INTERVIEW: Director Lowell Dean (WOLFCOP) Talks Law Enforcing Lycanthropes

So WOLFCOP came about in a really interesting way by winning a contest to get funding, right? Can you talk a little bit about how the film came together?

It was almost a backwards way of getting a film together for sure. We had shot a concept reel as a way of getting funding. We entered a contest called the Cinecoup Accellerator. You can check them out online but Cinecoup is essentially a social media platform. It wasn’t a contest per se but people do compete online for votes and media attention and the winner of the final film selected would receive a budget of a million dollars and a theatrical release in Canada. Wolfcop luckily wound up being the film selected.

WOLFCOP struck me as a throwback film from the early days of HBO and Cinemax where one would have seen it over and over when pay cable was looking for ways to fill programming with any low budget horror or comedy they could pay the rights to broadcast. How big of an influence were the early days of cable or glory days of VHS in coming up with the tone for Wolfcop? 

Yeah definitely. I think especially for me, I wanted to have the late night TV vibe and have an 80’s feel in general. We wanted to have that “low budget, high concept” feel that so many of the best 80’s movies had and we wanted to do a really dark, twisted and funny spin on something like Teen Wolf. 

The film has a lot of laughs and obviously the joke is spelled out in the title of the film, but watching it I was struck by how straight much of the film plays and how much pathos and how much of a backstory is developed for the towns history. How important to you was it to not make the film to overtly “silly”or pure schlock. given that your lead character is a law enforcing werewolf? 

It was definitely a conscious decision. I’m heavily influenced by comic book culture and of course we knew the name of the movie is “Wolf Cop” so people were going to laugh no matter what. We wanted to get people to care about the characters and the story. When I wrote it I almost went on the offensive and maybe went a little too much on developing the drama. I wanted you to care about the characters and set up the world first and foremost and set up the history of the town so that by the time we let Wolfcop off the leash and things got crazy and bizarre you felt like you were in a bit of a comic book world.

Universal Studios is in the middle of retooling all their classic monsters as Avengers-style action heroes, which seems pretty unfortunate, but do you envision bringing on more classic monsters? I know the end of the film says that Wolfcop will return.

There will definitely be a Wolfcop II, but I don’t see him taking on a vampire lawyer. Without giving too much away I will say there is a new monster that comes to the town and Wolfcop will take it on. Eventually it would be cool to do our own team type of thing but I think this character still needs some more fleshing out before we bring on Frankenstein and the ilk.

What were some of the more fun ideas to develop and film? The werewolf sex scene obviously gets a rise from the audience.

The sex scene was fun to do. The transformation scenes were a huge challenge because they were so slow and took so long to set up. We’d spent at least twenty minutes setting up a two second shot. For me it was the barn scene where Wolfcop shows up and just starts shooting everyone down and ripping off people’s faces. By the time you reach the sequel there will be more off that since we got the origin story out of the way. Whenever Wolfcop was on set, things were a little crazy.

Was it just about all practical effects? This has to be the first exploding penis in a transformation ever seen on film.

It wasn’t 100% practical effects but it was very close too it.

Who was on the FX team? 

Emerson Ziffle was the head of our effects team. I’ve been working with him and have been friends with him for a long time. Before there was even a script he was working on the effects.

With any werewolf film, the hook hinges on the transformation scenes. What had Emerson worked on in the past that made him your guy.

He and I had worked on a couple short projects together in the past. One of my first short films is a zombie comedy called “Doomed”about a small town that gets devoured by zombies. His effects were so much better than the actual film that I knew I had to work with him more. Later on, my first feature was a zombie/mutant title called 13 Eerie and he did the effects for that as well. I just knew he was the guy to work with.

How excited have you been with the attention the film has received?

I’m so happy for it and shocked by it a little bit every day. This was such a small little project shot in seventeen days. I’m so flattered when people even talk about it. I hope people get what they were looking for from it.

You have a great character in Wolfcop’s partner Tina (AMY MATYSIO). Was it important to have a strong female character that was an ass kicker in her own right and not just a standard love interest? 

It wasn’t originally but over the different drafts of the film Tina got a lot stronger and it totally helped the film. Female characters are often pushed to the background or relegated to sex objects in these kinds of films, so to let Tina be the John McClaine of the movie felt right. In a lot of ways Lou is Tina’s sidekick in the movie. I realized that when we were doing the breakdown of the final fight and Tina was killing off way more people than Wolfcop. She was fun to write for and will definitely be back in the sequel.

Mike Snoonian

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since 2009 Mike has written about independent horror, science fiction, cult and thrillers through his own blog All Things Horror along with various other spots on the web. Film Thrills marks his attempt to take things up a notch, expand his viewing and writing horizons and to entertain and engage his audience while doing so. When Mike's not writing or watching movies, you can find him reading to his little girl, or doing science experiments with her, or trying to convince her that the term "chicken butt" comes from people putting chicken nuggets down their underwear. at age five, she's too smart to believe most of what he says.

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