Suburban Sasquatch is your third film. How do you feel that your filmmaking skills have improved since you made your first film, Revenge of the Earth Chomping Intergalactic Space Marauder?
There’s a huge amount of knowledge I’ve gained by doing Fungicide in terms of editing and music. And with me in less of an acting role for Suburban Sasquatch I was able to devote a lot more time to directing. Since coordination during filming eats up a lot of your schedule, I had to forgo a lot of “artsy” shots I wanted for Fungicide. Also I’ve also got a great cast that really believed in the material as well, and that takes a load of effort off your hands when you don’t need to explain character motivations or actions. And look at some of that acting! Dave Bonavita really kicked ass in this film, and new additions like Bill Ushler, Sue Lynn Sanchez and Juan Fernandez rounded out the great leads in the film. It was a pleasure to work with all of them – that makes filming easier and more fun.
You like to use CG in your films. There was a noticeable improvement between the CG you used in your first film and the CG in Suburban Sasquatch. Are you using better software or have your skills at CG improved or is it a combination of the two?
I’d have to say I only like using computer generated imagery (CG or CGI) when I absolutely have to. It’s likeable for me from the point of view that I enjoy doing it, and I like being able to put things in that people don’t recognize as CG. But it’s a tool like any other for a filmmaker. I rely on it for some shots, as I just don’t have the budget or the capability to do many effects. As for the improvements, well, I just spent a lot more time and care with the same software, and have learned a lot in the timeframe that I made this film. All it really took was just more time and tweaking and attention to detail. It’s not perfect, and I know I’m near my limit as it is, but that’s ok with me.
Do you see yourself using more CG or less in your future productions? Do you find the amount of time it takes to do the CG work in post makes it somewhat prohibitive to use since you’re doing it all yourself?
I don’t pressure myself with schedules in post-production, so if a CG scene takes 20 hours to do, then so be it. I’ve never complained over how long any of these films take to complete. They’re my projects. If they take 2 years to finish then they take two years. And that includes CG too. I do it myself since it’s easier for me to “get it from my head to the screen” than it is for me to have someone do it for me. With the exception of Tartarus, my next release, I’m going to reduce the CG work since I’d like to challenge myself with more real world effects. The zombie movie I’m currently shooting will have little to no CG effects, as currently planned.
The very beautiful Sue Lynn Sanchez played the main character in Suburban Sasquatch. Do you think she’ll be one of your cast of regulars or was it just a one time deal for her? I assume that when you do the sequel to Suburban Sasquatch that she’ll be back for that, but what about your other films?
Well I can’t reveal anything about the sequels (nice try), and who would or would not be in them! Sue Lynn is another example of some of the great people I got to work with on this film. She’s not only great in front of the camera, but really nice person as well. If a project calls for it, I would not hesitate to ask her to be involved. This was her first film and I think she did a great job. There was a huge challenge in getting Talla from my script to the screen, and Sue Lynn and I talked at length about how the character would come across and be portrayed. Sue Lynn hit the character dead on.
Bigfoot isn’t used in too awful many films. What first gave you the idea to do a bigfoot film?
I always was afraid of him – still am to this day! I remember my brother and I hiding behind my Dad when any Bigfoot documentaries would come on. And I always knew that I would make a Bigfoot film some day. Other films treat him like every other lame monster out there; a one-dimensional “un-human thing” driven by some simple motivation. To me, Bigfoot deserves more than that. Although Suburban Sasquatch doesn’t give you the full story of this creature, it sets you up for a very interesting background. I think there was this untapped potential to try something different, to give him the deep, mythological past he deserved.
Your version of the bigfoot creature has a mystical and spiritual aspect to it that’s unique in comparison to the more normal bigfoot stories. What are your thoughts on introducing that aspect to the creature, and how do you feel it worked out in the end?
Films are motivated by the bottom line. It wouldn’t be called “show business” if that wasn’t the case. I’m not part of that system, and I’m doing this film for me. That’s it. You won’t find any studio risking money and an audience over a story like this! They are motivated by what the audience demands in terms of black and white/good and evil, and the money that accompanies those expectations. They need to function like a business, and they need to work in that manner. I don’t have to operate that way. I knew there was a risk in writing so many religious and thematic angles into a horror film, but that’s what I wanted to see. And that means I have the freedom to create complex villains (if you choose to see Bigfoot as a villain). I wanted a story that was respectful of him, as well as deep. I’m sure if anyone did a little research on Bigfoot (after seeing Suburban Sasquatch) they’d find that a lot of the gaps and unexplained phenomena in these legends and stories are explained in Suburban Sasquatch. Of course, we’ve only seen one part of Bigfoot in Suburban Sasquatch. His whole story isn’t told yet. I designed this film as a trilogy. I’ve written the other two parts, and maybe someday I’ll film them. Either way, I got the story out of me. I think that’s the goal of any artist. Suburban Sasquatch definitely exceeded my goals. I get it. And I’ve gotten feedback from some fans who do get it also. I think in time, when the film matures, people will see these themes rise to the forefront of the film also.
The bigfoot costume was rather impressive. Tell us how it was assembled and maybe talk a little about the overly endowed aspects of the costume and if you intended to make it that way or if that’s just how it happened to come out. I mean, if you shaved that thing down and put a half shirt on it, it could get a job at Hooters.
Ha ha ha! If he gets a job at Hooters, I will never eat there. There were specific design requirements that I wanted met for the costume, since I needed him to evoke certain aspects of humanity as well as animals. Sarah Schneider (Production Designer) and I spent a lot of time reviewing ideas and discussing what the costume should be like. I think she did an incredible job, allowing me to generate ideas and not be burdened down with building the suit part of the costume, and I gave her a very, very tight budget to work with. Sarah spent a lot of time designing the movement and flow characteristics. There are several sexual characteristics to Bigfoot that I wanted to make sure came out, since it’s very integral to the story. People have mentioned those and do recognize it on the surface. But the real question I have for you, is: do you see these characteristics as different from those you’d see in mankind?
You just finished another film that’s in post production now, and you’re in pre-production on yet another film. Tell us something about your next one and when we can expect to see it, and then tell us about the new one you’re working on. It’s a zombie movie isn’t it?
Right now I’m editing Tartarus. I expect a release in the next few months for it. There’s a lot of interesting techniques I’ve applied to this film, in terms of effects and music, and I wanted to do something really off the wall. It’s quite different from anything I’ve done before. I wrote the film specifically with Juan Fernandez in mind. I knew he could pull off what I was planning on doing. Joining Juan is a new entry for me, Sarah Lakshmi who does a great job in her first film. I’ve also got Lori McKeon in for a bigger role than she played in Suburban Sasquatch. And of course I couldn’t do a film without Dave Weldon being in there! It’s a very, very dark film. The release after that, the film I’m shooting right now, is a zombie film, and it’s another horror/comedy like Fungicide. That’s been a lot of fun. Mary and I spent a lot of time writing this, and have a really great cast put together. Lots of blood in that one!
Just as an aside question, what other things do you like to do? What are your other hobbies, and do you find that filmmaking keeps you from doing them as much as you’d like to, or do you manage to find the time to fit everything in?
Well, I’m not going to lie. Filmmaking is taking up so much of my time it’s not even funny. But there are lots of other hobbies I have fun with (model rocketry, exercising, video games), besides Mary and I going out with friends or just hanging out together. You get home from work and you have choices of what you want to do with your life. I simply don’t want mine to end up being full of bullshit. My parents gave me a great start in life, now it’s up to me to make it worthwhile. And that means entertaining people – be it through laughs, some scares, or something to think on. And these films don’t make themselves. Give me a nickel for every person who says they’re going to do a film! A lot of people give up and don’t want to make the effort. I want to make the effort.
If you’d like to find out more about Dave and his films, you can visit the Troubled Moon Films website at http://www.troubledmoonfilms.com.