“The Person You Put Up There Ain’t the Person That Comes Back”: Directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer on Pet Sematary

The filmmaking tandem of Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer (the team behind Starry Eyes) talk about their new version of Pet Sematary in my latest piece for Filmmaker Magazine.

Here’s Kölsch on how the filmmakers began working together decades ago as teenagers on Long Island:

Kölsch: We’re from the same area and knew people in common, so we’d see each other at parties or on the basketball court. As far as working together, we were both already writing on our own [before we became friends]. I had just written a script for a screenwriting class when I ran into Dennis at a mutual friend’s house. Our friend was like “Dennis, you write scripts? Kevin wrote a script too.” I lived around the corner, so we walked over to my house and I showed Dennis some stuff. From there we started showing each other our work and giving each other feedback.

We decided that while our other friends were getting together and drinking on Friday nights, we’d try to be productive. So we’d get together, bring our word processors, get some beers and play some music to make it fun. We’d work on pages of our scripts and at the end of the night we’d show each other and give feedback. That turned into helping each other—like if one of us got stuck on a scene, he’d turn to the other and say “I’ve got a problem.” So slowly we started contributing to each other’s scripts and eventually it was like “Why aren’t we just writing these together?”

And here’s Widmyer on the decision for “Jud” actor John Lithgow to not attempt the Maine accent used by Fred Gwynne in the original film:

Widmyer: That was an ongoing back-and-forth with John. At first he was up for it, but then he read the book and saw that our interpretation in the script was different. In the book King leans more into the folksiness of Jud and the locality of him. He’s like the quintessential Maine character. But [the accent] is kind of a no-win situation. If you nail it, you’re going to sound like Fred Gwynne, and if you don’t nail it, then you don’t sound like Fred Gwynne, who did a pretty good job with it.

John actually knew Fred. They’d been in a play together and he’d always joke that Fred was the only actor that was ever taller than him, because Fred was 6’5″ and John is 6’4″. He has a lot of respect for Fred Gwynne and so he purposefully didn’t watch the first film. We talked about it a lot and John tried the accent in the read-through and we all thought it was great, but in the end we left the decision up to John. He decided to go his own way and we were actually really happy that he did.

Interview: Director Lowell Dean talks Another WolfCop

When it comes to pitching WolfCop flicks, writer/director Lowell Dean has a knack for dreaming up enticing amalgamations. He pegged the initial installment as Teen Wolf meets Bad Lieutenant. He’s labeled the follow-up Another WolfCop – now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD – as a cross between Gremlins, Slap Shot, Strange Brew, and Lethal Weapon. It’s an apt description of the lycanthropic sequel’s mixture of comedy, action, beer, gore, and hockey.

This time around the plot finds the titular hirsute law enforcement officer (again played by Leo Fafard) battling shape-shifting aliens whose scheme to take over the Canadian berg of Woodhaven involves impregnating its citizenry via a hearty new stout.

Continue onward as Dean talks Kevin Smith cameos, the importance of a kick ass poster in the age of streaming, and the challenges of capturing explosions, werewolf lovemaking, car chases, and alien baby berths in a 17-day shooting schedule.


 

When we talked about the original WolfCop back in early 2015, you had the sequel script ready to go and were hoping to get financing in time to shoot that summer. Did that ultimately happen or did production get pushed?

Lowell Dean: Oh, it got pushed! By almost two years. Development on the sequel was almost as much of a journey as production itself. The first film was very modest (a budget of about 1 million Canadian) and it was more a mystery film than an action film. Everyone involved agreed that the sequel needed to up the ante in terms of action and practical effects, which of course meant (we needed) more money. In the end, the producers pulled together just over 2 million but it took more time. Over that period the script underwent several revisions. We changed the villain. The setting changed from winter to summer and then back to winter. To be honest, there was a stretch of time when I thought the sequel just wasn’t going to happen. Continue Reading ›

Director Johannes Roberts on 47 Meters Down

Check out my talk with 47 Meters Down director Johannes Roberts from Filmmaker Magazine. The film sneakily made over $40 million at the box office after initially being set for a straight-to DVD release. In fact, the DVDs were made, shipped, and even ended up on a few store shelves before they were pulled in favor of a theatrical release.

Here’s a few quotes from the story:

Continue Reading ›