Next up in our ongoing series highlighting the film projects that were produced during the 100 day challenge laid out by Taliesin Nexus’ Liberty Lab for Film, we bring you another comedy web-series. Wigs was created by writer Richard Mattox and director Matt Edwards (both SCC contributors).
Sick and tired of seeing all the attention that comic book superheroes garner on the sidewalks of Hollywood Blvd., Virginia, a widowed grandmother with some disposable income, forms “Wigs on Wheels”, a group of historical re-enactors who travel around Los Angeles bringing real American heroes like Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Dolley and James Madison to life. Overzealous police, smart-aleck kids, and internal subversion are all present in this hilarious comedy.
Wigs garnered first place and the filmmakers were awarded $2000 for their work during the 100 Day Challenge of the Liberty Lab for Film.
[Update: Taliesin Nexus has extended the deadline to apply for this year’s Liberty Lab for Film until midnight Monday the 25th for all you last minute shoppers out there.]
Smash Cut Culture: What drew you to becoming a filmmaker?
Richard Mattox: I was always interested in the performing arts. I had experience acting, playing music, and singing all throughout my childhood. But I think it was Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy that inspired my to become a filmmaker. I remember writing my own sequel to the films. It was a 10 page script in which I was the lead. I can still remember standing behind my mom as she operated the camera, banging pots and pans together for sound as my neighborhood friends tromped around the snow fighting with plastic swords.
Matt Edwards: Growing up in Los Angeles I was exposed very early on to the behind-the-scenes action of some of my generations favorite TV shows. With action scenes from shows like Knight Rider, The Fall Guy and The A-Team being filmed on the streets of my neighborhood, I figured every kid knew how the “sausage was made” and it was no big deal. When I hit college and met more people not from LA, I realized how lucky I was to have sort of a home court advantage when it came to being comfortable trying to make it in Hollywood and I better not waste the chance. Plus I fell in love with Hitchcock movies at about age 9, and never looked back.
SCC: What inspired the story behind Wigs?
RM: Good grief. My parents both work for the James Madison Institute in Florida. My father does a lot of work promoting civics education and, to help at events, he frequently hires a few reenactors to portray various American figures. A few years ago, the actor intended to play James Madison cancelled a few hours before an event. I was visiting them in Tallahassee at the time and, in a pinch, my dad had me put on the cravat and tights and go on as the understudy. I had to cram a few anecdotes and basic facts on Madison and then I was on. I performed alongside a seasoned veteran: Benjamin Franklin, who refused to be called anything except Dr. Franklin until he was out of his costume.
I filled in a few more times and got to know several reenactors in the process. They are some of the most eccentric and brilliant people I have ever met. The world was so rich, and I love history, so it sparked the concept behind Wigs.
ME: Richard brought in this awesome idea, sparked by his experience with reenactors, about a bunch of historical figures from all over the world all living together in a big house like some crazy reality show. Interacting in short quick funny bits. After partnering up we developed a more episodic storyline that could carry through multiple episodes or even seasons. We pared down the character list to some classic notable Americans and threw in some of the lesser known figures, like Dolley & James Madison and Frederick Douglas because, let’s face it – it doesn’t all have to be about Washington, Franklin and Lincoln. Although since we found the actual Abraham Lincoln re-incarnate, we kept Lincoln.
SCC: What influence, if any, do you hope this story has on the culture?
RM: For me, I just hope it inspires people to re-engage with history. The principles and passions that were the basis for our country’s creation feel very distant today. What Wigs may be able to do is, in a way that is absurd and occasionally erroneous, depict how members of modern society interact with the actual people who were there. Characters humanize these concepts, whether they’re personalities as iconic as Abe Lincoln, or figures we should know more about, like Madison.
ME: First and foremost, I hope it just makes people smile and laugh. We had such a great time filming and I think that shows in the writing, performances, and loose shooting style. If people happen to walk away from it thinking they want to learn more about figures like Frederick Douglas and his important contributions and place in American history than that’s terrific. If it’s the first time they’ve heard the first amendment spoken aloud, outside of a civics class, and it made them think about how it pertains to their lives, then all that is a bonus to having a good time.
Wigs will be screening at the Northside Film Festival in Brooklyn, NY June 8 and at the Anthem Film Festival in Las Vegas July 8 and 11. You can watch a trailer for it below and find out more about the series at WigsSeries.com.