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Interview with the director of A Dog's Breakfast, David Hewlett
Tell us about your background and how it prepared you for the making of this film.
I have been making films from the other side of the camera (as an actor) since I was 14. My friends and I used to spend our entire summer vacations causing chaos running around Toronto, Canada armed with an 8mm Cine film camera making short films. They were entirely self-funded and we would beg, borrow or steal equipment, locations and post-production time to get them finished. They were the best "vacations" I ever had. Those experiences were the reason I became a professional actor. Being on Stargate Atlantis has afforded me the time and the money to try to relive those fantastic experiences. This time with me at the helm!
What or who was your inspiration for writing and directing "A Dog's Breakfast"?
My biggest influences for the script were "A Fish Called Wanda", "Fawlty Towers" and the original "Pink Panther". In order to stand out and get noticed, many first time filmmakers go to extreme lengths to be dark, twisted and edgy. Rather than trying to shock people into taking notice of my work, I just wanted to make people laugh. I wanted it to be enjoyably silly. I really liked the idea of all the different aged members of a family being able to sit together and share a giggle. Making those early short films with my friends was the biggest inspiration. But, I also read a lot of books and watched a lot of DVDs in preparation for "A Dog's Breakfast". "Garden State" was a fantastic first film by another actor-turned-director (Zach Braff) that really inspired us to get on with making our own movie. Robert Rodriguez was another huge inspiration. Here is someone who just went out there and made a movie, all on his own. His book "Rebel Without A Crew" is like a road-map to your first film and made it sound so do-able. He had to sell himself for medical research to get the money to fund his work. I just have to save the universe, on Stargate Atlantis. I didn't think we had any excuse not to spend our hiatus making "A Dog's Breakfast".
Is this the first project in which you've starred and directed? How was that experience?
This was the first time I'd ever done two of the three jobs I ended up with on "A Dog's Breakfast"! Directing was completely new to me and it was the skill-set I was most worried about. I have done a fair amount of writing over the years, but this was the first complete script to make it to camera. And then on top of that the fact that I'm actually acting in just about every scene as well -- I don't know what I was thinking! Well, actually I do. It was two less people to feed and schedule around! I would definitely re-think trying to do them all simultaneously again. I kept forgetting to call 'action' or remembered and then forgot my lines, I was a mess! That said, once I got into the swing of it, writing and directing was a dream come true! I was finally able to take part in every aspect of filmmaking. I'd been privy to aspects of it over the years, but seeing a film through from conception to release and even dabbling in the marketing side of things was incredible. I can't wait to do it again! I'm half way through the script for the next project which I'm hoping to have someone else pay for this time! Over 20 years later and I'm still making films during my holidays, and they're still the best "vacations" I could wish for!
You chose to cast several cast mates from Stargate:Atlantis and Stargate SG-1 in your film (your sister Kate, Paul McGillion, Christopher Judge, Rachel Luttrell). What prompted the decision and were you worried it may mislead people about the content of the film (thinking it was sci-fi or associated with Stargate)?
I just worked with my friends and family, it's always worked for me in the past. I know how tough it can be for first time directors and I wanted to surround myself with top-notch and supportive talent. I'd be crazy not to take advantage of those connections! One of the reasons we chose to make Ryan a "sci-fi" actor was to be able to give a little nod to the Stargate fans with his "Starcrossed" clips. So far "A Dog's Breakfast" hasn't been mistaken for a sci-fi movie, so I think we're good, there. The reality is that I knew Stargate audiences were going to be interested in the project so I tried to make a humorous film that would appeal to them. But people outside of the sci-fi world are also enjoying this movie, and it's certainly not exclusively for Stargate fans. If you own a dog you're going to like this as you're in what I call our "Pet-Nerd" audience. That said, the film (and even more so the DVD) certainly has a few giggles that will appeal to those "in the know".
What about the DVD: will there be any extras that you can tell us about?
I can't wait to see the response to the DVD! We've complied a ton of extras that adds a whole new level to the film. We've got a number of "deleted scenes" that are really funny, but just had to go in order keep the running time down. I really miss them, and I'm so glad that now they'll see the light of day. The big seller to me is what Jane has done with the Behind-the-Scenes. Jane Loughman is "A Dog's Breakfast" producer and her background was producing at E! and for Entertaiment Tonight. She's used all those skills to put together a series of mini-documentaries that are so much fun! One of the things that I hate on many DVD's are these repurposed marketing pieces that are dumped on the DVD. You end up having to watch half the film again! We set out from the beginning to have these designed specifically for the DVD and it really shows. This is the kind of DVD that I would buy for the extras!
What do you want your audience to get out of this movie?
I love to make people laugh. I suppose it's the product of being the eldest and only boy in a family of 5 sisters, I'm just desperate for that kind of attention! I made this movie as pure silly entertainment. I wanted to make a new, old-fashioned comedy and I really hope that's how people see it. One of the most rewarding things that happens with "A Dog's Breakfast" is people like it enough to want to quote my own film back to me! That's the kind of response I like to see, because that's how I am about the movies I love.
The big climax, how did you film that?
Very carefully! Jane is such a stickler for detail and she made me re-write that ending section a number of times. She was adamant that there be no "cheats" -- no holes where people could question the timeline and people's motives. When it came to actually shooting it, I was so strapped for time. As it turned out the necessity to jump around with the shots in order to preserve make-up and costumes etc. made it a lot more dynamic than it would have been had I been given all the time I needed. I just wanted a nice spooky reveal that was "tainted" by Patrick's confused and paranoid state-of-mind. I like to think of it as my David Lynch "Murder She Wrote" episode.
What are your favorite movies? What DVDs do you have on your shelf at home?
Wow! There are loads, but here are a few faves, off the top of my head... "A Fish Called Wanda" "Withnail and I" Blake Edward's "The Pink Panther", "A Shot in the Dark" Robert Rodriguez's "El Mariachi", "Desperado", "Sin City" The "Evil Dead" trilogy "Mad Max 2, The Road Warrior" "Garden State" Anything with Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd or Charlie Chaplin in it! "Arsenic and Old Lace" "Sid and Nancy" "Fitzcarraldo" "Blade Runner" Danny Boyle's "Shallow Grave", "28 days later", "Trainspotting", "Millions" "Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind" "Breakfast at Tiffany's" Steven Soderbergh's "Out of Sight", "Solaris"... and just about anything he gets up to!
It's a rather oddball movie for sure, but we like David Hewlett and the other actors who were with him in Stargate and Stargate Atlantis that were involved in this, so that's why... Read morePublished 1 month ago by duckgirl
This movie is excellent. It is a fabulously funny comedy. David Hewlett and Kate Hewlett are the perfect combination.Published 3 months ago by Etna Causey
Very funny and entertaining movie, My wife and I liked it almost as much as Arsenic and Old LacePublished 5 months ago by Tom
|Topic||From this Discussion|
There is some really great "making the movie" extras...good stuff from and about the cast...David, Jane, and John (the movie's star, writers, director, and producers) give commentary throughout and it is very funny, and honestly interesting. And, I NEVER listen to commentary as it... Read More
Oct 23, 2007 by April Jennings | See all 2 posts
I would say PG...there is no swearing, and the "violence" is more slapstick than truly scary. There is some nudity (David's lovely bum), definitely implied murder, and alot of "screaming". But it is all very funny. I think the only disturbing thing for me was that David... Read More
Oct 23, 2007 by April Jennings | See all 3 posts
The DVD has captioning in English, French and Spanish.
Sep 14, 2007 by E. Chennell | See all 2 posts
|Mass Hallucination or Sock Puppetry?||
To each his or her own, but why the obnoxiousness towards the reviewers? Are they not allowed to give a favorable review? And how about some constructive criticism rather than putting the film (and the people involved, including the fans) down?
Apr 30, 2008 by J. | See all 14 posts
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