EXCLUSIVE: I recently had a chat with Another Wolfcop director Lowell Dean ahead of the highly anticipated sequel’s Canadian debut at the Fantasia Film Fest in Montreal on July 29, 2017. We spoke about what to expect on the follow-up to his cult classic Wolfcop, as well as his next feature Supergrid and the comic series he’s working on called Atomic Victory Squad.
From director Lowell Dean (Wolfcop, Supergrid) comes the sequel that everybody has been craving for years now – Another Wolfcop. Making its debut at the Fantasia Film Fest in Montreal on July 29, 2017, the film stars Leo Fafard, Amy Matysio, Jonathan Cherry, Laura Abramsen, Yannick Bisson, Jessica Hinkson, Serena Miller and Kevin Smith.
Alcoholic werewolf cop Lou Garou springs into action when an eccentric businessman with evil intentions seduces Woodhaven’s residents with a new brewery and hockey team in this outrageous horror-comedy sequel.
Keven: Wolfcop was a lot of fun when it came out and I’ve been waiting on the sequel for a while now. Another Wolfcop is hitting Fantasia Fest this month in Montreal – do you have any idea when we might be getting a wider release in Canada?
Lowell: I’ve been told there will be a theatrical release with Cineplex before the end of the year. We’re just trying to find a weekend that works for everybody because we don’t want a little Canadian indie to come out in Summer and just get creamed.
Keven: Even though I haven’t seen it yet, I’ve been told to expect more gore, more laughs, more crazy shit – was Leo game for everything in this movie or did anything freak him out knowing he’d have to be front and center of the chaos?
Lowell: He might roll his eyes and mumble “oh my god” under his breath but Leo has yet to say “I refuse to do that”. There’s definitely some times where he’ll say “Are you serious? Come on” but no, he’s wonderful. He was introduced to the chaos early, months before we started working. He’s seen drawings, read the script and talked to Emersen (Ziffle, the practical effects and makeup master behind the franchise). I feel like it may have been more shocking for the other actors who just showed up on set later.
Keven: The newbies who are joining the Wolfcop family – was there a sequence in the new movie that you thought might have freaked any of them out in particular?
Lowell: Not really, but maybe the sex scene. The things that may have shocked people in the first film, suddenly became what everyone really wanted to see in the next film, so I didn’t have to sell anyone on a dick shot or weird sex scene. It was pretty much expected this time.
Keven: That’s right, because those were the two gags that everyone seemed to really love and remember the most from Wolfcop: the prison sex scene and of course that initial transformation which starts with Lou’s dick. Was there a conscious effort on your part to top those sequences?
Lowell: For me personally, I hate repeating things that have been done before. I understand that you have to be familiar and know what makes a character in this world work, but if you want the same sex scene or dick shot, just watch the first film. What excited me this time was “what could we do that would be even weirder and more shocking that noone would expect watching this movie.”
There are variations — like the sex scene (in another Wolfcop), I think is actually more shocking…
Keven: Kevin Smith was revealed to be the mayor in the sequel – and he kind of got looped into this thing while he was scouting locations for Moose Jaws – talk to me about how that came about?
Lowell: Yeah he was in Saskatchewan at the time and my producers called and just made it happen. We always knew that we had a couple roles that were designed to be cameos and could be shot in one day so we thought it would be cool to swing for the fences and try to get a bigger name and he was always someone that’s been on our list. I honestly only had 48 hours notice and we didn’t have anyone to play that character, then the day before he walked onto the set and said “Hey, I guess I’m in your movie”.
Keven: When Smith joined the film did his casting change the dynamic of the character in any way?
Lowell: It was fairly similar but obviously when you have someone like Kevin Smith, who is so clever, the only changes were to the dialog and we let him say whatever he wanted as long as the intent remained the same. Every single take he gave us something better and more hilarious.
Keven: Because Smith is one of the best filmmakers of our generation – how intimidating was it to direct the director of Clerks and Mallrats?
Lowell: I would’ve been intimidated if it hadn’t been for him. Literally the first thing he said to me was “I’ve been in your shoes so rest assured I’m here to do whatever you want.” I was nervous at first but as soon as he said that we just started sharing weird ideas for the character with each other.
Keven: Will there ever be a third Wolfcop, or is this it for a while?
Lowell: I don’t know, It’ll depend on the reaction for sure, but I love the characters and the world, so it wouldn’t take much to get me to do another one. I’ve been in Wolfcop fatigue since the second one so I was hoping to get a bit of break and luckily I was able to get one and I might even be able to do a couple others before we even think about a new Wolfcop. I would never say never as long as we got the same budget or more as Another Wolfcop, but I do think it should be a trilogy at the very least.
Keven: Let’s talk your next film — Supergrid. I’m a MASSIVE fan of post-apocalyptic cinema – everything from Stake Land to Fury Road (shoutout to that crew for filming Stake Land 2 in your territory by the way!)
Lowell: Yes! They used a lot of the same crew.
Keven: Leo popped up in that movie too which blew my mind.
Lowell: He got shot in the dick.
Keven: That was awesome – I had to rewind that scene to make sure it was him. Sure enough.
Lowell: I think he even ended up working on the crew for that film too.
Keven: I loved that movie. I love everything post-apocalyptic and Supergrid falls into that category, can you tell me how the idea for it came about?
Lowell: Supergrid was written by T.R. McCauley and Justin Ludwig, and they developed the concept with Hugh Patterson and Leo Fafard. Hugh is the producer and this has kind of been his baby and he was producer on the Wolfcop films. After the first Wolfcop he wanted me to do Supergrid and not that I didn’t think it would happen but it was always just little conversations and about six months ago he told me he had government support and that we’re gonna do it so he asked me “Would you do it?” I was a little taken back, and hesitated a little because Supergrid is a really ambitious film, even more-so than Another Wolfcop, but with half the budget. I was appropriately scared but how do you turn down a post-apocalyptic action movie that you can film over the summer with your friends in Saskatchewan. It became less “should I do it” and more “how the hell am I going to do it?”.
Keven: I know Hugh from Calgary Expo promoting the Wolfcop flicks and he’s a really cool guy.
Lowell: He’s a great guy. He’s the one who put it all together and I think he’s the one who commissioned the script and certainly he’s the one who brought me on board and said “you’re directing this whether you like it or not”. You couldn’t pick a better person to work for.
Keven: Would you say that there’s more action in Supergrid than the Wolfcop films?
Lowell: I’d say yes. Wolfcop 2 definitely leans more towards being an action film, which is more of the direction I’m going personally. Wolfcop 1 was slow for the first half and had a bit of action but I describe it as more of a horror comedy. The second Wolfcop, I wouldn’t even call it horror truthfully. It’s more like the energy of the second half of the first film. From the first frame there’s chaos, action, car chases and shoot-outs and it’s not Hollywood level but whatever our little budget could afford we got it going on.
Supergrid again, ups the ante and it’s not wall to wall action, but when we are doing an action scene we’re taking it seriously and we storyboarded like 20 pages for one fight scene. We’ve got drones and multiple units, so we definitely pushed it as hard as we can with what we have.
Keven: Can you tease anything about the story in Supergrid?
Lowell: It’s a post-apocalyptic action movie, about two brothers who are not getting along but are forced into a vehicle on a suicide mission on the Supergrid – which is basically like the number one highway, if it was the high seas and instead of pirates there’s all these enemy jackals and if you pull over, you’re gonna get mugged or killed.
Keven: What’s the tone that you’re aiming for on this one, is it going to be more over the top or something darker and serious like The Road?
Lowell: It’s interesting. We’re finding the tone right now in the editing phase. For me, I can’t help but put humor in, but this is not a comedy. The tone is definitely more of an action movie, with some swashbuckling and shades of Die Hard and Lethal Weapon.
Keven: I like the new cast too – some familiar faces of course but also some welcome additions.
Lowell: It’s a weird mix. I was looking at the cast and it’s basically Wolfcop 3. The ratio is 1-1. For every new person we bring into the fold, there’s a member of the Wolfcop family. What’s fun about this movie though is they aren’t playing the same type of characters.
Keven: Do you ever see a time one day where there won’t be a part for Leo in one of your movies?
Lowell: It’s funny, definitely I do. Leo had the job on Supergrid before I did though, because he was helping to develop it. I was more like, “do you feel bad for getting stuck with me again?” I’m sure there will come a time where we aren’t working together but I would never begrudge working with Leo because he is awesome. From Wolfcop 1 to Supergrid he has grown so much as an actor. He’s so professional and because he comes from the crew mentality, you will not find less of a diva than Leo Fafard. When he is not acting, he doesn’t go to his trailer and sleep, he’s on set helping the crew, lighting scenes. He’s holding things and building things. He built the main hero car on Supergrid. It’s insane what he does.
Keven: I don’t know if that’s just where he comes from, or if that’s a Canadian thing but nobody does that.
Lowell: I don’t think it’s just a Canadian thing, because he takes it above and beyond that. He comes from crew and he understands crew. You never have to look for Leo. If anything he’ll be sleeping in the chair next to you and you’ll just have to say wake up Leo, time for your scene. He’s wonderful.
Keven: He’s probably going to be so happy when he doesn’t have to wear the full Wolfcop suit to conventions anymore too.
Lowell: Oh god. In the summer? The way we were shooting in the summer – he would’ve died.
Keven: It’s been a brutally hot summer too – do you think he’s gonna suit up for Fantasia Fest?
Lowell: I don’t know if he is. I don’t think we have any plans for it. It’s nice every now and then for him to just be himself.
Keven: So you’re editing Supergrid now – are you hoping for a 2018 release for that one?
Lowell: I’d be surprised if it didn’t come out next year. We’ll have it ready by the end of this year.
Keven: Let’s talk comics. First off – loved the Wolfcop issues that came out and really added to the lore and world of that character, but you’re now developing a brand new original series called Atomic Victory Squad. What inspired this new venture outside directing film?
Lowell: I’ve always loved creating characters and coming up with larger-than-life universes and through the experience of Wolfcop, as rewarding as it was, what was in my head, the writing was always much more than we could afford. So Atomic Victory Squad was my reaction out of frustration from planning these epic fight scenes that we wound up only having one day to shoot and I’d be like, “no, we gotta let them go through five walls!’ so it turned into, “well, until I get to that level, I have to do something else”. So I had these other characters I’d been developing and I started showing them to Emersen Ziffle, and he was like “we have to do this”. He designed the maquette that we had on displays at the Expos. I showed him issue one that I wrote years ago, then we brought in an artist – Joel Hustak and we’re gonna crowdfund it probably in the Fall.
We’re kinda on the downlow of when we’re going to crowdfund it though because I hate it when crowdfunding isn’t prepared. We want to make sure when we pull the trigger and ask people for money that there’s no doubt of when it’s coming out.
Keven: It’s interesting that Atomic Victory Squad was a result of your frustrations of making a movie on a limited budget so you now could make a comic and be free to just let loose creatively, but you have to know in the back of your head, and when you have a friend like Emersen who probably wants to do make-up for the characters, do you worry that someone might wanna turn it into a movie?
Lowell: No no. Frankly I think Atomic Victory Squad is too big for a movie. You’ll see in issue one, it has Godzilla-like showdowns so I think it could be an animated series for sure. That’s definitely a dream of mine but for right now I want to control the pace and for everything to be such high quality, that we’re taking baby steps. Right now we’re obsessed with creating the ultimate first issue of a comic ever. Joel’s taking way too much time illustrating it because he wants it do be his showpiece. Emersen is going to have all these amazing maquettes of every character before we’re done too. I’m lucky to have such great friends when I have these ideas.
Keven: I love the look of it so far and it’s super over-the-top which is great, but what’s the tone of the book going to be – more mature rated?
Lowell: It’s a weird thing and almost along the lines of a Wolfcop tone where it kind of seems PG, until someone’s head gets ripped off or there’s a weird sex scene. It’ll have both of those kinds of things in spades. It’s all about letting your freak flag fly and it’s all these characters I created years ago, but they’re still relevant today. Even though they’re silly, there’s a serious undertone and message about fitting in and being an outsider, kind of like X-Men. Each of these characters represents something, from racism to mental illness, to accepting people who are different sexually, it’s a really interesting mix of characters but it’s also a lot of crazy fun.
Keven: Were you inspired by any other comics or creators out there?
Lowell: We’re still learning and I’m sure we’re making a million mistakes and in hindsight I maybe should have partnered with people who are more experienced than me but part of the joy is we’re all learning together. Emersen and Joel – I don’t know more talented or hardworking people so we’re kind of stumbling towards it. I know some people in the comic book industry and have been reaching out for some advice.
Keven: I am happy that the series is gearing towards a more adult audience too – I just wasn’t sure because just the look of the comic is so bizarre.
Lowell: It’s that weird tone where it does feel playful, but it’s kind of in that world of something like The Venture Bros. which really inspired me, because how can this thing be so full of throwbacks, but also so weird, sadistic, sexy and violent. That’s the closest tone I can think of – Venture Bros. meets Bojack Horseman meets Justice League.
Keven: Do you have a full first story arc planned out yet?
Lowell: I know the first graphic novel, which in my mind is the first three issues, so I’ve written issue one and that one is going to be super sized, around 40 pages. Two and three will complete the arc of their origin story and introduction to the world. I needed to have enough time in issue one to introduce all of these characters and still have enough action so people aren’t being ripped off. Two and three will get deeper into the lore and by the end of issue 3, you’ll know the world and hopefully audiences will want more by that point.
Keven: What’s next after editing Supergrid and working on the comic – any other films you’re working on?
Lowell: I’m kind of brainstorming and working on a new script that’s too early to talk about and I might have a couple other freelance gigs and another feature before the end of the year, much like Supergrid which isn’t something I wrote — but directed. I’m excited about the opportunity.