Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Return of the Dogman
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Return of the Dogman

Filmmaker revisits a local legend

Erin Crowell - October 28th, 2013  

It’s nearly two in the morning in Benzie County when the quiet of the forest is pierced by a woman’s shriek.

She discovers one of her puppies is dead. That’s when the coyotes start to circle… It’s another night of filming for Rich Brauer and his team. The Traverse City filmmaker— whose directing credits include “Deadrise,” “Frozen Stupid” and “Mr. Art Critic,” to name a few—is in the middle of wrapping up his latest film, “Dogman 2: The Wrath of the Litter,” a follow-up to his 2012 horror flick, “Dogman.”

The film crew is familiar with scenes like this: night, screams, death, shock… but what they didn’t plan on were coyotes.

“When Kimberly (an actress) did her shriek in the woods, these coyotes just came closer and closer to try to investigate,” Brauer recalls. “The script advisor, Amber, and I later went up into the woods we spotted the scout just sitting there, barking at us… just this rhythmic bark. He was not afraid. Not concerned. Just watching us. It was a beautiful time to just be in the woods and see how nature has a system out there.”


That system, from the cycle of the moon to the dance between predator and prey, can also be haunting – particularly this time of year when the legend of the Dogman comes to life.

Based off author Steve Cook’s original song that first aired on WTCM radio in 1987, both Dogman films tell the tale of a Northern Michigan creature, a “large dog that appears to walk upright.”

“It’s not your typical werewolf,” says Buzz Smith, in charge of special effects and animatronics for the creature. “The dogman can’t speak but is smart enough to operate and manipulate things. It’s mostly a dog with human traits.”

Pulling off such a look requires careful attention to detail and a costume with 23 moveable parts.

“Because of the costume’s thick fur, we can hide the zippers and joints,” Smith explains. “Our goal was to build an outfit a person can wear and not have it look like a Muppet.”

In order to add to the realism, actors stand on stilts, specially designed by Smith, which serve two purposes: making the dogmen taller while creating a dog leg effect.

“It’s like the movie Avatar,” says Walt Who, one of a couple actors who gets to work in the dogman costumes . “I feel like I’m in a different body. I’m 5’10’ but with helmet and stilts, I’m eight feet tall. It’s pretty amazing.”

“He’s actually only this tall,” Smith chimes in, leveling his hand off at Who’s waist and laughing.


You’ll find the crew joking like this often during the film’s three-week shoot.

“Rich operates this set like a family,” Smith says.

“Yeah, Buzz is like a brother to me,” Who adds.

While there may be 27 people on set joking and laughing between takes, it’s all business once the camera starts rolling; but it’s not because Brauer runs it like a drill sergeant.

“I love the collaboration and overtone of this thing. I don’t make this stuff alone. I rely on all sorts of people with all sorts of skill sets,” Brauer says, adding the people he recruits are naturally driven and passionate about what they do.

“Everybody can turn to somebody for help,” Smith says. “You pitch in anywhere you have to and if you have a suggestion, Rich listens. He may not use it,” he adds laughing, “because he has his own vision, but there’s been several times people will chime in like, ‘There’s a weird reflection in that shot and he’s like, ‘Thanks, I missed that!’” Laura Burnell, the first assistant director, describes her own role on set.

“This is the best way I can explain it, I’m responsible for everything and in control of nothing, whereas Amber (Elliott) as the script supervisor, has control of everything and is responsible for nothing. She’s making sure we get what we need and I’m making sure we get it in a timely manner.”


This mentality of a solid pack carries throughout the crew, maybe a bit too literal for the guys playing the lead role.

“It’s drummed into them,” Smith says about embracing the role of a dog. “I’m behind them saying, ‘Don’t lock your head. Weave! Weave! Think about going after that shot like you’re going after your favorite ball!’” “It’s gotten to the point where I’m even peeing on trees,” says Dan Hall, a martial artist who was recruited for the role that requires agility and stamina.

“The reason I got Dan is because I’ve seen videos of him going up six feet in the air, doing a spin kick and landing on his feet,” says Smith. “I know he can fall the four feet he risks on the stilts.”

With the combination of the right look and movement, the crew hopes to pull off a menacing creature – which is a new element in the follow-up film.

“We successfully played the Hitchcock card in the first movie and showed only the reaction, not the action,” Brauer explains. “This time, people are going to see the creatures. That’s where Buzz and his team came into the picture and created those great beasts.”


Although many things remain the same— such as returning crew and cast members, like Larry Joe Campbell (“According to Jim”) and Mariann Mayberry (“War of the Worlds”)—there is one thing significantly different about Brauer’s latest film compared to previous works.

“We’ve ramped up the violence,” Brauer greatly understates.

As their lunch break wraps up, the crew gets ready to start filming a scene involving local and national actor/author, Benjamin Busch.

His character, a cyclist transporting his bike along an isolated country road, is about to get a surprise.

“Five minutes!” Burnell yells into the hand radio. “Alright,” she starts to explain of the shooting schedule for that evening, “We’ll be killing our driver here and that shouldn’t take long. It should be a pretty nice special effect. And then from here, we’ll be heading up to the hill to kill a couple more people.”

She thinks about the comparisons between this film and the others.

“I think Rich has to confirm, but this has to be the first Brauer movie where we’ve actually killed anybody. Ever.”

Unlike most horror/thriller film directors, Brauer is particular about violence.

“This film is man against nature. I don’t like the man-versus-man concept, there’s too much of that already in the real world,” he notes. “There’s enough of that going on.”

The dogman is as close as Brauer will go to crossing that line.

So, the question may not be, ‘does the dog man exist?’ but ‘does the dogman exist within us?’

Rich Brauer’s film, “Dogman 2: The Wrath of the Litter,” is set to release Spring of 2014. Stay tuned by visiting brauer.com.

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