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Doggie Boogie Starts to Boogie
by Don Schwartz
Director Romanus Wolter, right, and two his stars, Jesse Draper and Pijo. photo: courtesy R. Wolter
"Will Pijo, the adorable bichon pup, save the day?" That’s the question indie writer/producer/director
asks in his second BayArea-produced movie, “
", a whimsical, family-friendly feature.
Premiering on August 31st, "Doggie Boogie" is a spectacle, replete with fantastic sets and costumes, about how Pijo helps his owner and her relatives achieve their dreams through competitive canine dancing.
“It’s highly unusual, not to mention improbable, that a feature film—not a short, but a family-themed feature, made by an unknown, first-time feature director, who resides not in LA, but San Francisco, with practically zero budget—would reap the kind of success it has, in the form of solid domestic and international distribution," noted Bay Area veteran actor and acting/singing teacher Bettina Devin the other day when we chatted. She plays the story’s villainess, Gertrude Spinner, a ten-time dog dance champion who will do anything to stop Pijo and his owner.
"I don’t really know very many independent films made in the Bay Area that have achieved that," continued Devin enthusiastically. "Not only did Romanus manage to lasso limited theatrical distribution [which usually means being shown at off hours in remote theaters] but to actually land runs like a week-long showing in a theater, in the Village, in New York."
"This is in addition to all the on-demand channels like iTunes, Amazon, Comcast, Hulu, I don’t even know them all. At one point, 'Doggie B' ranked above a popular Disney film on the Amazon charts!"
The evil Gertrude played by veteran local actress Bettina Devin. photo: courtesy R. Wolter
Director Wolter’s first participation in feature production was “
” which he co-produced and assistant directed. That experience was the springboard to “Doggie Boogie”.
Finding functional distribution can be more challenging than the already-daunting production fundraising marathon. Congratulations are in order for our local hero since his first solo feature is also being distributed.
“Doggie Boogie” has been picked up by
Phase 4 Films
for the United States and Canada. The film’s been re-titled as “Doggie B” for these territories. (And is listed in IMDB under that title.) The distribution agreement includes a limited theatrical presentation, a VOD release via many outlets which occurred on August 31st of this year, and a November 27th release for DVD which includes rental availability via Red Box.
In fact, Toys R Us will be carrying the movie just in time for the holidays, and Phase 4 Films is pursuing television broadcast as well as other distribution channels. International distribution is being provided by
which is retaining the film’s original title, “Doggie Boogie”. They will be marketing the DVD and pursuing theatrical presentations.
One of the dance contests in 'Doggie Boogie'. photo: courtesy R. Wolter
“It’s incredible. This man had no money. He didn’t know anybody. He just did it. He had a dream. He’s an amazing business man with indefatigable focus," added Devin.
"Each time he would make some headway by attracting notable talents to the production, be they Jane Wiedlin, founder of the Go Gos, [who came on board to play one of the principal roles and write a lot of the songs, including the theme song], Robin Lee [veteran editor with years of working on Lucas films under his belt], or Ron Vidor [well-known 'king' of steadycam arena in LA since its first use], he would manage to attract more and more ‘believers.’"
And then, as he amassed more footage, Romanus would show it to different people with skills and experience to crew who not only joined the production right then and there but actually went on to become investors! How often do you hear THAT happening?
“I’ve been in a lot of independent films, made up here primarily, and it’s been almost impossible for most of them to get on Comcast, Netflix, etc," Devin explained. "Romanus has accomplished all this in addition to international distribution—all to the point that the distributors are even interested in assisting him on the making of “Doggie Boogie 2”.
'Doggie Boogie''s respledent stars in full display on the film's poster. photo: courtesy Doggie Boogie
It’s a classic case of art imitating life, since that is somewhat the story of “Doggie Boogie". And on the way to distribution, “Doggie B” won the Audience Favorite Feature Award at the 2012 Sonoma Film Festival. Whether you adore the film or not, "Look at the facts, ma’am.”
Viewing the horizon, Wolter is finalizing his “Doggie Boogie 2” script, writing/directing his first national commercial, eyeing his first feature documentary, and envisions mentoring filmmakers.
Posted on Dec 12, 2012 - 01:16 AM