I had a myriad of reasons for my decision to focus on indie film when I entered the world of film journalism. For the most part, however, it came down to the simple fact that I found myself wanting to empower up-and-coming filmmakers and I wanted to review original, creative storytelling that is often completely absent from your typical Hollywood wide release motion picture.
I mean, seriously. If you look at the MCU, how many different stories are really being told?
While I do cover wide release films, my focus has long been on the indie world and that's what my readers expect and even want. They want to discover diamonds in the rough and they, like me, are hoping to discover that next filmmaker or performer simply working their way up.
In most ways, it's films like Bae Wolf that inspired my focus on independent cinema.
Set in 500 AD, Bae Wolf is a queer retelling of the Beowulf legend. In the film, a monster known as Grendel (Josh Kern) is terrorizing the drunken revelers of Heorot ruled by Queen Walchtheo (Rachel Petsiavas). In search of a hero who can help save the people, the heroic Beowulf (Jennifer Hill) offers help. That hero, however, may very well guard a secret more dangerous than the monster itself.
Written and directed by David Axe, Bae Wolf isn't necessarily a perfect film yet it possesses much of what I love about indie cinema - imaginative storytelling, risk-taking filmmaking, and an ensemble cast giving it their all without the benefit of a behind-the-scenes production team that will rescue their asses if things go awry.
Bae Wolf is balls to the walls filmmaking.
This darkly comical fantasy was filmed over 10 days in South Carolina. No, it wasn't filmed in Denmark. And no, you never once think that it actually was filmed in Denmark.
That doesn't matter.
The gender switch for Beowulf is imaginative and effective. Jennifer Hill is most certainly effective here and an absolute joy to watch. As Grendel, Josh Kern gives one of the film's strongest films and is joined by Katie Langdale as his mother. While ultra-indie cinema is always a little hit-and-miss in terms of acting, the truth is this is a fine ensemble cast and it's wonderful to watch them surrendering to this unique, inspired storytelling.
Original music by Matt Akers and Gauge Santiago complements the story telling and kudos must be given to the film's makeup team along with costumers Mike Amason and Haley Runa Strehl.
Bae Wolf is one of those under-the-radar indie films that deserves to find an audience. Picked up by indie distributor Bayview Entertainment, it's the kind of film that fans of microcinema will adore while those who are used to Hollywood wide releases won't likely be able to get past the film's production deficits caused by working within the confines of a budget likely smaller than the toilet paper budget on a James Cameron film.
For the record, I'm not a fan of James Cameron films. I'd watch Bae Wolf over Avatar again anyday.
Bae Wolf isn't a perfect film by a long shot. However, it's an imaginative and gutsy film with solid direction and lensing by David Axe and a full-on committed ensemble cast filled with equally gutsy performances. I'll say it again. It's films like Bae Wolf that got me into indie cinema and I've never looked back.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic