Filmmakers in Focus - The Dog, The Legend of Shorty and That Guy Dick Miller

Written by Jim Kolmar | February 12, 2014
(L-R) Filmmakers Allison Berg & Frank Keraudren, Elijah Drenner and Angus Macqueen and

The unique films, three iconic figures. The subjects of today's Filmmakers in Focus titles are all enigmatic men who, one way or another, have found themselves in the public eye.

The Dog looks at a most unusual criminal, briefly very famous in the early 70s, while the subject of The Legend of Shorty is still making headlines, thanks to the ongoing "war on drugs" in Mexico and beyond. Meanwhile, the eponymous star of That Guy Dick Miller is one of the most prolific, identifiable actors around, yet somehow remains an unsung hero.

Read about these three remarkable characters, and browse the rest of our Filmmakers in Focus on the archive page.
Want to watch the films? Do yourself a favor and register for your badge to attend on this page.

Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren on The Dog

The Dog, courtesy Drafthouse Films

Tell us a little about your film.

The Dog is the story of John Wojtowicz, who, in 1972, attempted to rob a brooklyn bank to pay for his lover's sex-change operation. The incident turned into a 14 hour standoff, involving 9 hostages, and captivated New Yorkers as it unfolded on television. It later became the basis for Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon, starring Al Pacino. The Dog tells the story of what happened before, during and after the bank robbery. It is a portrait of John Wojtowicz telling his story for the first time, in his own unique, hilarious, alarming, exhilarating and always unfiltered way."

Why did you start making films?

ALLISON: I always loved films but it never occurred to me that I could actually do it for a living. I was working at an international human rights organization right after college when a childhood friend asked me to help make a short film - I was completely hooked. I love the work - the collaboration, the challenges, the adventure, the unexpected moments we capture, the relationships that form, figuring out how to tell the story, getting to work on a new idea and becoming obsessed with it (sometimes for years), and the experience of sharing it with an audience.

FRANK: I don't recall why I started making films, I just did, gradually. I was always interested in images and sounds, the process of recording and assembling, whether it was with a camera or a cassette player. It evolved into making films, as my interest in stories, characters, people and places did. I was also always a fan of films in general, watching everything I could from a young age.

Have you been to SXSW before? Any tips?

Yes! We first came to SXSW a decade ago in 2004 with our first collaboration, Witches in Exile, a documentary about women accused of witchcraft and banished to witch villages, which was filmed in Ghana. The film won the Special Jury Prize.

We had a great time seeing lots of films and a few bands and meeting other filmmakers. We're mostly looking forward to reconnecting with old friends, meeting new filmmakers and checking out their work. SXSW is a great place to interact with filmmakers and audiences, and we're looking forward to doing it again this year."

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

It took us a decade to make *The Dog", and we funded the film ourselves. This can be interpreted as meaning that we're:

(a) Insane (b) Tenacious (c) Independent filmmakers (d) all of the above.

Angus Macqueen and Guillermo Galdos on The Legend Of Shorty

The Legend of Shorty courtesy Ronachan Films

Tell us a little about your film.

The film aims to be a tragic farce. We decided to try and find Joaquin Guzman, the head of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, supposedly the Most Wanted Man in the World because after ten years of making films about "the war on drugs" we distrust nearly everything we are told by all sides. For all the danger and terrible violence in Mexico, we found Guzman exactly where we expected.

This begs the question of why the US and Mexican governments have not after a decade of looking. Using specially composed songs and music, as well as archive, the film explores the astonishing world of the most powerful drugs organisation in the world.

Why did you start making films?

Having lived in Poland and the Soviet Union in the early 1980's, I was uniquely placed to seek out the untold stories of that part of the world as they opened up and spoke for the first time. Perfect for learning how to make documentaries about history, life and politics.

Have you been to SXSW before? What are you most looking forward to?

No. Meeting brilliant creative artists.

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

My company Ronachan means "seal's point" in Gaelic, which looks out over the whisky islands of Islay and Jura.

I lived and worked in Siberia for a year and a half in the early 1980s.

Elijah Drenner on That Guy Dick Miller

That Guy Dick Miller courtesy Autumn Rose Productions

Tell us a little about your film.

This film chronicles the life and career of famed-character actor Dick Miller. It charts the early stages of his work with low-budget maverick Roger Cormam in the 50s, to Dick's struggle with making ends meet in the 60s. Our man Miller hits his stride in the 1971 when he becomes a good-luck charm for Corman's young protégés, as they repeatedly cast him in their films over the next decade - a practice that continued as those filmmakers moved into the studio system of the 80s, 90s. Dick continues to work to this day.

Why did you start making films?

I've been making little shorts with friends since I was a teenager.

Have you been to SXSW before? Any tips?

Yes. My only tip is to just go with the flow and try and see as many other films as you can. Care about your own movie, but care more about meeting new people and seeing their films.

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

This documentary started out as a 20-minute piece for the German DVD release of Roger Corman's War of The Satellites. It features Dick's only real heroic leading role. The planned release hit a snafu, so we decided to make it into a feature instead.

Photo credits: The Dog, courtesy Drafthouse Films
That Guy Dick Miller courtesy Autumn Rose Productions
The Legend of Shorty courtesy Ronachan Films