By Jenny Neyman
Sooo, there’s this half man, half moose, and a kid in a tin hat, some squirrel hunters, an overly aggressive redneck and his overly chilled-out brother, a troupe of mimes and a mountain pirate who is plenty piratey but lives inland due to his probable fear of the water.
Oh, and a Wasilla cartoonist who decides to become a moviemaker and created a supernatural creature feature-slash-comedy for DVD release that is now so popular it’s being shown in movie theaters across Alaska and the Lower 48.
That last part is real. The cartoonist is Chad Carpenter, author of the Tundra comics, and the creature feature is “Moose the Movie.” He got the idea on a drive home from Fairbanks about two years ago that it’d be fun to make a full-length movie.
“I thought, ‘If I want to make one of these in Alaska, what would be kind of a fun creature? And I thought a carnivore is too easy. A bear or a wolf, that’s too easy.’ So I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be kind of fun to make a moose the bad guy?’ And that’s where the half man, half moose came up and I thought, ‘Ah, a moosetaur,’” Carpenter said.
Some fast and furious scriptwriting, recruitment of family and friends, a much wider recruitment of volunteers and donations of props and filming locations, 50 straight 16-hour days of filming, plus editing and post-production work, and “Moose the Movie” was born, just about two years from Carpenter’s car ride to the film’s release last month.
“This is a movie made in Alaska, by Alaskans, starring Alaskans,” Carpenter said.
And the humor is definitely Alaskan — a requisite amount of flannel, a diner where not only the spoons are greasy, but the bug zapper adding extra protein to the meals, and the leading lady exemplifying the incongruous multitasking that is a staple of Alaska small towns.
The film has done far better in Alaska than Carpenter ever dreamed, for something he figured he’d do with some friends, release on DVD and maybe sell a few copies. The film has just had its initial two-week run at Valley Cinema extended for another week and is being released at other theaters in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Kenai, as well as the Lower 48.
“What we’ve been getting so far from just Alaskans has obviously been a lot bigger response than we ever expected. We knew it’d be fun but we’ve had a lot of people who have been going to see it multiple times. That’s a big surprise. But the big test will be once we get it outside Alaska, will it be as popular? In some ways it might be more popular because it is so unique and Alaska is such a hot commodity right now that a lot of people will see it because it is Alaskan,” Carpenter said.
The distribution work is yet another brand-new hat Carpenter and his team have had to learn to wear in this process.
“It’s slowly killing me. I’m just so tired thinking about how we’re going to get the movie to certain places in time and posters in time for the movie to start showing. It’s a bit of a drain. I like it, it’s a good problem to have, I’m not complaining, but I’m just complaining,” he said.
Even so, Carpenter is still planning on making another moive. Not of a half-man, half moose this time, but something equally, Alaskan absurd.
Kenai Peninsula audiences can view “Moose the Movie” on the big screen. It had two screenings at Triumvirate Theatre on Saturday and is coming soon to the Regal Kambe Cinema in Kenai.