Interview with Faux Paws
DIRECTED BY Doug Bari
New Renaissance Film Festival interview actor and director Doug Bari and his co-star Brian Wimer, about their hilarious comedy feature ‘FAUX PAWS’, which will be screened at the New Renaissance Film Festival in Amsterdam (Dutch Premiere), on Saturday 4th March 2017.
Plot: Gay werewolves Brian and Doug escape from a lycanthrope reservation to seek freedom in Maine, the only state with a sanctioned tolerance of werewolves. Hide your meat and cheese. Werewolvin’ ain’t what it used to be.
Hello Doug and Brian. Congratulations on being part of the New Renaissance Film Festival in Amsterdam. How does it feel to have the European premiere of ‘FAUX PAWS’ in the Netherlands?
We are over the moon. Amsterdam is a great city and you will not find kinder people on the face of the planet.
What is the basic premise of the story?
Doug: It takes place in a society where the government has discovered that werewolf saliva has healing qualities, so the government has incarcerated them under the guise of the public’s safety, but really they’re being mined. So our two heroes make a pact to escape and the story unfolds from there. It’s a story about being different. And it’s about tolerance.
Doug, what inspired you to make a feature comedy about werewolves?
It was three-fold. A perfect storm for me as a writer. My brother came for a “once every 10 years” Thanksgiving visit. Proposition 8 went down in California (2007/2008 timeframe), and a mentor who helped establish me as a playwright in my developing years was forced to move to another state with his life partner just so they could get married. I was pissed. Pissed at the discrimination. Maybe even more pissed at myself for not speaking up sooner and more loudly. So I wanted to say something and I figured a comedy was an easier pill to swallow.
You wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in the film. What were the main challenges of juggling all these roles?
I actually loved every moment of it except for breaking two of my ribs on a shot that’s in the film. It was a time for me to be on a set instead of working out of my IT 9-5 cubicle. I was really happy. One night I only slept 47 minutes. And I wasn’t tired. The juggling was a joy.
Brian, you play a very sympathetic werewolf and there are lots of funny moments in the film. How did you prepare for the role?
Funny story. When Doug cast me in the film, the first question I asked was how he wanted me to play it. He said, “Just be yourself.” So, apparently, I am a gay werewolf. I also used to howl a lot in an acting studio Doug and I belonged to. But for me, the character is like any other – just happens to have some interesting traits. He also said I’d be showing a lot of bare midriff. So I worked out for about three months. Ah, vanity. And the one thing I didn’t prepare for was the werewolf costume. It took four hours to get into (all the hair was glued to my skin) – and I actually slept in it to make life easier for the effects dept.
Is there a scene in the film that you found challenging to shoot?
Doug: Anything at night was cold. For me, breaking my ribs early in the morning and then shooting for 10 more hours before going to the emergency room was probably the toughest part. Although 5 days later, I had to do the final fence-jumping shot and I was still pretty tender in the ribcage. Watch the film and you’ll see how we got around that fence jump at the end.
Barry: Healing the boy’s arm – that could have come off as weirder than it was. But I think we got it.
Doug, What would you have done differently on this film?
I would have had a wardrobe person and I would have loved to have had paid everyone who put their hearts and souls into this.
Did you learn anything new as a director from making ‘FAUX PAWS’?
I learned how much fun it is not to do everything yourself. Sure, I can shoot a movie. I can edit a movie. Etc., etc. But, it is SO MUCH MORE FUN inviting skilled artists into your circle and getting to enjoy the magic they bring. There are always things people bring to the table that I haven’t thought of and that excite me.
Have you always wanted to be a filmmaker?
Certainly a writer and actor. I have a long history of theater in my background. The filmmaking thing only became possible for me when everything went digital in the late 90s. That’s when I knew everything was possible.
Was there a film that inspired your ambition to work in film?
Doug: So many.
Barry: Midnight Cowboy.
What advice would you give to a filmmaker starting out?
Doug: Get out there and do it. And find people who want to share the experience with you. It’s such a beautifully organic process when the stars are in alignment. And for everything that doesn’t find its way, learn from it and move on.
Barry: Do everything. Work with people you trust. Expect everything to go wrong. And have no expectations of fame, fortune or career fulfillment … except for the rare opportunities when you get to show your films at cool festivals overseas and feel like you’re doing something meaningful or at least entertaining.
Doug, What do you want people to gain from watching ‘FAUX PAWS’?
Maybe we can sit and laugh and have a communal experience and hopefully you walk away feeling like we said something worthwhile.