This is an interview with Yancy Butler, David Chokachi, and David Hewlett on November 8, 2011 about the television movie Rage Of The Yeti.
Question: David, you were on both sides of the camera both as a director and starring in the film. Can you talk about what that's like?
David Hewlett: Insane. I mean everything in Bulgaria is insane basically insane. But it's fairly great. I'd have to say the dates that I had to act and direct were my least favorite days because all of a sudden I remember that I had to learn why and actually be in a scene and remember to sort of yell ???Action??? and then start talking basically. I wouldn't advise it. I generally try to avoid that. But for some reason, every single time I've directed so far I knew what the problem is. The problem is I'm cheap and I'm one less lunch to buy.
Question: Yancy, what happened with your character?
Yancy Butler: I'm dead now is what's happening. It's a resurrection. I take a deep breath and apparently I didn't die. Or my character never dies.
David Hewlett: That gives us all hope, Yancy. Even when we're shot and dead in a movie, I can suddenly wake up and come back.
Question: Do you ever start cracking up when you get some of these directions like, ???Oh the Yeti is going to come over and rip your arm off; now I want you to be scared????
David Hewlett: Yes. The question is when do you stop laughing? You never stop laughing because you're laughing all the time, especially when Yancy, you laugh, like that just gets everybody going.
Yancy Butler: That's right. And David giving direction, I mean you just have to laugh. No, it's really difficult to do that. I think Chokachi can attest to that. You read the script and it reads like this kind of sci-fi novel. And then it's like, okay, this creature is over here that you don's know what it looks like, and now it's under you. And now it's quite difficult.
David Chokachi: There's a scene in the thing where we're on this Snowcat and we're evading the monster Yeti. And Hewlett is outside and the camera is on a big crane. And he's running around, like I wish we had a camera of him because he's running around pretending to be the snow Yeti. And he's like, ???The Yeti is over here.??? And I'm bashing in this side of the snowcat. And now the Yeti is over here. And he's like, roar. The footage of me running around might be scarier than the Yetis we've got on this. But let's see.
Question: Can you talk about kind of how you got involved in working on the movie and how it came about?
David Hewlett: I've been dying to do some more directing. And I really felt that if you're going to do it, trial by fire, director's boot camp, there is no place on earth and no types of movie that's harder to make than these sci-fi movies because they're like tiny budgets and you do everything in them. And they're shot in such a quick way in a country that nobody understands what you're talking about, which is normal not to understand what I'm talking about, but Bulgaria specifically.
I thought that was a really good sort of like a good way to sort of polish up on the directing side of stuff. And so I did a movie with these guys called Morlocks. And I said great, I'll do Morlocks. And I'll do Morlocks if you let me do the Yetis as a director as well. It really worked out well. And then I got to work with these guys. I mean, it was incredibly difficult; I'm not going to lie. But it was also just an amazing experience, like there are still the stories, the Bulgarian stories of Yetis that I tell are still my favorite tales.
David Chokachi: I've done a few of them over there so I know what it entails, like obviously David and Yancy have done them over there. So you kind of know what you're getting into when you go to Bulgaria to shoot one of these. But if you can kind of like put your ego aside to understand that you're going to go a certain kind of studio and you're going to be in a certain quasi trailer making this kind of action-adventure movie, and you just can't be going over there with attitude that you're making some Shakespeare in the park. You're going over there to do this certain film. And it's long hours and you got a very limited amount of time to bang it out. I read the script and my character is just kind of like this dude with his brother who goes through this thing like going to blow (unintelligible) up with these massive guns. I was like, oh my God, this is me to a tee. Luckily, I got the offer. I think Hewlett probably had to approve me. And probably, he regretted to this day.
Yancy Butler: Basically I got a call as I'm actually in Bulgaria now, Jamie, doing my fourth film for these guys. And so I got the call and I read the script. And then when I heard that Chok was involved which we worked together ten years ago, that I was just in. I was like sign me up. And it is difficult. I mean, David Squared will attest to the fact that the great thing about Bulgaria.
The great thing about Bulgaria is that the crews are very eager to please. But it's always very difficult conditions and starting with we're doing a snow film in the middle of summer. So that in itself would always lend to some difficulties. But basically I got the call and I was on board. And David did an amazing job. That would be flash nerd. David Hewlett did an amazing job directing. And I don's know how any of the directors, honestly, pull off getting a day; let alone, getting a film in a can here.
It's difficult, the script had a lot of action in it and you're kind of editing as you go along for sake of time. And so you do know what you're getting into as Chokachi said. But it turned out, apparently, to be a really great film. I'm looking forward to seeing it.
David Hewlett:It's fun. These are sci-fi set movies. They are what they are. But they're fun. I mean I grew up with this stuff. I love this stuff. And working with Yancy and Chok, it requires a certain type of actor who can put up with all of the crap that goes with making these movies and still laugh and still make it enjoyable. And certainly from a director standpoint, I understand how important it is to have an actor with a sense of honor and who's talented enough to be able to jump in there and do stuff.
Yancy Butler: I think that it takes a certain kind of director, truly, to be able to not completely go postal and because of the way that the schedule lends itself. And if they don's have a sense of honor, I think if everybody doesn't have a sense of honor involved, we're kind of screwed on all fronts.
Question: In sci-fi movies there's been zombies, banshees, hybrids like the sharktopus and so many others. How would you rate the Yeti in terms of these other monsters?
David Hewlett: Top of it.
Yancy Butler: I didn't know there was a sharktopus. So I would have no idea. That's new to me.
David Hewlett: I like the Yeti because there's a nice sort of a legend quality to them. I'm a huge fan of snow movies, like I just think snow looks so fantastic on film. So I'd have to rate our Yetis high. Big teeth, big claws and a snowstorm works for me.
David Chokachi: The cool thing about the Yeti which is good and bad is the thing is camouflaged. So it has this predator ability to kind of go invisible and stalk its prey. So, I'd add at any one point during our shooting, Hewlett would be like, ???No, it's invisible right now,??? and then ???No, it's visible. Look out.???
David Hewlett: Of course, when you actually see the movie, you'll see how visible it is while it's invisible. But it's not very good at being invisible I'd say.
David Chokachi: It was cool because one thing I think about for us as actors, the Yeti allowed, especially my character kind of who's not afraid to crack a joke during any kind of stress situation in the film, they're kind of almost endless one-liners basically they have to call the Yeti. And Yeti Burgers and Yeti this and that, and it goes back and forth about this kind of invisible snow monster. And it allows for a bit of levity to kind of come, they called it a group who's literally in this really difficult situation where we're cut off from the world and we're trying to make our escape. So I think the
Yancy Butler: I think that you need some levity in these kinds of films because it could go south any second. But I think we have a really good film here. And the situation with these creatures, inevitably in these sci-fi films, always lends itself too. There's some tension and some drama on how do these people get out of this. And so if there aren't some one-liner jokes in there, you can kind of sink with all of these. And I think it's really imperative that we have those. And Chok really delivered those with aplomb and grace.
Question: Can you tell me how many people actually go up the mountain? Is it just the two of you or is there a bunch of them?
David Hewlett: No, there's a whole team. There's two separate teams. And basically one goes in and gets in trouble, and then the new team comes in to help them out and of course then gets in trouble themselves. So it's kind of fun. You're following sort of two little teams but then they meet up and they meet up and then start arguing. And nobody gets along.
Question: You have to have a lot of people because some people have to die before you get down to the bottom of the mountain
David Chokachi: You got it.
David Hewlett: Yes.
David Chokachi: There's a very strong culling aspect to the group.
David Hewlett: Sci-fi movies always do. You always have a certain setup. We were very lucky and that we got along with David and Yancy, we got a number of great actors from Matt playing David's brother, who's fantastic, and also fantastically tall. All these fantastic British actors as well, like Jonas Armstrong and James Patric Moran who's not actually British, but another great guy to have around.
Question: What research did you guys do to kind of prepare yourself to deal with a Yeti?
David Hewlett: Wikipedia. It's always the first place to go. Craig Engler and Brooks were the writers on this. And they just did a really good job I think of integrating some history in with the with the usual monster stuff. I always like when the monsters are based on sort of historical things rather than just science fiction stuff. I find it much easier to get into when you're grounded in some time of the history. And I think they did a great job with that.
But the reality is in films, there isn't a lot of time to go into the true geeky stuff that I love. We're getting the other stuff that I love which is all action and effects and there's running and shooting and being attacked by giant orangutan.
Yancy Butler: It's easier for somebody like that because as a matter of fact during this film a lot of the characters are learning as the audience is learning really what the capabilities of these creature are about. And we do mention some of the lore in the script and through our lines but I think more as an actor for me I was concentrating more on what a team leader would do in that situation or how that actually goes down. We don't have many search and rescue New York City although we should but that's not something I grew up with.
David Hewlett: I think they weren't so worried about the creatures and the nature of the creatures. I mean the character that really played on that was my character, the Ted character. There was a great scene where he sits down and he opens up this hook and he reads about these yeti and all of the cast sort of gathers around and listens to him, you know talk about how these things took out like an army of soldiers back in the day and stuff. That's one of my favorite scenes and it was shot because we ran out of time and I only had time to do one shot.
Question: When you are playing these characters and you are taking on these roles do they ever revisit you when filming is done?
David Chokachi: Took the T. Rex home with me and I've actually been under house arrest for a while because I had this huge house and was out trying to blow stuff up. I can't shed the Jonas character.
Yancy Butler: I'm playing a character right now that clearly can't be destroyed. I thought she was destroyed and I pretty much contractually made sure that she was going to die at the end of the last film. But it's all in the editing and so yes you just find out that she was a bit horribly maimed and knocked unconscious. So I'm back and better than ever but anything is possible in the sci-fi realm and thank God for that because we might never work again as a collective whole. And there's a joke there too but I'm really tired. But yes, I mean you can do anything. We're talking about snowmen and at the moment Croctopussies and anything is possible. The day is still young.
David Chokachi: When you play these characters I mean obviously you bring a sense of yourself I mean I think all of us do as actors. That's kind of your thing. There's no matter what the character is there's a part of it that's you and who you are as a person. So in essence and whatever the script is and for this, this happens to tap into an exaggerated version of me which is to a tee like this guy who loves to be in these stupid situations and have a smile on his face. It's kind of like what I like to do anyway.
Question: Yancy and David, could you talk about what it was like to get to work together again after Witchblade?
Yancy Butler: Oh my God it was like a dream come true. I mean it has been, what eight years, Chok since we worked together?
David Chokachi: Yes, yes.
Yancy Butler: I said is anybody attached and they said well we are talking to David Chokachi and I was like the minute he says yes you have to tell me. And during Witchblade we were a family. I mean we were really a family and that was a very tough schedule and 16-18 hour days. And here was a movie that did so well that they turned it into a series which was unexpected for all of us.
And I mean clearly we, David and I and all of the guys on that but we have a special relationship and are quite close and it's a dream come true really. I mean for such a difficult shoot especially I don't know if there were some days I could haven't gotten through it without David.
Question: What part in the movie or what memorable part that you were doing, a scene that it became comfortable that this role was yours. Instead of stepping in and let me get used to it. When did it define?
David Chokachi: For me I kind of think like almost in every scene I mean I hope it doesn't get annoying because I got to see the film and I think it actually lends itself to. I'm the kind of comic relief in a sense. And I think it's good because if all us were dead serious in these moments that we saw the invisible monsters, people are going to be like come on, really. I mean like David said there is a fine line about you can't be mugging the camera. There has to be a sense of reality that we're all playing which my character does.
But my character also happens to be like a major thrill seeker so he loves the fact that he is surrounded by a bunch of invisible monsters. And so these one-liners when I first read them, I'm like these are kind of hard. They are hard to pull off as an actor because you got to be truthful in the moment. And first they were hard but more and more as we got into it, it found its own rhythm for me and I was like oh my God, these things, these little one-liners, you know are great.
And then when I actually saw the film I was actually extremely thrilled because they allow everybody else a little bit to go either, shut up you idiot with some sort of a look or it breaks the tension of the moment. And it allows us all to be human beings I think. So I think once I got a few of those one-liners in I kind of felt like this character is me and I can really run with this and have a lot of fun and also be truthful to the piece. So that was it for me and Jonas.
David Hewlett: You and Matt had a great dynamic together too.
David Chokachi: Yes and obviously he would say my brother which is perfect played by Matthew Anderson.
Yancy Butler: Oh it was great.
Return to Articles at Pazsaz Entertainment Network