More Accessible and Less Off-Putting: A(nother) Q&A with WigWolf
He's got a new take on "The Wizard of Oz" that needs your support.
Previously on Moviegoing with Bill, I interviewed filmmaker Wigwolf about his completely maddening opus on misfit-ing and what it’s like to be strange, The Wet Ones:
Now, he’s got a new project cooking.
A trip to Oz. From The Wizard of Oz, really. And, judging by his Wet Ones, I can only assume…
Maybe I should leave my assumptions behind. The following is a brief Q&A with Wigwolf, about his new take, his old influences, and his relations with that place over the rainbow.
The film is currently seeking funding on IndieGoGo.
What is the significance of The Wizard of Oz to you, and why make this interpretation of the tale now?
The Wizard of Oz and Return to Oz were two of my favorite movies as a child. I liked all the random weirdo characters and creepy villains.
I had wanted to make a movie based on the work of Flannery O'Connor, the southern gothic writer. But I thought meshing that with the Wizard of Oz for no reason would make something new and original. So that's what I am trying to do.
Are there expectations you feel with this project, being the director of the offbeat and entirely mad movie The Wet Ones?
I don't feel any expectations. I feel like if there are any they are pretty low. But I'm not trying to top The Wet Ones. This will probably be a much tamer movie, and it will be a lot more straightforward. So far everyone who has read the script can get the story and characters in one read. So it should be more accessible and less off-putting than The Wet Ones.
How do you feel about Kickstarting (on IndieGoGo) your latest work, and about crowdfunding independent and underground cinema in general?
Crowdfunding is good for motivation, and support, and also good for getting a modest budget. I think it's a great thing but it's hard for indie weird stuff to get funding. If you do a slasher movie or fan film of a popular character like Jason or Freddy, it’s way easier to get funding. With the creative stuff, it's an uphill battle.
Who is your "desert island” actress to play Dorothy, and why?
The actress I cast: Arly Canales! She is perfect for the role. But if I were gonna pick a celebrity it would be Jill Banner from Spider Baby. She died before I was born.
This is great timing, as I’m revisiting David Lynch’s Wild at Heart, which was partially influenced by the Judy Garland Wizard of Oz film. I don’t believe that your style of filmmaking is at all similar to Lynch's, but I know a WigWolf production when I see one. How has The Wizard of Oz’s story and legacy inspired some of the more popular contemporary directors, and what do you think of David Lynch in terms of modern gonzo and absurd cinema?
John Waters attempted to make a live-action Wizard of Oz movie early in his career but I guess it didn't work out. I've seen some stills from it.
And David Lynch's Wild At Heart has so many cool references to the 30s film adaptation. It always stuck out to me, especially as a teenager watching his movies. Seeing the Good Witch pop up was just so random and fun and it was awesome to see a movie do something like that.
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I guess you can see the story's influence in a lot of places. I feel like Star Wars is pretty similar if you think of Luke Skywalker as Dorothy. Same with Anakin Skywalker or Spider-Man. It seems like a lot of characters go on a similar sort of journey to Dorothy. Which involves leaving home and making weird friends and then killing someone. It's a very common archetype.
I always liked David Lynch and, as a child, he was probably my introduction to unconventional film and storytelling. I remember being a little child and hearing old people talk about Twin Peaks, and it sounded so weird and crazy. Then when I was in high school I bought the VHS set and also watched Blue Velvet. All that stuff was just so much fun.
I recently read about Inland Empire, how David Lynch shot it on a Mini DV camcorder, and how it was all weird. I love stuff like that, it's cool that he never sold out. Especially in an era when some of the greatest indie filmmakers were snatched up by Disney early in their careers and ended up wasting their talents on lame superhero movies. He's lucky that Dune was a failure and that he was saved from becoming another Hollywood hack.
Obviously the higher the budget, the easier it is to make an indie flick. What will you do if you don’t reach your IndieGoGo goal? In what other ways can moviegoers support the production?
I will still finish the movie. But I will do all the fx myself instead of outsourcing the most important ones. I mean it's nice to get the funding and see that people support your vision and care about independent art. But you have to make the movie either way.
I always identified with Scarecrow and Toto. Do you have favorite characters from any of the movies or books, and if so - why?
I always related to Dorothy. Feeling displaced, confused, and hunted by an evil witch. Judy Garland's performance is iconic. I probably relate to her too. She was a very tortured person.
Rate these films from zero to five, and why: The Wizard of Oz, Return to Oz, Oz: The Great and Powerful
The Wizard of Oz and Return To Oz are both five. They are just both so crazy and fun and colorful. Return to Oz is slightly better but both movies are masterpieces. Fairuza Balk is equal to Judy Garland as Dorothy but neither one takes anything away from the other. As a kid I watched these movies back to back, I don't know if it was an official sequel but it didn't matter. I experienced the two movies together as one big story.
I have never seen Oz: The Great and Powerful. I should see it. I have a doll of James Franco from that movie.
It’s interesting how Dorothy’s tale can be examined through the filter of mental healthcare and its public stigma. How do you feel about such themes, and will your film address any of them?
Not so much mental healthcare or public stigma, because this movie is surreal and doesn't have too much comment on society. But it does focus a lot on Dorothy's intense guilt and suffering because of her guilt, and whether or not physically harming herself will absolve her of her sins. I think a lot of people who self-harm probably do it because of some intense feeling of guilt.
If we could sync up any rock album to your film, what would you pick and why?
I would do PIL's Metal Box. It fits the tone of the movie and I love PIL. John Lydon is one of my favorite artists.
Support Wigwolf’s The Wizard of Oz on IndieGoGo now.