The onslaught of Hollywood talent making the hop from traditional to digital is looking more and more like the exodus from Egypt that has transcended centuries. One of Hollywood’s latest crossovers, comedian and writer-director Fred Wolf, has already found subjective success in his first straight to digital feature film — Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser — and says he “definitely wants to do it again.” In short, SNL’s Fred Wolf digs digital.
But like any project, the Crackle feature film had its drawbacks and its perks, many of which Wilson notes he actually enjoyed. “The movie I directed before was “The House Bunny” and the budget was $25 Million, so going from a $25 million budget to an internet budget was part of the challenge I actually liked,” said Wilson.
However, in watching Joe Dirt 2 on Crackle, the movie doesn’t feel “low budget” by any standards. In fact, the visual character and cinematography look consistent if not stronger than in the original Joe Dirt. For those who reveled in the slapstick comedy that garnered a cult following for the base-headed, oft-innocently-cursed, Joe Dirt, played by David Spade, even the cameos, returning cast and comedic tone felt more like a reunion than a downgraded lower budget picture. And to the untrained, unseasoned eye, there’s little to no distinguishable differences between Wolf’s latest film and his early-day turned classic comedies like “Tommy Boy” and “Black Sheep”.
But that’s the beauty of digital, right, that loose and agile style? For Wolf, it was that exact ability to return to a lean and gritty, rebel-like operation that, to him, feels more like the early glory days of Hollywood than the bogged down studio churn that exists at present, musing that at times what was most fun was the fact that digital isn’t constrained by rules with the Big Hollywood Bosses breathing down your creative neck. And the return to Wolf’s quick-twitch shooting style was a relief and very much in his comfort zone.
“Dave [Spade] and I worked at Saturday Night Live for long time and the run and gun style is right up my alley. I love the immediate gratification of seeing something done quickly,” he said. Having been lead writer on SNL for 4 years (1992–1996), Wolf reminisced how it wasn’t always easy turning around a 90 minute live show on a weekly basis, which if you count his tenure at the show accounts for roughly over 120 hours of live comedy programming, far fewer than the few dozen hours produced for theatrical and now digital release. “This was not super hard if we thought of it in terms of Saturday night live. I would say this was easier than what it’s like to do a full season of SNL.”
But for a project like Joe Dirt, which Wolf believes its a genre that can fit well with the internet, having to make compromises to make the budget work had to be carefully selected. “This is Joe Dirt. It’s not Godfather IV. My biggest problem, as director, was to say, “We’re going to be cutting corners but let’s not cut corners that make the movie look shot.” You have to stick with the shots that you know you can make beautiful and cut the shots that that you’d love to have in the editing room but ultimately don’t need to shoot.” A great tip that many digital-first creators have no doubt had to consider.
Wolf wasn’t the only Hollywood local staging a first toe-dip into digital, many of the cast members from the original Joe Dirt like Dennis Miller, Christopher Walken, and Brittany Daniel returned in the sequel with equally high spirits to be having fun with a project that to Wolf “represents the future”.
Why, yes, sir, I believe it does.
And because I had to prioritize some of Wolf’s anecdotes about the cast, I wanted to share a few extra excerpts from our interview below. Because, when else will VideoInk have a chance to reminisce like Walken? Exactly.
As told by Fred Wolf: