Have you ever looked into a tar pit and thought that there might be something evil lurking within its black depths? Well, Aaron Wolf clearly did, as his new film TAR has that exact premise and even features an appearance from Oscar nominee Graham Greene.
It’s now in post-production, so we decided to catch up with him to learn more about what lies buried under the sticky oil.
DC: What stage of production are you in?
Aaron Wolf: We are in the final stages of post-production on the film. It is amazing to be at this stage. It has been a year since we started production on TAR, and having a glimmer of an idea and seeing that idea become a reality is truly magical. Or in this case, terrifying. As a kid, I was always fascinated by the world-famous La Brea Tar Pits. It’s such a strange thing to have in the middle of a giant city like Los Angeles. Creepy. Weird. Peculiar. So now, to have made a crazy thriller about the lore of the Tar Pits, and being in the final stages where soon we will let the world see it, is something of which I’m very proud. I can’t wait.
DC: Who do you play in the film?
AW: I play Zach Greenwood, the son of Barry Greenwood, played by Oscar-nominated actor Timothy Bottoms. Barry’s immigrant father started his own small business in Los Angeles, a typewriter repair shop, years earlier. With the city’s subway expanding under their feet and their office building slated for demolition, Barry, Zach, and their employees are forced to shut down the shop and move out by 6AM the next morning. But when something terrifying is awoken by the underground construction, a somber night of packing becomes a fight for survival.
It’s always an honor to get to work with actors that I watched as a child. I’ve had the fortune of having this honor numerous times, and each time I’m always in a bit of awe. I constantly learn from masters of their craft like Tim. It makes my job easy because they are so damn good. I mean, “Paper Chase,” The Last Picture Show. These are classics. He showed me a movie he did with Henry Fonda called Roller Coaster. If you haven’t seen it, check out the trailer. It’s awesome and pretty nutty.
DC: So in the world of TAR, a long forgotten wetland of long forgotten creatures existed in what was once LA?
AW: Yes. Los Angeles had even more expansive tar pits during the prehistoric era. Later, Native Americans would use tar from the pits to fashion huts, canoes, and tools. Though many animals met their demise in the pits, one type of prehistoric creature, the so-called “Matchi Manitu,” didn’t go extinct. It lives within the depths of the pit. And Native Americans from the region’s tribes know this. One, played by Oscar-nominee Graham Greene, still tells stories of the creature on the streets of LA. Yet, nobody listens. But they should. As he says, you better watch where you step.
DC: Can you talk about the main creature of the movie? What kind of design did you go for?
AW: I don’t want to give away too much about the creature because, well, its always nice to be surprised. But I will say this… We had the unique honor of having an awesome award-winning makeup artist and creature specialist from Japan help craft the look of the tar creature. I like the idea of things feeling as real as possible, and I’m tired of everything being digital effects. I LOVE practical effects. Practical make-up. Real creatures. Like at Disneyland. I’m a huge fan of animatronics vs. the use of 3D projection screens. And who knows, maybe the Creature of the Tar does exist…
DC: Does the family dynamic in the film serve as a kind of metaphor for the creature’s murderous rampage?
AW: Well, in TAR 2, you will learn more answers to that exact question. Yes. A sequel is already in the works. And there is a metaphor of family in this film and the next. Both on the human side and the creature side. Everyone tries to protect their home. Whether you are human or you “ooooze” tar, we are all creatures protecting our homes. And we are all struggling with the ups and downs of day-to-day life as well as our family dynamics. And that is definitely the case with Barry and Zach Greenwood.
I can’t wait to chat with you guys more. It’s going to be a fun ride with TAR, and there is also a graphic novel coming which is going to expand the lore and universe even farther. Until then, don’t get stuck. Cheers.