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Interview: Actor/filmmaker Dan Fogler talks ‘Don Peyote’

Dan Fogler
Dan FoglerCourtesy of XLrator Media

Actor Dan Fogler is best known for his roles in “Balls of Fury,” “Take Me Home Tonight,” and “Fanboys.” For his new comedy, “Don Peyote,” which releases to limited theaters on May 16, Fogler serves as the film’s writer, co-director, and star.

In “Don Peyote,” Fogler plays Warren, a soon-to-be-married, unemployed graphic novelist, who spends most of his time getting high. He finally finds a purpose in life, when he comes across a homeless man preaching the end of the world is coming. Warren starts having vivid, apocalyptic dreams, and these stimulate his obsession with theories about the Mayan Apocalypse. He seeks out on a quest to make a documentary on the subject, while his fiance starts planning their wedding.

The Chico Movie Examiner recently conducted an over-the-phone interview with Fogler about the film; how he initially intended to have it released before 2012; and if he has plans to run for president again. Check out the interview below.

David Wangberg: With your film, your character is obsessed with the Mayan Apocalypse, and there’s a moment where it mentions that 2012 has passed. Was there ever a time where you wanted to have the film’s setting all before 2012?

Dan Fogler: Yeah. I mean, I set out – we started making the movie in early 2010, and I had every intention to put the movie out before 2012. But because I was shooting around my schedule, and the budget was not there – the movie was being made out of favors and synchronicity, so it was basically making itself. And then I realized over the course of the journey, and even Daniel Pinchbeck in the movie said: “It’s not about the date, 2012; it’s about this time that we’re living in, and it’s about the fact that things are changing rapidly.” That’s very obvious.

So, 2012 was kind of like the threshold. It’s kind of like this is when things are going to be very heated, and they were. Things at that time were very chaotic around the world, and a lot of people were like: “What the f*** is going to happen?” Some people thought: “S***! Is the world ending?” Some people thought: “No, it’s just changing constant.”

And myself, I was getting married at the time, and just the vantage I had – I was in the city – and I guess, globally, the energy was very frenetic, and I thought: “This is something I need to capture in a documentary or something.”

As the movie went on, that’s a lesson that Warren learns. It was never about 2012; it was about what happens next. That’s the answer for that one.

DW: As time progressed, and this film was still in the pre-production phase, did you just keep adding things to the script until you could finally shoot it?

DF: Not even. We were shooting it, man; the train was rolling. I was like: “Let’s start shooting the mockumentary style first,” which is the first half of the film. We could do that for very little, basically. And I thought if we got gold, we’d raise money for the rest, and that’s what happened.

And the movie was purely organic and very improvisational. Yes, we had a script, but we wanted people to make it their own. And the movie was being made around my schedule, like I said. I would go and do “Scenic Route” with Josh Duhamel and meet him and I said: “Holy s***, I want you in my movie.” And we’d write a part for him and throw him in the movie, and he was part of the ending of the movie. And the movie was being edited at that point. [laughs]

And I was sitting there the whole time being like: “We have to finish it before 2012!” But it just didn’t work out that way, and then it went into editing in post, which was a long process – just getting it ready. It’s always like that. We found the movie with voiceover; we found the movie with a lot of fun along the way.

So, to answer your question, we were hitting bells and whistles as we were going. We stopped working on it, like, three weeks ago.

DW: [laughs] Oh, wow! So you just finished it.

Now, this is not only the second time you’ve directed a film, but it’s also the second time you’ve directed yourself in a film. Here, of course, it’s a much bigger role. What were the things you took from “Hysterical Psycho” and applied here to help you take on this bigger role?

DF: I had such a great time making “Hysterical Psycho.” And I didn’t want to be in that, because it was the first time I was directing. My advice to anybody doing that for the first time is: Ask your friends to be in the movie. It became like camp.

There were a bunch of us who were all friends already. I was just blabbing out what they were doing, and they were like: “Yes, I will do that as a favor to Dan, because I love Dan.” And then I took that philosophy going into the second movie, saying: “Let’s do this on a more epic scale. Let’s try to raise more money behind it, and let’s try to get some really amazing talent in it to get the message out.”

And that was the philosophy that I had making the movie; [it] was just saying yes to everybody. I just said yes a lot of the time, and I said: “We’re going to find it in editing, anyway.” And nine times out of 10, people made gold, because they were excited to just be able to play. People don’t get to do that. So, a lot of people contributed to the uniqueness to this movie. Does that even answer the question? [laughs]

DW: [laughs] Yeah, it does. It does.

And I had another question in relation to “Hysterical Psycho.” I’m just now hearing about it, and I saw that some of the reviews published were from this year. Is this a film that a lot of people are discovering now because of “Don Peyote” being released, or is this one that you are giving a second chance and hoping people are discovering it now with the release of “Don Peyote?”

DF: Right. All of the above, but the real reason it took so long to come out was just because that was my first movie, and I never delivered a movie before; my company had never delivered a movie.

So, it took so f***ing long to get it out. [laughs] And, of course, with our luck, we had to fully deliver it at the same time we’re delivering “Don Peyote.” Have you ever delivered two movies at the same time? It’s crazy.

That’s where that came from, and that was basically the universe saying: “Yeah, let’s give this movie a second chance.” I think this was the right time for it to come out, because people will see “Don Peyote,” and if they like it, they’ll say: “Well, s***, what was the first one Dan did?” And, hopefully, it will all work out like that.

I got a lot of hopes for it. I made a graphic novel out of the universe that “Hysterical Psycho” lives in, which is “Moon Lake” – which has two volumes out there. It’s another baby of mine. I’m trying to cultivate a whole “Twilight Zone” on THC kind of franchise with “Moon Lake,” and that’s what’s going on with that. I got a lot of big ideas, brother.

DW: I was looking at your website last night, and I saw that you did a presidential campaign in 2012. Do you think, in 2016, you’ll do it again?

DF: I don’t know, man. That was really a platform for me to air a lot of feelings about what I think could help change the world. I think more people should do that.

And I think I do with this movie; I get people to think outside the box. And a lot of the knowledge that I’m trying to spread is already becoming common knowledge, so it’s happening. People are becoming more conscious and growing a conscience, and I think we’re heading in the right direction.

This concludes the interview, but the Chico Movie Examiner would like to thank Dan Fogler for taking the time to talk about “Don Peyote.”