Q&A with “Hair of the Dog” filmmaker Michael Butts

A. Quinton — Jun. 26th 2015

In May I posted about Michael Butts’ fundraising efforts for his short film “I’m a Werewolf, but that’s OK!”. Today I’m happy to share with you a short Q&A with Michael, as well as some news about the film’s length (it’s getting longer) and title (it’s changing).

The questions and answers were done via email, and when he sent his answers back, Michael mentioned that the film’s title is now the simpler, punchier, alcoholism-alluding “Hair of the Dog”. He also plans to shoot the film as a feature, rather than a short, which is a good move for something so character-driven. “With everything that I want to put into the story,” he says, “I think it will be more beneficial not to rush and instead fully develop the characters.”

Planning and shooting a feature is a hell of a lot more work than shooting a short, but Michael hasn’t increased his $10,000 fundraising goal. As you’ll read below, this is a project driven by enthusiasm and a need to tell the story. I have a feeling any sacrifices necessary to turn “Hair of the Dog” into a feature will come at the expense of Michael’s time and energy, rather than the budget. That’s the kind of dedication I was talking about earlier this week with League of STEAM, and it makes me glad to see!

AQ: What’s a filmmaking achievement from your own career that you’re especially proud of?

MB: I’ve only been a filmmaker for a short time, but I’d have to say that producing and directing a music video for a local band ‘Sleep Nation’ would have to be the achievement I’m most proud of thus far. Overall, it was a blast to make and the band was beyond satisfied with the finished product. It’s always a good feeling when the client is pleased with your work and even more so when they’re eager to work with you again.

The great teaser trailers you’ve shared reveal a man dealing with the consequences of his, shall we say, unruly behaviour. At the risk of inviting spoilers, will the film spend any time showing this bad behaviour as it happens? (This is my long-winded way of asking “will we get to see the werewolf?”)

Absolutely! What’s a werewolf film without a werewolf, right?

What’s the one thing you’re most excited about in the production of this short film, other than completing it and getting it out in front of an audience?

The experience alone is exciting enough for me. Working with fun, professional people who enjoying doing what I love is what excites me most about this project or any project I’m apart of. Of course, making a film about a werewolf doesn’t hurt any.

Given the teaser trailers and the synopsis on the GoFundMe page, it’s tempting to make some assumptions about possible themes in the film – rebuilding bridges, making amends, and seeking acceptance and redemption, all while still harbouring the monster that made all that penance necessary. The werewolf is a great representation of those concepts, but did you choose to make a short film about a werewolf for additional (or completely different) reasons?

I wanted to make a film about a werewolf for a while now. I’m a huge fan of the classic monster, but I wanted to do something different, something original, something we haven’t really seen before. Make him relatable.  Also, I wanted addiction to play an integral part with telling this story. I thought what better way than to use the werewolf as the prime symbol of addiction and what it can do to the person and to their friends and family. One way or another, addiction affects us all. Not all addictions are as severe as others, but we all have them, whether it’s an addiction to shopping, drugs, alcohol, or even murder (I’m talking about you, Dexter Morgan).

GoFundMe supporters will get a digital copy, but what other plans do you have for getting the completed film in front of audiences?

My plan is to submit the film in to every possible film festival that I can.  Also hope to upload to VOD, Hulu, and Amazon, etc. I want everyone to be able to have an opportunity to watch my film, especially the ones who have a love for werewolves.

Facebook says you’re a fan of my arch-rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks, who recently won the Stanley Cup. What if a mysterious stranger offered you a deal that would guarantee your film gets funded in exchange for Chicago having lost the Cup to Tampa Bay?

Oh man, now that’s a tough decision. Why would you ask that? I suppose in this situation, I’d probably take the deal if only for the simple reason that there will always be other hockey games next season, but only one opportunity for me to make this first film!

As a Vancouver Canucks fan, I’m used to consoling myself with the knowledge that there will be other hockey games next season. Thanks to Michael for taking the time to answer my questions!

If you couldn’t already tell, I have a good feeling about Hair of the Dog. Shooting starts in October, and I want Michael to have the budget he needs. Please do have a look at the newly edited promo at the top of this post (or here), and check out the GoFundMe campaign for news and more details.