In Hollywood, they say there is no such thing as an overnight success. When it was released in 1987, Fred Dekker’s “The Monster Squad” was deemed a failure by critics and was, according to the box office, a film no one cared about. It was a film seemingly destined to be lost to the sands of time. However, over the last three decades, word of mouth turned this film into a cultural phenomenon. Ironically, it was the film’s original protagonist who breathed life into the film’s resurgence. Directed by Andre Gower, “Wolfman’s Got Nards: A Documentary” explores the relationship a dedicated audience (including celebrities and filmmakers) has with this beloved piece of cinema. This beautifully-crafted documentary takes a deep dive into the film’s conception, response, cult status and revival. Through interviews with the cast, crew, screenwriters, directors, academics and original reviewers as well as through never-before-seen footage, the lens is turned on an audience of self-proclaimed misfits who kept “The Monster Squad” alive for more than 30 years. The documentary features heartfelt interviews with Fred Dekker, Shane Black, Seth Green, Andre Gower, Ryan Lambert, Ashley Bank, Adam F. Goldberg, Heather Langenkamp, Chuck Russell, Adam Green and Joe Lynch.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with director Andre Gower to discuss his journey as an artist, bringing “Wolfman’s Got Nards” to the fans and the creative impact this incredible film had on him.
Thanks for taking time to talk with me today, Andre. I’m a lifelong fan of “The Monster Squad,” so this new documentary is an absolute gift!
I’m glad you enjoyed it! It’s great to finally connect with some people who have actually seen the film now that it is so close to the release!
I couldn’t be more excited to help spread the word on the film. Before we jump into that, let’s start at the beginning. How did you get involved in the entertainment industry back in the day?
My sister, who is a couple of years older than I am, was in the industry before I was. Some people say it was a natural or automatic entry into that world! [laughs] I was always around it. Your parents are managing the situation and either making or not making things happen. My sister worked quite a bit as a kid. I was always around it because of her and when I was about 5 years old, I started working on my own. I was doing commercials and print work. Back then, there was a lot of print work because everything was in magazines, newspapers, catalogs and things like that. It all started there and moved on to TV shows and films. Most of my youth was spent doing that. However, I also had a very balanced, non-industry kind of existence, which was always a major point of emphasis for my parents and myself. Then your teenage years come up and I ended up being very fortunate to do quite a bit of television; not as much as some but a lot more compared to the majority of other kids in the business. It’s something that is a very unique experience to even have the opportunity to do, let alone actually be part of the upper echelon that actually gets the bulk of the work. So, it all started when I was very young. I know what it’s like to not be actively in the entertainment industry but that was later. I don’t know what it’s like to not have that be part of your life. I have plenty of experience in the real world and I don’t know why they call the entertainment world the fake world. [laughs] We play fake but it’s a lot of work, it’s very professional and there are contracts and so on. It’s more real than just about anything anyone else is doing! [laughs] I think it was a neat experience. I never saw it as a detraction or a distraction from the typical adolescent experience most kids have. I just saw it as a unique value add that I got to do really cool stuff that other people weren’t getting to do.
Your IMDB page blew me away with your laundry list of iconic projects. The A-Team, Knight Rider, T.J. Hooker, Mr. Belvedere, Remington Steele, Highway To Heaven, Night Court, Sidekicks with Ernie Reyes, Jr. and Circus of The Stars. The list goes on and on! That’s when TV was TV, my friend! [laughs]
It was! You rattled off all those really great shows and I was really fortunate to have guest spots on episodes like that. There were a few that I didn’t get to do, which was always disappointing. On the other shows, it was interesting because my television career as a teenager was that I was one of those people that did five or six shows that went one season, instead of one show that went six years! You know, one of those shows that everybody knows and plays every day in syndication. Sometimes that’s a bad thing but I always embrace it and like to say that I got to do more things that other friends of mine who you know from one show. They are great shows, but they were on that specific show for five, six or seven years, which is always the brass ring for an actor of any age. You want to be on that one TV show that goes forever and lives on and on and on in reruns! [laughs] I think being the principal member of a cast, the longest show run I had was two seasons! [laughs] Someone said I was my own Ted McGinley when it came to my TV career! [laughs] I was like, “Whoa! Wait a minute! I’ll be Ted McGinley! He’s a good-looking dude. I’ll take it!” I don’t think that’s what they meant. [laughs]
What lessons did you learn early on that had a major impact on your career?
This is a little tangent, but I think it will come back and land somewhere eventually! [laughs] Decades ago, kids would have to wake up and work the farm, go to school and then come back. You obviously get a whole other side education of how the world works or how things are supposed to be, and you become a professional at a very young age. You are a working professional. It teaches you a little bit of discipline and your intelligence quotient has to get sharpened a little bit because you have to learn to be somewhere on time, know what you’re doing and apply direction over and over again the same way. You just can’t lose your attention, which is a very kid thing to do! Attention span is a very tough thing to deal with. You’ve got to stay focused and, on your mark, both literally and figuratively! You’ve got to learn lines, so there is reading comprehension in there. There is also understanding the story of the overall thing that is going on. I can see this from an insider’s perspective over my entire life, you see younger actors on camera, and they don’t really know what the movie or show is about. They just show up, say these lines and are out. Sometimes it doesn’t matter but it does in the scope of how it impacts you later on in life. It comes down to things like being organized, being disciplined, making priority lists of what’s important and being able to see things in a kind of big picture sort of view. That way, you can attack those details and go step by step in something. I think being around a giant industry like film and television, being a young kid, that experience should be completely foreign to you. However, when you start off so young, it’s not! It’s just your daily life! [laughs] I think it does a good job preparing you for discipline, organization, comprehension and being focused. A lot of kids that grew up in the business might not have finished high school and some definitely didn’t go to college or get college degrees, but they probably weren’t going to anyway. That wasn’t their bailiwick and they are doing just fine. That’s no denigration to them at all but I had a different path. I think I would’ve done alright in school without going into the industry, but I think I had a lot easier time because I did. Ya know, everyone gets to college as a freshman and gets overwhelmed and intimidated by everything. It was enjoyable for me and it wasn’t intimidating for me. I didn’t experience that “I’ve never been away from my house or hometown … ” or “I haven’t experienced things outside of my neighborhood.” I don’t want to say it was easy, but I didn’t have a hard time. So, I think my experience in the entertainment industry prepared me for things like that.
In following your story through the years, one thing stood out to me. You’ve been an actor, you played college basketball and now you’ve gotten into the world of documentary filmmaking. Those are all collaborative processes. What are the keys to successful collaboration?
One, that’s a great question. Two, I think I’ve learned a little bit more about that in the past couple of years. Most people that are a little detail-oriented or control freaks don’t like to let anybody else do anything. I was normally the one who would be like, “I’ve got this thing and there are 10 steps. I’m going to do them all myself and I don’t want anybody else to touch it!” I grew up enjoying friends and, on the playground, but I played or spent a lot of time by myself building imaginary worlds with my Matchbox cars and action figures. I didn’t really play a lot of that imaginative stuff with other people. No one ever does it, right?! [laughs] It’s not a selfish thing it’s just a matter of, “They’re not thinking what I’m thinking, so I’m going to build my own world.” Then I would do my thing! At the same time, I was super social as a kid. I could be around groups of kids, riding bikes, playing in the neighborhood or going on adventures.
As you grow up, you learn to ungrasp from that control mechanism, if you are smart. If you are able to do it, it’s definitely helpful. That’s where delegation comes in, along with learning how to manage other people. If you are working in an office or something, it’s really hard to not to be that helicopter manager. If they’re there for a specific purpose, especially in something like film and TV in a situation where you are the main drive behind it, you need to show them what you are after and let them do what they do. Then you can get together and tweak. It’s very hard for a lot of people to do that. They might come in and say, “No. This is terrible. I want it this way.” The thing of it is, you aren’t necessarily always right! [laughs] That’s something I’ve been fortunate enough to embrace over the past few years. I’ve realized that other people are a good thing! Let people who know what they are doing do what they do and ungrasp a little bit and it all becomes so much easier! There is a lot of stuff that you worry about that you shouldn’t worry about. If things come up, you handle it! That’s your job! When it comes to filmmaking or writing a script where you are working with other people, a lot of people think it’s just about compromise. “I’ve got to agree to things that aren’t my idea.” They say that like it’s a bad thing! [laughs] If you really understand it, no matter what you are doing, if you had all the answers and were right on everything, you wouldn’t be doing that. You’d be running the planet! [laughs] Look, I think I’m always right! [laughs]
You’re not wrong! [laughs]
Usually, I don’t make a decision or come up with an idea without asking questions or talking with my team. It’s important to ask questions and ask for other people’s thoughts. If you have an idea and are thinking about making a decision, I think it’s super important to ask more than one other person for their feedback on that idea. I’ve learned to set the scenario of saying, “What’s your thought on this scenario?” I do that without telling the person what I’m thinking of deciding. You’d be amazed at how many people come up with things that can change your mind and add to or improve your original concept. I’m not just talking about the top people, if we are talking about the world of entertainment. It doesn’t mean just the important people. Go ask someone who doesn’t necessarily get asked that all the time. You’d be amazed by the different perspectives and attitudes you will encounter. You can come out looking a lot better by getting feedback from other people! It’s tough and it sounds so woo-woo but it’s about growth and evolving as a person and learning. Look, I’d much rather do everything myself but I’m also smart enough to know that I am unable to do all of it by myself! [laughs] I’m also smart enough to know that even if I tried to, it would suck! [laughs]
Diving into this documentary, let’s talk about your time on set with the original film. How did “The Monster Squad” compare and contrast to what you had done in the past?
It was definitely not unfamiliar, but it was new territory, if that makes sense. As we mentioned, I’d had a pretty decent career leading up to that and had worked on a lot of stuff, both big and small. That cumulative experience turns into something that is going to help you stay unphased when you step onto set for something like “The Monster Squad,” which is arguably the biggest and wildest thing you’ve done to date and may ever do. There are so many elements in a movie like that. I mean, it’s a huge budget, a tough time schedule with the kids, stunts, effects, things blowing off, actual monsters roaming around with practical creature effects and an ensemble cast of both kids and adults! That’s where I think the experience of everybody who is involved in it comes through and helps you out. But yeah, wow! What a movie! [laughs] It was arguably the largest budget thing I had ever done. It was an 11, 12 or 13-million-dollar movie, which was a big budget back in 1986. That’s not a small budget on any account!
You knew it was something big. It was very awe-inspiring to watch a lot of that stuff going on, but it was also a lot of work. Like I said, you are a professional and you have a job to do! It looks like a giant playground and it should be but it’s not! Especially when you are a kid, you can’t mess around or waste time because time is money and adults get frustrated with kids when they are wasting time and money! That’s where that professionalism comes in. You’ve gotta knock it out of the park and know what you are doing; even more so than the adults. Sometimes that’s tough for people.
When we were shooting “The Monster Squad,” obviously I was the lead of the movie, so I was in the majority of the scenes. I’m not in every single camera shot, obviously, but I was in more camera shots and setups than any of the other cast. It was exhausting and a lot of work for three-and-a-half months straight. I think I had a day off one day because I was sick. I think I was just worn out and coming down with something, so they had to shoot around me for a day. They were like, “He can’t work. He looks like a bag of garbage that’s been sitting out in the sun for a weekend!” [laughs] I remember that being the only day that I took off. It was a lot of work. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun stuff! It’s amazing to do things like that. If you are fortunate enough to do it, don’t take it for granted. You really have to respect the process and appreciate the fact that you are there but you’ve gotta be on point! Like I said before, it all ties together.
There is some cool stuff going on, but you are changing locations and shooting on stages. As most people know, you don’t shoot movies in sequence, so you’ve gotta figure out where you are in the story and that’s where that comprehension comes in. It’s stuff like, “OK, this is where we are in the script. Now we are acting like this because we already know this tidbit of info … ” You’ve gotta bring that yourself first and not rely on other people to guide you, like the director. With that said, Fred [Dekker] did a really good job with me and with the entire cast of kids with making sure everyone was in the right place story-wise and mindfulness-wise. It was a present! We shot all over LA. We had a really wide, spread-out location shot on the back lots of Universal and Warner Bros., on the ranch at Warner Bros., town square at Warner Bros. and the backlot of Universal with the lagoon. That’s just cool stuff! If you’d been there before, it’s great but now you get to work on these famous spots and you’re in locations of places that don’t even exist now! [laughs] Now, you can walk around neighborhoods and think, “That’s where we did that. That’s where we shot that!” It was just a really neat experience on a large scale.
“The Monster Squad” was under-appreciated for decades, which is addressed in the documentary. What lit the fuse on exploring its resurgence and finding the right voice to tell the story?
It all goes back to that original 2006 Alamo Drafthouse cast reunion screening on a Saturday night before Easter. They said, “Hey, we found a print. We want you to come in.” We were all really like, “Are people really going to come out to watch ‘Monster Squad?’ Do people know this movie? I know a handful of people know it, but this movie didn’t do well, and most people haven’t heard about it in a really long time.” Long story short, we went there and it blew up the world! [laughs] We did two sold out screenings. That’s why I’m so partial to the Alamo. That’s really what kicked the whole “Monster Squad” resurgence off with a bang! Soon after that, we were headlining conventions and going to all sorts of genre and pop culture things. I was going to private screenings and retro screenings all over the country. The movie was playing everywhere, every weekend all over the country. It was just nuts!
As that stacks over the next couple of years, you start hearing these stories from fans who get to come up and interact with you. You started hearing these amazing stories of what this movie meant to these kids who are now adults. You’d hear, “You don’t understand. This is my favorite movie. I taped it off HBO and shared it around my neighborhood!” I was like, “Wow! That’s neat! It’s a great story.” After a couple of years, you would hear those stories on repeat, but they were from different people. Different people but similar stories. You started realizing that this wasn’t just people that were appreciative that you are at this appearance because it’s something that’s cool; this movie really connected with a bunch of people for some reason. We would talk about that phenomena. We really thought this whole thing would just kind of wane out and die after a year or two. Boy, were we wrong! [laughs] It’s not dying! It’s not slowing down. It’s got this continual, slow, upward trajectory that’s been building from that original generation of fans. Now, we have a second generation of fans! Over time, hearing these stories, we realized this was not just a passing type of anomaly. I realized this meant something special to these people. I didn’t know what it was, and I still don’t know what it is. It’s a completely individual thing. What I did start to understand was that this movie connected with kids and made an impact that has never left. As you hear those stories and see the impact, you realize this isn’t the same fandom as “Star Trek,” “Star Wars” or “Harry Potter.” I’m a fan of all of those. I realized this was something different, something interesting and it was only getting larger and louder! That’s when I realized those stories were a story.
That leads into what the theme and tone of the documentary should be. There is a very easy, simple documentary to make about “Monster Squad” fandom and nostalgia. You just put it up there, you do it and it’s done. We’ve seen a lot of those docs. Some of them are great. Some are not so great. It doesn’t matter. It’s your choice to choose. I got together with Pilgrim Media Group and Henry McComas, who was my main partner in crime when it came to making this documentary, and it began to take shape. It was really our conversations and collaborations, along with the rest of the team, that began to chart the course. It was a very small production team. It was Henry, Wes Caldwell, Aaron Kunkel, Shane Patterson and a handful of others that physically had their hands on this production. It was mainly Henry, Wes and I sitting around saying, “This is what it is. How do we mine that and how do we avoid all the stuff that we don’t want it to be? What does that look like?” That’s when I turn the feedback over to other people like Henry or Wes. Henry McComas was really the driving factor. Most people don’t know how many hands he had on this film. He was a co-producer, yes, because he was leading the production team, but he was also one of our main shooters. He and I sat and co-wrote the framework of what the doc should and could be. He’s the editor, he colored it and he broke the story. Once we compiled all of this footage and met all of these people, he was the one who would go into a dark corner and work on it for days and days and days.
Eventually, this thing evolved into what it was! We shot 50 terabytes of footage in 10 months and got a 90-minute film out of it! When you first start putting something together and making selects, you think what your original story is but it’s always going to change. When you talk to Henry about it, he will tell you that this movie changed five, six- or seven-times wholesale. That happened because we would meet someone new that would change the narrative or would get an interview that took things in a different direction. Finally, it all started coming together. As you mentioned, I’m not in the documentary that much. I’m still in the documentary way too much for my tastes! [laughs] To me, it was very important what this film wasn’t. It’s not a making-of or where-are-they-now documentary. It’s also not a straight spoonful of sugar, fan service documentary. We utilized all of that, don’t get me wrong. We found a way to tell the story of why something like a movie can connect with you, impact you and literally change your life or shape who you are as you go through life. You can always go back to something and connect with it and re-center. It’s like a buoy in a dark ocean or finding the North Star! Maybe it’s your comfort food or your guiding light. It’s always something you can go back to but it’s really an anchor point for a lot of people. That’s what the emphasis and focus was for this documentary.
I didn’t want it to be about us as the cast and I sure as hell didn’t want it to be about me! [laughs] It had to be more than, “Oh, here’s a behind-the-scenes photo you’ve never seen before ‘Monster Squad’ fans. Oh.” [laughs] We can see those, and we can share those on Instagram if we wanted to! We wanted to create something different. Normally, documentaries that are fan service oriented are the fans tongue bathing whatever the film is. We wanted to turn the focus and appreciation around on the fans. That was my main focus because we’re not talking about this today if it wasn’t for you and your friends in the neighborhood watching this movie decades ago and keeping it alive for 30 years. It was dead and gone! It never should have resurfaced. Now, it’s literally a monster! [laughs] Whether it’s a cult movie, a cult classic or just a classic movie to you, we wouldn’t be talking about any of this if it wasn’t for the fans that kept this movie alive for 30 years. That’s what’s interesting to me! I think it would still be interesting if I had nothing to do with the movie. Being the lead in the source material and being very involved with the fan base since 2006, I had a unique perspective to dive into that. I needed help to bring that to fruition, so that’s where guys at Pilgrim Media Group and the whole production team brought it to life. I couldn’t be more pleased with what we ended up pulling out of everything that we did.
I’ve seen it 100 times at this point. We went on a huge festival run and I went on a special tour for the Alamo Drafthouse where we showed it at 22 Alamo theaters last year. I don’t watch the movie. I watch the people watching the movie and you get the best kick out of that! It’s amazing! They are laughing, crying and wide-eyed! With this documentary, we really wanted to take you back to that feeling you had as a kid, where you are in a theater with a group of strangers and you’re all watching something for the first time that ends up changing your life! That’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to take everyone back to that moment while you are watching the documentary about whatever your favorite film is. Your favorite film might be “The Monster Squad” or something else but we just happen to tell it through the lens of ‘Monster Squad’ fans.
You had some many great interviews in this film. The standout for me was the one with Fred Dekker, who directed “The Monster Squad.” No one has a more complicated relationship with the film than he. Tell us about that interview and breaking down those walls to make it happen.
You nailed it. He is the only one who has the relationship he has with this film because it impacted and affected him negatively; everyone else it impacted positively. It’s a very unique story. Through the interview, you begin to understand that reticence or feeling of – “I don’t understand why people are talking about this movie now.” We’ve had long conversations through the years about being unable to imagine Fred having that struggle, seeing the success of this movie now and the failure of it when it was supposed to be successful. It could have completely changed his career. I think that it’s very unfair that you go to director jail because a movie doesn’t perform in 72 hours. I think that was such a bad barometer back in the day. I think we missed out as viewers of art and movies from a lot of really talented, cool people because they never got a second chance. We all lose when that happens.
You would see screenings and appearances where Fred has a different perspective on it from one day to the next. I started to realize over the course of years how complicated his relationship with what this movie is. I don’t think he really understood it for a very long time either. Ironically, that was a little bit of a drive when we were trying to tell the story with the documentary. I always wanted Fred to move on from any bitterness, annoyance or frustration and understand that there is a legion of people who’ve literally changed their lives! There was a little bit of a selfish thing where I really wanted Fred to actually like this movie. I think it would’ve happened regardless but there is a scenario where there may not be that Fred Dekker interview in this movie. It’s a completely different documentary if that interview didn’t happen because it’s almost the anti-interview. We are celebrating all of this other stuff and turning the lens on the fans and then Fred is telling his story. It’s the counterweight to all of the celebration. I thought it was one of the most fascinating things I have ever experienced. Henry was a Fred Dekker fan for his entire life. He grew up being a “Monster Squad” fan and now he’s making a movie with people who are involved in “Monster Squad” and getting a chance to tell his own personal story. Henry’s favorite thing about this is, when we went to Fred Dekker’s house, we thought we’d be there for maybe 30 minutes or an hour getting the requisite bites that you want. It almost didn’t happen!
We went through a couple iterations while we were shooting the movie, running and gunning as we went. We had to make a quick 7-minute video to send to Fred and say, “This is what it’s looking like. This is what our cameras do. This is where we’ve been. We don’t want you to think Andre is just shooting this on his iPhone and interviewing fans on the street. There’s a plan and a thing going on here.” He got it and was like, “That’s interesting. It looks good.” We ended up having to make a 30-minute rough cut, sort of short film in the middle of making the movie. We were showing it at Fantastic Fest In Austin, Texas. We were doing a special event and I got to throw the Friday night party jam at Fantastic Fest, where every night there is a big event. It’s bonkers! I got to throw the 30th anniversary “Monster Squad” fan party. We sourced materials and rebuilt the treehouse in the bar. There was all this production stuff, the wardrobe was there and there were all these movie posters from all over the world. We got to show a sneak peek of what we were working on. We ended up sending that to Fred and he finally said, “Alright. Let’s do this. I’m in. This looks fantastic. What do you want to do?” I said, “We’ll come to wherever you feel most comfortable doing it.” He said, “Great. Just come to the house.” So, we went to his house. Henry’s favorite thing is, when you watch the interview, it starts out in daylight. There is light coming through the windows and there is a skylight in the back room of his house. He sat there and we talked for hours! As that interview went, the daylight changed, and we finished his interview at night. We were there for so long with him and he just explained it. I think it was one of the neatest things that anybody has captured.
It really affected Henry. He said, “That’s the best thing I’ve ever seen.” I got to be a part of watching someone I respected and admired explain his intimate story of making films to a filmmaker like Henry. I’m just sitting there, and I didn’t even have to lead questions. We just chatted. There were very few leading questions or pulling teeth out! He just had a relaxing time and told the story. Boy, there are some great moments in there that Fred provides that you almost feel weird taking advantage of because they are so personal, but we talked about that and that’s what it is. Whether it’s something like not cutting away for just a split second to get one more breath of expression or an eye glance to the other side, it was fascinating!
Another amazing moment in this film is the tribute to Brent Chalem, who played Horace. It was so great to hear his story through the people who knew and loved him. What are your recollections of your time with him?
I didn’t know Brent before we started shooting. I think we met a week or two before shooting while doing wardrobe. It was like, “Here’s Brent. He’s going to be playing Horace.” He was a year or two younger than I was. So, he was younger than Robby [Kiger] and I. Then Ryan [Lambert] was a year older than us. Brent was fairly young and had worked a little bit, so this was a big deal for him. He was just a ball of innocent energy as a 12-year-old playing this role and who had no idea it would become so iconic. You never know any of that! [laughs] That’s what’s almost weird when you think back, and you meet someone like that. He was just such a nice kid and you can’t say anything different. He was just a sweet, innocent, energetic kid that was happy to be where he was and wanted to do a good job. When you are dealing with kids of different ages, it takes a while for everyone to find their place and get comfortable with each other. It’s just like going to a new school but now you are the only kids in the school and you’ve gotta be able to work together for three or more months! [laughs] It’s always a bit of a transition thing and everyone is getting used to everybody. Once everything just flowed, it looked like we’d all been friends since pre-school and lived in the same neighborhood, just like in the movie.
You mentioned it and we do cover it, but a lot of people still get surprised when they watch the film because they didn’t know Brent passed away in 1997. It just jolts them. I had heard about it right after it happened. Obviously, it’s super tragic and he was way too young to go. I believe he was getting ready to go away to law school. Then you fast forward to where you are making this documentary and you’ve got to cover this story. You’ve got to go into it but how do you go into it? I thought it was very important. His mom had passed away shortly after we made the movie. His dad had passed away a number of years after Brent. So, there was seemingly no one left to tell his story, except for some of the other people who knew him. For example, there is his pseudo-neighborhood mom or the mom of a girlfriend of his when they were teenagers. I knew I couldn’t tell his story. I could pull clippings from something else but it’s not my story to convey. This is his story that they need to tell, and would they be willing to talk about that. Boy, we were so lucky that they were onboard to come in and talk about that. Eileen, Barbara and Rachel came in and we sat at her townhouse up in Thousand Oaks, California. We sat there all day and invaded her house with a production team! [laughs] Of course, she wanted to keep making snacks for everybody! [laughs] It was great! None of that was staged. It was all honest. It was the story and a lot of people were surprised about the reason he passed away. I won’t spoil it because it’s their story to tell and I like them portraying it and telling what happened. It just makes it all the more tragic because it didn’t have to be that way.
With that said, what a beautiful friendship you forged with Ryan Lambert and Ashley Bank. We saw when you guys hit the road with Ashley’s baby in tow. It’s such a cool moment to see those bonds grow deeper on the road trip.
Here’s the weird thing if you want to go into it-was-meant-to-be or it kismet! or the galaxy aligned and the energy shot down a line right at you! I had just gotten in touch with them a couple months before they called about the Alamo tour. I hadn’t talked to or seen her in a number of years. I also hadn’t seen Ryan in a couple of years because I was living in North Carolina at the time. Ryan was living in San Francisco for a number of years, doing his cool rockstar band thing. I hadn’t even really spoken to Fred or anything. In the year before that Alamo thing, we had all kind of reconnected. Once we went to that thing and it all blew up, we’ve spent so much time together over the past 10 or 12 years, it’s like we never missed a beat! That led to a bunch of stuff with Ryan and me. We started working together on projects. I kinda created a little brand with Ryan and Andre. We had a podcast and I created a show that Legendary Digital Networks bought for Nerdist when they had a subscription channel for a little while. I created a show that Ryan and I co-hosted, and we showcased short films and their filmmakers. I loved that show! It was called “Short Ends.” So, Ryan and I got to work together, which was great fun. We hung out a lot for a number of years. We still do. Well, except for this year because no one is hanging out with anybody right now, right? [laughs] Ashley hadn’t had her first kid yet and she just had a second one last year, so it’s been crazy!
Then the Alamo called and asked if we wanted to do a 30th Anniversary Tour. I was like, “That sounds cool. Do you want any of the other people? I think it’s better when it’s not just me.” They were like, “Does anybody else want to come?” I said, “Let me ask!” [laughs] Ryan said, “Yeah, that sounds cool.” Then Ashley was like, “Oh my gosh! I have an 18-month-old. I want to do this. How am I going to do that?” [laughs] I was like, “Let’s figure it out. Let’s just do it!” She was only supposed to come for the first couple of days but ended up staying with us for the entire trip! We were on the road for 18 days straight. We went to 17 different cities in 18 days. I think there were something like 25 screenings! We were literally in a different city every day. It was like being a rockstar on tour where you don’t know what town you’re in when the sun comes up! [laughs] What was great about that is that it was going on right when we were in production, so my crew was with me. That’s how we got to document that tour. Much like the Fred Dekker interview, if we didn’t have that in the movie, the movie would be half of what it is now! We got to capture so much great stuff from that trip and get so many interviews on the road. Plus, the visuals of us going around and being in the Alamos was great. I always joke that the movie is almost 90 minutes long and it’s about a 42-minute commercial for the Alamo Drafthouse! [laughs] I’m totally fine with that! It was just so awesome! But yeah, we were just a family on the road for three straight weeks! Stopping to get food on the road, going through the airport with the stroller and the baby — we did it all! We just all took our turns and made it happen! We still stay tight and check in with each other all the time.
The making of this film had a huge impact on you and provided plenty of adventures. Where do you go from here?
This has actually taken a bit longer than we would have hoped to get this film out to the world. We had a great festival run two summers ago and now we are getting this out, so it’s become the focus. It’s awesome and we are so excited. It releases on October 27 on VOD. You can also order it on Blu-ray because “Monster Squad” fans wanted a physical copy of this to put on the shelf next to all their other stuff. This is just such a cool time but there are always other projects. There is always stuff in development. What’s been great about working on this with someone like Henry McComas is that we now work on projects together. We create, develop and pitch projects. He’s got this wonderful script that he wrote and is slated to direct with Wes Caldwell, who was a producer and part of the production team on “Wolfman’s Got Nards,” and Heather Buckley, who has made a handful of awesome movies. We’re a production/producer team collaborating with a sales agency out of the UK to finance and produce Henry’s first narrative directing job. It’s really neat. I’m looking at my phone and it’s blowing up. We’re making offers to cast and things like that, so that’s one project. That’s Henry’s thing, so I am playing the producer role on that one by putting pieces together and putting Tab A into Slot B and trying to get this movie made. There are also a handful of other things.
I’m always creative and have ideas. What I like to do, especially with my company Fitterpiper, doesn’t necessarily revolve around my projects or concepts. I like to be involved with things that may already be going where I can come in and provide this or have an idea there. I can put A and C together and I can be B — I love that! That’s what I’m really focused on, just finding great projects to work on and there are a handful that are in line and in different stages of development as we speak. Whether it’s actually being the creative force behind it, writing the script or breaking the story, awesome! I love that! If that is already done and we just have to put other pieces together, I can use my creative skill set and business acumen to figure that stuff out too! It’s a fascinating process to get film, TV shows and art projects done. I do other stuff outside of it as well! I’m an avid golfer and I’m back to playing tennis now, so it’s nice to stay busy! We’re all getting older so you’ve gotta put the effort in to stay in shape! It’s very tough! [laughs] I love being involved in all aspects of production, whether it’s the business side or the creative side. I feel lucky because I have a foot in both and I understand both sides, which is a bit of a rarity in this business. Most of the business side doesn’t really understand any of the creative side and sometimes the creative side doesn’t understand any of the business side of it. I can see all of that stuff very clearly and I enjoy working inside both of those to weave the fabrics together!
Your passion for what you do is very inspiring.
That’s awesome to hear! Yeah, most people are so focused on trying to get their thing made that they lose sight of everything else that’s going on. That doesn’t mean you can’t be focused on something. You should be focused on something! Just don’t let that thing bury you. You could spend five years beating this thing you love into the ground and by the time you see it you hate it. At the same time, you’ve also missed 12 opportunities to do or work on other things or come up with something new because you’ve been under the rubble of your own self. Take a breath every once and a while to look for other opportunities that may be staring you right in the face.
Be inspired by other people and motivated by other people. Those are two different things. Just make something, whatever it is! It could be a song, commercial, short film, movie or paper mache! If you’ve got something you feel driven to make or express — just do it! You might not do it right the first time. It’s probably going to suck the third time! [laughs] But trust me, you’ll figure it out! I’m working with a guy out of Louisiana right now. We met randomly but he has this great short story and now people are interested in making a movie out of it. We’ve been talking back and forth, almost in a mentor type role, but there may be an opportunity that I’m actually involved with it. We will see. I don’t know but I think it’s a cool story. It’s fascinating to see things like that! I like filmmakers. Young filmmakers, old filmmakers, green, blue, black, brown and beyond. It’s such an interesting process and one of the reasons I love my show “Short Ends.” We got to meet these up-and-coming directors and filmmakers making shorts. That’s the first step to making other things. Just go out and make it! Go to film festivals, watch other people and meet other people. Don’t hide yourself in your bungalow and never come out. You’ve got to get out, mix it up and experience some stuff. You hear that a lot on the actor side of this industry with new young actors. You might ask them who their favorite actors are, what their favorite performance or what their favorite old classic movies might be. You’d be surprised how many times you hear, “Oh, I don’t watch black and white films.” You’re like, “What? So, you don’t watch the majority of original films?” [laughs] You shouldn’t be in this industry because you’re missing out on 80% of it! [laughs] Open up, experience things and be an information and knowledge sponge. Absorb it all and something will squeeze out!
Andre, I can’t thank you enough for your time today and for seeing this project through.
Thanks for enjoying the doc! I’m glad you had a good time with it. Hit me up anytime!
“Wolfman’s Got Nards” will be released on demand on October 27, 2020. Check out the official site for the documentary at www.thesquaddoc.com!