Villain Media has an exclusive interview with filmmaker Barney Burman as he discusses his upcoming terrifying independent horror film, Wild Boar. In his directorial debut, the special make-up effects master has put together a must-see ensemble cast that includes Augie Duke, Daniel Robbuck, and Jessica Sonneborn.
In a hidden colony, there are wild boars that prey on innocent humans who cross their path.
Writer/director Barney Burman discusses the inspiration behind Wild Boar, his experience working on the NBC supernatural drama, Grimm, and his horror influences. Movie lovers are definitely going to enjoy our in-depth discussion of the filmmaking process!
Villain Media; What was the inspiration behind the story for Wild Boar?
Barney Burman: Andy Jones and I had been wanting to make a film together for several years. We had a werewolf project that we’d wanted to do but for some reason, I don’t recall why exactly, we couldn’t make it happen. So then, in talking about other ideas, he came up with “How about something like Planet of the Apes but with pig-people?” And that really rang a bell inside my brain. I set to writing a script and Andy was going to direct. The plan was to shoot it during the holiday break of 2012 while Grimm was on hiatus. But two things happened! One, the script I wrote was not doable within our proposed budget. And B, I’d promised my then-girlfriend that we’d go hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu that Christmas. It was a smart move because now she’s my wife. So the pig movie was pushed and Andy went off to make The Haunting of Cellblock 11.
But the idea really stuck with me and in 2014 I started reworking the script. I felt so connected to it, I knew I had to direct it. Andy and I discussed it and he agreed. So during the fourth season of Grimm, I devoted all my spare time to bring Wild Boar to life.
VM: The film has a The Hills Have Eyes vibe going for it. What movies were your influences?
BB: The funny thing there is, I’d not seen Hills Have Eyes. I actually knew very little about it. I’ve seen parts of the remake since then, so I can see the comparison, but I didn’t really set out to do a Hills-Have-Eyes-type of film. At the same time, I couldn’t help but be influenced by some of my favorites. The aforementioned Planet of the Apes (’68 version), The Island of Dr. Moreau (’78), and little bits of other films you might not expect like Alex Cox’s Repo Man, Phantom of the Paradise, Don’t Look Now and 1 Million Years BC.
VM; Tell me about working with Daniel Roebuck, who’s done The Man in the High Castle and the L.A. Noire video game.
BB: And River’s Edge and The Fugitive and so many films and TV shows I wouldn’t even begin to count! Daniel and I were on Grimm, he was actually the first person I made up on the show. But this was a few seasons in, and he was coming back as a guest star, and he and I were having dinner together ,and I told him about the idea for Wild Boar, and he loved it! He was extremely encouraging as well, very supportive! I asked him if he’d play my lead boar character and he didn’t hesitate.
He did ask one thing though. He said, “If I’m going to play this character in full prosthetics, is there some place I could be in it where I can also show my face, like a cameo?” And I thought, “OMG, that’s it! I’m going to double cast you!” So he’s the leading man and the lead pig. And he’s SO GOOD! Definitely one of the best decisions I made!
The poor guy! He and Douglas Tait, who plays the other lead boar, were dressed in full creature suits in the 112 degree heat of the Salton Sea desert and never complained. And I think Danny sort of raised the bar for everyone as well. I think people knew they were working with a seasoned pro so they really brought their A-game! That’s how it seemed to me anyway.
VM: Tell me about working with Augie Duke (Lamb) and Jessica Sonneborn (Sable).
BB: Both terrific! And Jim Nieb and Michael Reed as well. Everybody really brought great value to the table. Augie is a force of nature. Her talent is just deeply ingrained inside her. She needed very little direction and she too never complained about some serious hardship we had to put her character through. You’ll have to watch the movie to see what I mean but it was definitely physically challenging.
Jessica also really came through. It was a bit of a challenge starting out, but that was my fault because I had this stupid idea about making her character sort of this Eurotrash snob and I wasn’t looking at the actress in front of me. We did a day with that earlier idea and it wasn’t working but once we decided to throw that out and base her character a little more in the reality of who she is, I think that really grounded Jessica and she’s terrific in the movie. Funny thing is that we did a lot of improvisation on camera and Jessica, I think was insecure about that, but her improvised moments are really good.
VM: You also worked as the prosthetic makeup designer for the Star Trek remake. What was more of a challenge? Dealing with the special effects or directing?
BB: Star Trek was definitely one of the greatest challenges of my career. I think I wasn’t really ready for it at that time. I worked 18 hour days for 6 months with no days off. I was exhausted! Whereas Wild Boar has had bumps but I’ve had a blast doing it. It’s been spread out over several years and I’ve loved every bit of it.
VM: How did this project change you as a storyteller?
BB: They say a movie is a story told three times! First in the writing, then in the shooting and finally in the editing. That could not be truer! And submerging myself in each one of these processes has made me better and more aware of the others. It’s like when people use to ask me which I like better, beauty makeup or making monsters, and I maintain that working hard to get good at one makes you better at the other.
VM: Where can readers find your movie?
BB: Good question! I wish I knew! [Laughs] But we’re not there quite yet. We’re talking to distributors and weighing our options about which avenue to take for getting the movie out there. We’ll definitely be submitting to festivals though so go and support film festivals and hopefully you’ll see Wild Boar on the program.
VM: What are you working on now?
BB: We’re finishing up the movie, putting the final touches on the sound and I got to say, it’s AMAZE-BALLS! Our sound designer, Bill Holmes Jr. is making this movie sing! With his sound and an incredibly unique score by Bobby Brader over the cinematography of Andre Walsh, this movie has seriously exceeded all of my expectations.
I’m also gearing up for a new project, a friend of mine, Susan McCauley, wrote a very twisted script about a serial killer who falls in love and has asked me to direct it. It’s called The Murdering Kind and we’re about to go into pre-production.
[Writer’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity]