Did you have any problems shooting on the streets of Chicago with a guy running around in an ape suit?
Matt: The average Chicago citizen was pretty much unfazed by our circus of a cameraman being chased by a punk rocker being chased by a bigfoot, being chased by a nerd. It was Christmas season, and we had to deal with the curious shoppers interrupting shots to ask if they could be in the movie, and if we worked for Spielberg. Without a doubt, the biggest challenge was getting the shot where Skunk Ape body slams the character, Scab (played by Jon Maiullo) off the Michigan Avenue bridge into the Chicago river. We had no permits because to do it legally would have cost more than just going to jail and getting the ticket. We decided to have our actor chuck the dummy over the side, have me reel it in, and hope that nobody called the cops saying they saw some poor teen get hurled 150 ft into the icy river. The whole fiasco was coordinated with walkie-talkies, maps, and getaway cars. I was prepared to be the fall-guy when the pigs busted us, but luckily (thanks to constant walkie-talkie intelligence) we were able to avoid the cops and come home with three angles of a highly illegal ape body slam from Chicago’s most recognizable bridge. It’s truly a first in Chicago cinema history!

Were there any major problems in making Skunk Ape!?
Matt: We began production just after 9-11. Suddenly, I got laid off, and Greg was between jobs. This meant that when we weren’t shooting, we were scrounging for work. It also forced us to shoot on the cheap with a steady crew of about three. That’s myself, my brother, and the singer of our nerd-punk band, Dr.Killbot, Steve Albertson. The small crew made it a real challenge to manage all the locations (and there were a LOT for a short film). It also made for some intense, long nights of shooting: The cabin scene comes to mind. With only one night at the location (our old boy scout camp) and about 70 shots to get, we had to stay focused and on-task. Thank God mom made nachos! It’s cool that even though we were broke, and starving, we managed to make a movie that people actually enjoy watching…especially when drunk.

Will there be a sequel to Skunk Ape!?
Matt: Unlikely. I do expect him to make cheap cameos in future projects. Look for him as “The Goofy Waiter”, “Concerned Onlooker”, and “Slutty Housewife”. Plus, I think he’s too busy nurturing his sex-lationship with our lead, Chad Wheeler to have time for such an endeavor.

Have you ever had a Billy Bass tell you to do your laundry?
Greg: Billy Bass telling me to do my laundry? That’s just ridiculous! The only thing he tells me is not to worry and that I should be happy… Well that and he keeps telling me it’s time to get a mammogram for some reason.

How did you wind up with so many Billy Bass for Of Bass and Men? Was Billy a financer?
Greg: We shot Of Bass and Men right after the robotic singing fish bubble burst. They used to cost about $20 each, but I bought seven for $35. The batteries cost more than the fish did. I considered asking Billy for some money, but all of his cash is tied up in funding for extreme right-wing terrorist sleeper cells…or perhaps I’ve said too much.

Have either of you ever been obsessed with Billy Bass?
Greg: The first time I saw one I was in line at Walgreens. I was looking at this fish when suddenly it started singing. Scared the hell outta me. My fear quickly turned to intrigue then to lust. After filming began, that lust turned to frustration, and then quickly to hatred. I poured so much into that fucking relationship and he gave nothing! I am like so over Billy it’s not even funny.

Any upcoming projects?
Matt: Yeah, we’re both writing our own feature scripts. Mine’s a sort of “Barton Fink”-ish dark comedy about movie theater employees torturing each other. Greg’s is more of a comedy/mystery about a bunch of freaks trapped in a hotel by mutant unicorns. Not sure which one will be made first.

See the happy moron,
He doesn’t give a damn.
I wish I were a moron–
My God, perhaps I am!

Visit the Brookens Brothers at the Zabba Zabba Productions website.

Posted on August 30, 2004 in Interviews by

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