When did you first come up with the idea for Buffalo Bushido?
It was a knee-jerk reaction to having a project in Northern Ireland hit a standstill in 2005. I had applied for funding through NIFTC – it was a co-production, but with the dollar sinking below the euro it didn’t make fiscal sense. I started to look at Buffalo as the canvas for creating a Buffalo story that would pump as much spirit and vitality into the community as I had witnessed in New Orleans with my first film (In). So I proceeded to write a Buffalo story based on reflections from childhood that seemed worthy… I found reverence in the loss of my best friend David Pfalzgraf’s brother Brendan… and how to honor him through narrative fiction.
Who, or what, is Buffalo Bushido?
Bushido is the code or way of the samurai. It serves as a coping strategy for the main character Davis, who is trying to come home. His perception is the lens of the story, as past, present and fantasy overlap.
Did the storyline change as the pieces began to fall together?
The storyline never wavered, but new Bushido underpinnings availed themselves through the collaborative process. This included the fantastic animation provided by Jeremy Appelbaum.
Was it shot in Buffalo, and if so, when?
It was 100% filmed in Buffalo. We filmed through 2006 and 2007.
Is it true that in one scene you walk across the outer edge of the Peace Bridge naked?
No. It was the middle traffic lane and up on the steel truss.
How did you pull that one off?
Unfortunately the wonderful man who made it possible is no longer with us.
Where did you find Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka?
On the WWE Legends Circuit.
And Lezley Zen? What kind of a movie is this?!
I needed a bad influence who was very comfortable with nudity. It was the first day of the shoot and it was the icebreaker. She’s a really good actress… she’s fun, she’s crazy and she knows how to act. Lezley played the bad influence to a T. People go nuts for her… I damn well was not going to be the only naked character in this film. She was there for the first day as well as the last day of the shoot. She came back for the wrap party and played naked pool at Roxy’s. She stripped naked right on Main Street and walked into the bar. She proceeded to play pool naked for two hours.
Click here to see the entire cast
What was the most important thing that you learned coming from your previous movie?
To not rush. My first film was turned around in six months. I cultivated a strategy to allow time to pull back and rethink. The fact that this was a state of mind film facilitated this creative, layered approach.
Name a director that influenced you.
Elia Kazan, and of course Akira Kurosawa.
What’s your favorite movie?
If you could pick an actor and actress to be in your ultimate movie, who would they be?
I’m trying to think of someone who hasn’t had plastic surgery. The legends are dead. Where are the American male leads? There is a void… Christopher Walken back in the day, but not when he’s dancing with a Gummy Bear. And then Penelope Cruz, but she’ll have to pass the no-plastic-surgery-test like Lezley 😉
Do you consider yourself a full time producer/director?
No. Because I write, direct, produce and act, I am finding that Hollywood places me in the ubiquitous Indie film-maker/artist file. What matters is that I do what I say I’m going to do. My scripts get read based on confidence that I deliver with heart and soul. I’ve built my reputation in the business one relationship at a time. Nick Nolte is reading the script for my current movie called Queen City. I push my filmmaking forward every day in some capacity, balancing it with my responsibility as husband, parent, youth hockey coach and other business owner.
Is it unusual for a producer/ director to take a lead in a movie?
Yes. And it’s usually disastrous.
How was (or is it) it to shoot in Buffalo?
It’s fascinating to redefine the city through my filmmaking. When you see Buffalo Bushido, local landmarks will take on new meaning (not just the Peace Bridge). Living in a place gives you enormous insight into making it come alive as a character. I did that with New Orleans (where my mom is from) in my first film, and have now accomplished it here through photography, music, etc. There’s nothing worse than hearing a dumbed-down, rehashed Buffalo joke from some Hollywood nincompoop who has never been here or claims to have been stuck on the thruway during a snowstorm. Boohoo! I think that folks will dig the symbolism from start to finish. Buffalo Bushido is really a ‘coming home’ piece where home never changes… it’s the person.
Is our proximity to Toronto advantageous?
Big time. I used Deluxe Toronto for post-production and have gone to Raptor and Sabres games with their staff. It gives the region (with the Toronto Film Festival) clout.
Did you work with the Buffalo Film Commission?
Yes. Tim Clark has been super in supporting, coordinating and production. He understands that it is the indigenous productions that define the city’s film identity and open the floodgates for future work. Buffalo Bushido shot for 27 days with all local crew vs. Keanu Reeves who was here for three and brought his crew from NYC.
Buffalo Bushido World Premiere and Red Carpet
Friday, April 30 at 8:00pm to 11:00pm
Where: Market Arcade Film & Arts Centre
639 Main St. Buffalo, NY
Advanced tickets available online through the Dipson website. Peter will be there throughout the weekend answering Q&As and talking about Queen City, which is filming now.