Film school grad and WolfCop creator returns to campus with a highly unusual promotion of his movie sequel

By Costa Maragos Posted: November 30, 2017 2:00 p.m.

Lowell Dean (l) with Emerson Ziffle (r) return to the U of R to promote their feature film Another WolfCop.
Lowell Dean (l) with Emerson Ziffle (r) return to the U of R to promote their feature film Another WolfCop. Photo - External Relations

It is mighty unusual for a director of a feature film to urge movie goers not to see his film. That was the scene at the Riddell Centre, the day before the world premiere of Another WolfCop, opening at Cineplex theatres across Canada December 1.

Lowell Dean, writer and director of the horror comedy WolfCop (2014) is back with the sequel, Another WolfCop.

Dean, a U of R film studies graduate, showed up on campus with Emerson Ziffle, makeup FX artist and a former U of R student.

Next to a life-sized cut out of Wolfcop, were students signing a petition against the film. Passersby were handed pamphlets which declared  ‘DOWN WITH WOLFCOP! (and) MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD.

Nothing like reverse psychology to draw attention to your movie.

The students got it. So did one of Dean’s former film professors, Gerald Saul, who stood nearby the table, sporting a satisfied smile while marveling at the success of yet another one of his former students. Current students take note. Dreaming of directing a Canadian-made means having to go to extraordinary lengths to promote your work.

We spoke with Dean about his latest film, and his experiences at the U of R which resonate with him more than a decade after his graduation.

What possessed you to come to the U of R campus to promote this film?

WolfCop Set
Lowell Dean (middle) in action on the set of WolfCop which stars Amy Matysio (BFA ’01) and Leo Fafard, who studied drama at the U of R.

We’re a small grassroots film and there’s no marketing dollars right now for Saskatchewan films to get the word out. So we kind of had to get creative and try to think of ways to spread the word locally that might create some attention. Our audience is a younger demographic for sure so we thought, “Why not return to our old stomping grounds and promote it in a ridiculous way?”

What’s been the reaction so far?

So far so good. Much like the movie it’s maybe a third confusion, a third love, and a third, I wouldn’t say anger, but more like ‘what are you doing? Get away from me.’ I think the movie elicits a lot of those feelings as well.

But urging people not to see your movie, seems a little unusual. What got you thinking of that?

We just thought ‘what the heck are we going to do?’ When I was a student here we had a community access show. It was very bad. It was a sketch comedy show. We actually protested it to raise awareness. We got kicked out because we had flyers and banners that said ‘do not watch this show at this time and this channel.’ I think it worked out. So I just associated that fun little memory with this. I thought, well we’ve done the regular promotion, so let’s be weird here.

WolfCop Movie Poster
Another WolfCop debuts December 1 at Cineplex Theatres in Regina and across Canada. View the trailer here.

What’s it like being back on campus?

It’s weird. It’s really weird. I don’t come here often. I don’t think I’ve set foot here in five years and I graduated from here a pretty long time ago. It’s been more than ten years. It’s one of those things that I remember what it was like being at a certain age and now everyone here is a kid

What did it mean to you taking film studies here?
It was a wonderful experience for me. I always knew I loved film and I don’t really think I appreciated it at the time, but looking back many of the people that I worked with and many of my friends are people that I met in the program.

What do you carry from that program to this day?

Just a basic understanding of cinema. You have to know the rules before you can break the rules. I learned a lot of things that I carry over every day in my writing or my directing. Even with something as ridiculous as WolfCop.

What does it mean for you to see your idea of WolfCop evolve into a sequel?

It’s hugely important to me. I don’t even think I can put into words how hugely important it is. I am very aware of the rareness of getting to make a movie in Saskatchewan and more importantly getting it in theatres across Canada and the U.S. Like that doesn’t happen. That’s rare. I mean you get things like Corner Gas, but even when I was going to school here I never dreamed that we would make a movie that would be in theatres. To be in Cineplex with this movie is crazy.”

What’s your advice to current film students now that you have experienced the real world of making movies?

It’s really tough in the real world. Enjoy your time in school. Start learning about what’s out there in the world and how you will be unique because I think there’s such an oversaturation of people wanting to make movies now. Unless you have a voice, even if it’s super weird, nobody is going to care. There are enough filmmakers. Just be yourself.

There appears to be a huge number of people on the set with U of R connections. What’s that like for you?  

You could throw a rock on the set and you’d hit someone who is a film graduate or had some role at the University. Probably the most prominent are the producers. Hugh Patterson and Bernie Fernando are both film grads. Again, these are people that went to school either with me or a year or two later and we just found each other making short films. You make five or ten shorts films and you realize you can count on them.

What’s next for you?

I don’t know. It’s a constant state of flux. We did a movie called SuperGrid. It’s like a mad max movie - set in Saskatchewan. We shot it in the summer. (now in post-production). After that I’m just debating if I can continue living in Saskatchewan or make the inevitable move to such places as Toronto or Vancouver.

Lowell Dean earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Video Studies in 2002. Another WolfCop premieres at Cineplex Theatres in Regina and across Canada December 1.