'Fubar' director Michael Dowse dives into TV with black comedy, 'The Foundation'

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TORONTO - The headbanging heroes of the mockumentary "Fubar" are bound for the Alberta oilsands in a sequel set to begin filming next month, says its Canadian director.

But revisiting the metalheads - who rocketed Michael Dowse to cult acclaim - will be squeezed in among a slew of other projects the prolific filmmaker has on the go, including a Showcase series about a corrupt charity, a hockey comedy co-written and starring "Knocked Up"'s Jay Baruchel, and a $23-million romantic comedy backed by Ron Howard.

While many in the industry are being squeezed by the downturn, Dowse says he's busier than ever thanks to the slowburn success of 2002's "Fubar" and his 2004 followup, "It's All Gone Pete Tong."

Both were film festival hits that went on to earn wider critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase.

"Tong" in particular caught Hollywood's eye and led to an invitation to meet with Howard's Imagine Entertainment in 2006. Within three months, Dowse says he was polishing a script and preparing to direct a film staring Topher Grace and Anna Farris, called "Young Americans."

"It was kind of a rush, you know, it happened really quickly which is the nice thing about working at Imagine," Dowse says during a recent stop in Toronto before heading west to work on "Fubar"'s sequel.

"They're very director-friendly and they have a lot of pull so if they want to make a film they can usually get it off the ground and running. It was surreal, it was great, here I am with the reins to a $23-million film, it's amazing."

The coming-of-age film was shot in 2007 and a release is planned for early 2010.

In the new year, Dowse plans to start shooting "Goon" in Montreal. Written by Baruchel and "Pineapple Express" writer Evan Goldberg, the film is about a bouncer that joins a semi-pro hockey league.

"Nobody's made a good hockey movie in years, in my opinion," says Dowse.

"There's been a few here and there - like 'The Rocket' was good - but not a comedy, so we're just trying to make this balls-out, hyper-violent hockey comedy. It should be awesome, it's kind of like 'Raging Bull' for hockey, but a comedy."

Baruchel will play the bruiser's best friend and Dowse hopes to begin filming in the spring.

This winter, he's busy with the Fubar sequel, a Christmas movie tentatively titled "The Wrath of Tron." This time around, Terry and Dean head to Fort McMurray, Alta., to make money. As in "Fubar," Dowse says the dialogue will be improvised.

"We don't work off a script, we work off a treatment, so we don't write any dialogue and we just shoot and shoot and shoot. It's a great way to work because so many times the infrastructure of filmmaking gets in the way of the comedy," says Dowse, adding that the budget is "a lot more" than the first "Fubar."

"With this film, we want to keep intact how we made the first one, which was just run-a-gun, not really planned out in terms of how we're going to approach things ... but we want to increase the production value and do stunts and make the thing feel bigger."

Amid all this, Dowse makes his first foray into television with the five-part Showcase series, "The Foundation," a black comedy about a corrupt charity foundation.

Mike Wilmot plays the shamelessly self-serving Michael Valmont-Selkirk, whose charity embarks on a large kick-back scam involving an African desalination plant.

"When we came up with the show it was right at the height of the UN food-for-oil scam and Kofi Annan to us was one of the last grown-ups," Dowse explains.

"As a kid when you look up to an older person, you think, 'Oh, this person is responsible, this person gets up at seven in the morning, pays his taxes and does his thing.' But as you get older you realize those people don't exist. For me the oil-for-food scandal was like, 'Oh my God, Kofi Annan's in on it, this is horrible now because everybody's in on it."'

With each episode structured around a fundraising scheme, the series is able to play up the stark disconnect between some charity events and the cause they're meant to support, says Dowse, pointing to splashy gala balls that draw black-tie crowds.

"What's the flipside of that? What's that AIDS victim doing while these rich people strut around getting loaded till five in the morning writing cheques to you? And what does that money go to?" he says.

"I think there's a real disdain for people who are on the make and that's what these characters are."

Organizations: UN

Geographic location: TORONTO, Alberta, Hollywood Montreal Fort McMurray

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