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Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008

Wisconsin’s Hodag Horror

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For years, when students graduated from film school, true north seemed to lie west, in Los Angeles. The digital age, however, has freed filmmakers from relying on any one city to make their projects come alive. A group of UW-Milwaukee film school graduates pooled their resources and made their first feature film right here in Wisconsin.

Brendan Thain Jones was instrumental in the making of Backwoods Bloodbath: Curse of the Black Hodag, an award-winning horror film directed by Donn Kennedy.

What was your role in the production?
I did post-production management and I was also the first assistant director throughout the film. Everyone did as much as they could to make it succeed. It was an exciting process over 14 months, starting in October of 2006. We first screened it in October 2007 and now the film is being sold.

You shot the film in Rhinelander, Hartland, Brookfield and Prairie du Chien. What are some of the benefits of filming here in Wisconsin?
You can shoot anything, because we have a great landscape. We have the metropolitan, residential, farmland and rural areas. We also have the shore, the North Woods and all the lakes. Working in Wisconsin is nice because you can do anything, really.

What is a hodag exactly?
The hodag is a friendly creature the Chamber of Commerce in Rhinelander uses as an icon, sort of like the legend of Paul Bunyan. It’s typically green, horned and walks on all fours.

How did your story portray the legend?
Our hodag is a black hodag with white spines and dreadlocks. Everyone asks, “Is he a Jamaican hodag?” No! The actor had dreadlocks and we didn’t have the budget to cover them up. So yea, it does look a little like a Jamaican hodag from northern Wisconsin.

What’s your next step?
I recently started my own company, Jonesinfilm Productions LLC, which focuses on the production of music videos and live performance recordings.

Do you see yourself working with Donn Kennedy again?
We’re banding together again to start a local indie production company to do advertising for businesses, but also to keep our dream alive doing feature film. We want to use local talent, because there is a lot of talent here in Milwaukee, but a lot of people just give up. I want local bands, businesses, filmmakers and crew to know that we promote the use of local resources. It’s to keep the film community alive and buzzing, because too many people look at the big picture and don’t see themselves in it. You just have to remain active and everything else follows.

Brendan T. Jones | Photos by Chris Bluhm



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