Men With Beards: Q & A with documentary co-creator Dylan Fries

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Electric Monk Media (EMM) is a Winnipeg-based media production firm. The Manitoban had a chance to interview EMM interactive media director and generally beardy fellow, Dylan Fries, about the Men With Beards documentary set to hit screens in the near future.

The Manitoban: Tell me about the Men With Beards documentary.

Dylan Fries: The documentary actually predates the company by several years, and originally came out of a trip to Anchorage, [Alaska] to attend the 2009 World Beard and Moustache Championships (WBMC). Myself and Michael Sanders [EMM director of film and screen] started filming interviews after that and then spent several years editing to arrive at the film we have today. [ . . . ] I think the core ideas came from the trip to the WBMC in AK and just through the process of growing out my moustache, but myself and Mike talked about it extensively between each interview, further refining the ideas until we had a pretty good idea of what we were after.

M: What, then, is the premise of Men With Beards?

DF: It’s a very simple concept taken to its logical conclusion. We just started asking guys about their beards and the stories that emerged were so engaging and interesting that we had to do something with them. We cover all sorts of topics, from introductory beard-grooming tips to deeper cultural meaning and significance. It’s a very dense movie; you’ll just have to see it!

M: Where was the documentary filmed?

DF: It was shot in Winnipeg and in Ontario, where we went to interview some notable characters, including the head of Beard Team Canada, Darrell Crawford, and Dr. Allan Peterkin, a world-renowned expert on beards.

M: What was the filming process like – from pre-production to final edits?

DF: The short version is we knew we had a film, or the potential of a film, within a few interviews, but the way we were editing it was so intricate that it took us several years and probably nearly 50 full iterations to actually put it together in a way that flowed smoothly, was cohesive, and captured the overall effect we were after.

M: Do you have any expectations as to how this film might fare with audiences?

DF: We did a limited number of private screenings to a test audience of friends, family, people close to the film, some industry people, and a few random friends that got brought along, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I think we were surprised at the wide array of people who enjoyed it. We expected guys with beards to enjoy it but we’ve really found that nearly everyone really enjoyed it and often have come to us telling us how they related to the characters personally, so that’s been really exciting to hear.

M: What was the weirdest beard you encountered during the filming?

DF: Every beard is unique and has its own strengths and flaws. None of them stand out as being particularly weird, although there was definitely some crazy shit up in AK with guys styling them into all sorts of strange and interesting shapes.

M: You’re currently in the process of trying to raise money through crowdfunding platforms – is that right?

DF: The film is completed, but we’re trying to raise money to pay off our clearances. We’re trying to raise $28,000 currently, with about $20,000 of that going to clearances, such as music and B-Roll footage, festival submission and insurance fees. The other $8,000 goes to fulfilling the perks we promised (such as printing DVDs), shipping and processing fees. You can read an extensive breakdown of this at our Indiegogo site.

We’re committed to getting this film out and will do it regardless. It would be nice to be able to pay the people who have donated time and services, though.