the term zombie off of the synopsis; I have not seen the film yet. I have a problem with people calling things zombies unless they’re dead and come back to life.
LD: In a way they are, we don’t really talk about their backstory. They have died but are genetically modified, but I’m hesitant to call them zombies because they’re not the conventional zombie. It’s definitely a twist of the knife on the zombie genre and zombie fans I think will enjoy it because it’s got a lot of those trademarks but I wouldn’t call it a classic zombie movie if that makes sense.
HS: How did you approach the filming of 13 Eerie, how did the concept of that come about?
LD: It was developed by Roger Christian and the writer Christian Piers Betley. Roger had been developing this project for a while and I had my own script in development, more of a classic zombie with the company Mind’s Eye who produced 13 Eerie, they brought me on and Roger mentored me into directing the feature. It was my biggest budget ever by far.
HS: 13 Eerie has a great cast including Katherine Isabelle, Brendan Fehr and Brendan Fletcher. How did you get such a great cast of young actors?
LD: The cast was secured before I was hired to direct. They were just seeking out talented Canadian actors who had a history of genre films. Katherine Isabelle is someone you can’t beat for Canadian horror films; she was so fun to work with.
HS: Is filming in Canada different than anywhere else?
LD: I haven’t shot outside of Canada yet, so I don’t know. Canada has amazing crews, hard-working, and a lot of crazy talented people.
HS: It’s always great to have a crew you can trust and depend on. Many independent filmmakers use the same crew over and over again because they know what they’re getting.
LD: I know it’s a cliché, but it’s a family.
HS: Canada has such a rich history of genre filmmakers and a lot of up and coming filmmakers such as yourself and others. How do you see the state of genre filmmaking in Canada today?
LD: From everything I hear, it’s good and it’s growing. I think people are starting to realize if you don’t have a huge budget, horror might be the way to go because it’s got a ravenous fan base, people want to see it, people enjoy it and it’s one of the few genres where it doesn’t matter if you have a huge celebrity to star.
HS: I love the look of the werewolf in Wolf Cop.
LD: Thanks, we did a lot of work on that and we’re still tweaking as we go. We want there to be a little bit of humanity, but not so much where you think you can go up to him and say “How’s it going?” He should be bad ass and scarier than shit.
HS: With an attitude.
LD: Yeah right, he’s Wolverine on his worst day.
HS: I really wanted to thank you for taking a few minutes out to talk with me about Wolf Cop and 13 Eerie. I’m really looking forward to seeing 13 Eerie.
LD: I think you’ll like 13 Eerie, it’s ridiculously violent, and it’s a fun 80 old-school horror movie throwback. There’s a moment where Katherine Isabelle is trapped in a cabin, closing off all the windows, and they’re coming in at every window. It’s just fun.
HS: I wish you the best of luck with Wolf Cop in the Cinecoup competition and I’ll be voting for it for sure. I hope it all works out for the best.
Head over to the Cinecoup website, register and vote for Wolf Cop or any of the other films in the competition, there’s a lot of great stuff in there.
Check out the trailers for Wolf Cop and 13 Eerie down below.
For more information, check out the Wolf Cop official Facebook page.