Machine guns and werewolves are two ingredients you may not expect coming from a film about former President Franklin D. Roosevelt. “FDR American Badass” plays at the Phoenix Film Festival on Wednesday and aims to “bring hope back to America,” according to director Garrett Brawith. Although the subject matter may be offensive at times, Brawith believes that it works in the film’s favor.
“We just went with it,” Brawith said. “We went over the top, and at the same time, it felt like it just hung out at the top. The movie itself was already so over-the-top that the actors did it just to try and play it seriously. Every character is bad just because they’re bad.”
“FDR American Badass” offers a comedic and not entirely accurate look at the life of Roosevelt, who is portrayed by Golden Globe winner Barry Bostwick. The film is very much in the style of the classic “Batman” television series with humor in the same vein as the 1980 movie “Airplane!”
Brawith was originally a theater actor for many years in Hawaii, but later moved to Los Angeles where he learned the ropes of directing, producing and being a cameraman. He soon began performing in commercials along with popular television shows such as “Dexter,” “General Hospital” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
“After awhile, I realized on set there were times when I would know more than the director who I was working with,” Brawith said. “I just decided, ‘You know what? It’s time to just go make my own material.’”
He got together with screenwriter Ross Paterson and the two began writing scripts together. Their film “Darnell Dawkins: Mouth Guitar Legend” will be released soon, while “Poolboy: Drowning Out The Fury” received the opportunity to play at the Cannes Film Festival in France last year.
“It’s kind of a big deal to you as a filmmaker because you’re going somewhere else with it,” Brawith said. “You’re in a room with a guy from France, a guy from Spain, some comedian guy in the back who won’t stop laughing — that’s what it’s all about.”
Brawith believes that Phoenix audiences will enjoy “FDR American Badass,” which has already garnered its own cult following and special shout-outs during screenings of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” He hopes to continue making projects that push the envelope and never plans to shy away from controversy.
“I love a controversial project, otherwise what’s the point?” Brawith said. “I feel like if you really want to stand out, you need to do something different. The more different it can be and the more insane it can be, the more people will actually be entertained. They’re seeing something different.”
As for his personal favorite moment in the film?
“When Abraham Lincoln visits FDR — I’m not going to get too much into it, but I will say that Abraham Lincoln likes to party,” Brawith said. “He’s the original badass.”
“FDR American Badass” plays at 9:20 p.m. on April 4 at the Harkins Scottsdale 101, 7000 E. Mayo Blvd. in Phoenix.
To find out more information or purchase tickets, visit www.phoenixfilmfestival.com.
Patrick Ryan is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. He is a sophomore at Arizona State University.