A Conversation With Brendan Jackson Rogers
There aren't many movies that come along that truly need very little to no introduction.
You just know immediately that you're going to either love or hate the film based on the title or the box art alone.
Bubba the Redneck Werewolf is exactly that kind of movie, but with a twist.
It's not just silly funny, it's smart funny and that is what sets Bubba apart.
BVB: Blood Violence and Babes was thrilled to have the opportunity to speak by phone with Brendan Jackson Rogers, the director of Bubba the Redneck Werewolf. In between fits of spontaneous laughter, the conversation was both enlightening and entertaining. I hope you agree.
BVB: So thank you so much. Like I said, this is one of those special movies that I am so thrilled to be able to promote through my website and also other avenues because I want people to see it. How did you get involved with Bubba the Redneck Werewolf? Were you a fan of the comics going back to the ‘90s?
BR: Well, you know, I had heard of the comics for a while, but actually our line producer, Caitlyn Foster, was mutual friends with Mitch Hyman, the comic book writer. To be completely honest with you, all he had to say was the title of the movie and I was hooked.
BR: It’s one of those titles where you don’t even need to pitch the movie. It says it all right there. It’s a movie you’re going to like or a movie you’re going to run the hell away from. But for me, it sounded awesome. I was hooked by the title alone.
BVB: That’s amazing, and that’s kind of how I am. There was a movie, and I’m sure you’ve probably seen it, Wolfcop, that came out I think last year or the year before that kind of falls into the same genre, kind of horror-comedy but also focused on werewolves, which not enough movies are, in my opinion. And I felt like you hit the same tone and the same, just kind of – there was this, I don’t know how to describe it, but the entire time I was watching your movie I was smiling. I felt good, you know? (Laughing) I was just having a good time watching it.
BR: That’s awesome. Thank you.
BVB: You’re welcome. Now the comics were different in the beginning, right? The comics started out kind of real horror-based and then at some point kind of developed this more subversive, kind of social study of people who are not necessarily the upper crust. Did that kind of infuse the film, more how the comics had changed?
BR: Well, uh, yeah. As you said, the original idea for Bubba was more of a kind of horrific, kind of mean-spirited character, and that worked well for Mitch, but along the lines Mitch decided to turn it more into a comedic style and Steve’s script – Steve Biro, who wrote the script – I thought did a great job kind of capturing the tone of the comedic comics. There’s numerous changes from the comics to the screenplay, like for instance, the origin of Bubba in the comics, it’s Bubba gets bit by a radioactive poodle and that’s how he turns into a werewolf. (Laughs) Steve went the more Faustian approach and had the deal with the Devil.
BR: I will say even though there are certain character changes and stuff like that, it was important that the tone of the comic was maintained. Kind of a fun-loving, comedic style. And that was really important to me too when we were filming it in terms of visual style. I tried to actually match a lot of the visuals that are in the comic. Not that necessarily the movie is based on any particular issue of the comic, but all of the background gags and stuff like that are definitely in the same spirit of the comics.
BVB: And that was one of the things I wanted to ask you about because I was really blown away by the attention to detail. And I kept doing this while I was watching it – I would freeze the frame and I would, because I’m old and getting blind, get up and walk up to the TV. Like the motivational posters where it’s ‘Nature is working hard,’ ‘Dolphins are working hard’…
BVB: I mean, how much input did you have? Was that Steve or was that you kind of also being involved and saying, let’s really give a three-dimensional palette here where there’s stuff going on in the foreground but also in the background?
BR: That was actually – that was my producing partner Will Phillips and I. That’s kind of our approach to comedy. Our first feature, Flashback, was shot entirely on a blue screen so it’s all digital sets, and it’s a comedy too, it’s a sci-fi comedy, so we were able to create the entire world so there’s tons of background gags in that. So we kind of took a page from that. It thrills me beyond belief to hear you say you paused through stuff because that’s exactly what I like. Multiple viewings and stuff to kind of get the layers of jokes upon jokes kind of thing.
BVB: It’s phenomenal. That’s why I keep telling people, you have to watch this movie more than once because little things – Hogs on Hogs, Barkham Asylum. I mean there’s so many ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it. The Endless Yummy Buffet is Endless Jimmy Buffett.
BVB: It was just non-stop, which I really dug because so many films don’t – especially smaller, independent, lower-budget films – just don’t take the kind of care to do that.
BR: Yeah, I think film is about the details. It’s about the tiny details. And what was more important to me with Bubba was that we really create that world of Cracker County, make that feel like a real place. I think you do that, obviously, with attention to the art department and design and stuff like that, but I think you can do that through jokes too. The comedic tone is consistent through the entire town and all the visuals.
BVB: One of the things that I – I think if you tell people you want them to watch a movie called Bubba the Redneck Werewolf, they’re going to immediately think, ‘Oh lord.’ And when I was a kid I used to really like – there was a film that just came out and I think Kino Lorber just released it on Blu-Ray for the first time, it was called Jekyll & Hyde: Together Again, and it was this horror-comedy about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the late 1970s, and it was kind of in that whole Night Patrol, Gong Show vein where it was throw as many jokes as you can and see what sticks. And with Bubba, I think the thing that is really going to surprise people is it’s very intelligent. Steve’s script, your direction – I mean, it’s a movie with a title that might make people kind of chuckle, but it’s a really smart film. It understands the genre but it also understands that just because you’ve got kind of a silly title doesn’t mean you can’t have this really smart dialogue and really good back and forth between actors who are taking it seriously even though they’re playing characters that shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
BR: Right, right. No, I really appreciate that. I think comedy is a very serious art form, you know? And good comedy should work on multiple levels. It’s never that you’re talking down to the audience or playing down to the audience. I think some people can laugh at the poop jokes. That’s great. Some people laugh at the clever word play. That’s also great. Some people laugh at the background visuals. That’s awesome. And hopefully there will be audiences that love all of it, you know? To me, the title is so perfect that it spells out the kind of comedic tone it’s going to be, but hopefully that’s just the gateway to get them into the theater, into the DVD initially, and then they’ll enjoy the layers upon layers kind of approach.
BVB: Absolutely. How much were you involved in crafting Bubba’s appearance as a werewolf?
BR: That was kind of set in place with our makeup designer Mike Davy. He was part of the project pretty much when I was brought on board. He did a phenomenal job. Mike Davy is one of the original makeup people for Halloween Horror Nights…
BVB: Oh cool!
BR:…so he’s got – yeah! – he’s got a really cool pedigree to him and stuff. He studied under Dick Smith.
BVB: Oh wow.
BR: Yeah, yeah, he’s awesome. He was great. And he created both Bubba and the Devil. Very talented.
BVB: I loved how – one of the most eye-catching sight gags and visuals was when the Devil is seducing the nun and she’s in her underwear and he’s got like six hands that are all over her. It was just – I actually, I’ll be honest with you, I actually freeze-framed that again, took a picture of it and sent it to a friend of mine and said, ‘You have to watch this movie!’ (Laughing)
BVB: Because I was like, this is amazing.
BVB: But I dug – I think in my review I described Bubba as kind of being reminiscent of the hillbilly cousin of Teen Wolf. But I liked that it was genuine enough looking, but it wasn’t American Werewolf in London scary looking.
BR: Right, right.
BVB: Was that important to be able to meet the tone of the film to have him not be this incredibly intimidating werewolf but just more like how he looks?
BR: Oh absolutely, yeah, it was most important that Fred Lass, who plays the werewolf, be able to get all those facial expressions in there. I think Fred is awesome in the movie. I’ve always called him our secret weapon. He was not only able to endure all that makeup but was able to act through the makeup. Mike talked a lot about having the latex be flexible enough to where Fred could smile and do all these kind of silly expressions, which obviously is very important to the comedy of the film. I love scary looking werewolves. I love the American Werewolf in London design. That’s probably my favorite werewolf film.
BVB: Mine too.
BR: I think Bubba is more like a cartoon character, you know, and I think Mike’s design is more in tune with that. Which also makes sense with the comic book origin and all.
BVB: Absolutely, absolutely. Where was this filmed? Was this filmed on location in Florida?
BR: It was, yeah. It was filmed primarily in Deland.
BVB: Oh, OK!
BR: Stetson Unviersity area. Actually, the butcher’s meat shop, that was shot in the basement of the marketing office at Stetson University.
BVB: (Laughing) Oh that’s great!
BR: (Laughing) We’re actually based out of Deland, our production company. So we know the Deland area pretty well. The bar – Bubba’s bar – was shot in DeBary, which is not too far from Deland. That was the Eagle’s Lodge in DeBary. And one of the funny things about that location is that they were kind enough to let us shoot there, but they actually could never shut down the bar. So the people that you see in the bar are actual patrons of the bar. (Laughing) And they were not used to being told ‘Quiet on the set!’ I would be like, ‘Quiet on the set,’ and they would be like, ‘Fuck you!’
BR: But in the end, they actually, they got used to it and started loving it. It actually in a way became a huge asset to always have extras on the set. I think it gave it that kind of authentic quality to the bar.
BVB: It’s funny you say that because there are moments in some of the bar scenes where some of the expressions of people, now they make more sense, because I was literally like, ‘Man, those extras are doing a good job!’ Because they really look like what the hell is going on over there? (Laughing)
BR: (Laughing) Oh yeah!
BVB: It’s authentic.
BR: They haven’t read the script or anything, so a guy with huge testicles walks in. Satan’s walking in. You know, a nun in lingerie is walking in. And they have no idea what’s going on, but they grew to love it. I heard actually it turned it into a drinking game…
BVB: Oh that’s great!
BR: Depending on the crazy things we were doing. It was an interesting challenge early on, but it actually became a huge asset in the end.
BVB: I’m hoping I know the answer to this, but is there potential for this to become a franchise kind of like The Toxic Avenger and other characters where we see more adventures from Bubba?
BR: I would love that. I would love that. You know, one of the reasons why I signed on in the first place. It’s already a franchise. Mitch has done a great job of keeping the comics alive. There’s plenty of source material there and I know that pretty much everybody involved would love to do another film. We’ll just see how this one goes. But, no, I’d love to go back to Cracker County for sure.
BVB: (Laughing) It’s Broken Taint, is that right?
BR: (Laughing) Yeah…
BVB: Which I love!
BR: Broken Taint in Cracker County!
BVB: (Laughing) It’s so good!
Bubba the Redneck Werewolf is currently available for sale through MVD Entertainment Group and other online retailers, and for purchase or rental through most streaming Video-on-Demand platforms.