Did you know Boulder has a film production company? Did you know this company recently wrapped production on a movie called Woodshop starring former Professional-Wrestler-turned-action-movie-star-turned-Minnesota-Governor-turned-actor Jesse Ventura? Did you know the movie is a dramedy about a high school valedictorian forced to take woodshop class in order to avoid an “F” due to a chem lab ab accident that almost killed his teacher? Did you know that Peter Coggan, the writer and filmmaker behind this movie—and the owner of the production company—also happens to be a Douglas Adams fan (we guess, based on the fact that the name of his company references the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s answer to Life the Universe and Everything… and Coggan’s imdb.com bio was written by “Zaphod Beeblebrox”) and not a Tom Cruise fan? Neither did we. Read on…
French Davis: Tell me about 42 Productions—a little history about the organization and how it has grown since its inception.
Peter Coggan: 42 was formed to fill a void in the Colorado Production Community. Six years ago, and arguably today, there was/is no other option for film resolution end to end production and finishing. I had to build the company so that I could work here. Pretty simple reason, much more interesting execution. We have filled out the company and offer a complete range of production and editorial options for clients. But, the same care and attention to detail is the constant between all of the levels on our rate card.
FD: Why here in Colorado…in Boulder? What’s the draw to making a film here?
PC: Very simply question. Boulder is an inspiring place to live and work. It is by no means easier than working in a big film center, however. We need to work a lot harder to find talented people in all areas of our productions. We have made it a point to assert ourselves as a “Boulder” production company as Colorado, Denver in particular, does not necessarily have a lot of curb appeal and acceptance in places like Hollywood. What does a place like “Calgary, Alberta” bring to your mind? Probably a lot of the same things Denver does to a lot of the Hollywood crowd. Not that it is entirely accurate, but it is pretty tough to fight stereotypes. So, we’re a Boulder company. Home of Mork from Ork, most of Colorado’s fruits, nuts and flakes, etc. This serves us a lot better with much of the out-of-state crowd than the Denver Metro area. We are OK with that. A couple of the other draws we have are backdrops for almost any scene and more exterior shoot days a year than SoCal. There aren’t a lot of Powder days in L.A. either…
FD: I’ll refrain from the obvious cocaine joke on that one. Tell us about Woodshop. Where did this story come from?
PC: The ideas for Woodshop were inspired by many of my own experiences in high school woodshop. However, the very nature of storytelling for a living means doing just that; taking some inspiration and pulling the details out of the ether. For instance, no one blew up a car, let alone a Prius, in the parking lot of my woodshop.
FD: Jesse Ventura stars in it. Tell us about working with such a unique guy—wrestler-turned-actor-turned-governor. What was that like?
PC: “The Guv” is one of the most down to earth, intelligent, talented individuals I have ever worked with. He has a lot of opinions and great ideas. He also has some pretty radical ideas he challenges you with daily. I like it when people have enough intelligence and background to really make you think, so we get along famously. He shows a tremendous amount of respect to people when the same is shown to him. I hope to work with him for a lot of years to come.
FD: How has the landscape of filmmaking changed since you’ve been making films?
PC: Good storytelling has not changed at all. We have a lot of new and different tools, but at the end of the day, it is all about telling a good story. If you are curious about the film industry; that’s kind of like asking, “What was it like to be a T-Rex after the asteroid hit?” The good news for me is that I have always positioned myself to be more like a little furry mammal capable of adapting quickly while the Apex Predators don’t fair so well. Evolution isn’t always fun for the old top of the pyramid. I fully anticipate being on top of the new ones and hope a second asteroid doesn’t hit for the next few years.
FD: What are the biggest obstacles to filmmaking that you face as a Boulder-based company?
PC: So many people move to this area from “real” places that it is very hard them to believe that something “real” can actually happen here. “Real” stuff happens where everyone moved from and a lot of “natives” want no part of anything “real” period. It makes for a sometimes frustrating but always amusing artistic community. And, the fact that the area is home to more artistic hobbyists than anywhere I have ever seen, makes for a slightly challenging professional environment as well. We have given up trying to convince people we are real. We are here making movies.
FD: What are the biggest advantages?
PC: The 5-minute commute isn’t too bad. And, of course, my partners in crime are the best anywhere.
FD: What advice would you offer a fledging film company who wanted to exist outside of L.A. or New York?
PC: Tell a good story and know your tools cold.
FD: What are some recent films you’ve enjoyed? Why?
PC: I haven’t had time to watch many recent movies. I am a sucker for the SciFi Channel and find it my first choice of media to tune out to.
FD: Who are some filmmakers that have most greatly influenced you?
PC: Ridley Scott is my favorite. Walt Disney, Lucas, Spielberg, and the Cohens are up there as well. Everyone always expects a profound answer to this one. Sorry, I don’t have one. I like “go-home-happy” movies that are made well.
FD: If you had an unlimited budget and access to any stars you wanted, what project would you like to tackle?
PC: I would write an epic SciFi trilogy, what else? Stars tend to be good for getting a movie sold so; I guess I would cast Tom Cruise and kill his character during the opening credits.
Woodshop stars Jesse Ventura (and includes a cameo by our publisher’s son, Nick Snyder), and was filmed in the Boulder area. It’s expected out this fall. For information visit 42 Productions.