Filmmaker Bryan Michael Stoller talks ‘Wizard of Paws’ production

Writer/director Bryan Michael Stoller recently spoke with “Breakthrough Entertainment” about the new family film that he will begin shooting this weekend in the Valley titled “The Wizard of Paws.”

Stoller is seeking extras to appear on-camera during a scene that he describes as being “similar to auditions for ‘America’s Got Talent’ and ‘American Idol.’” The scene will be shot 8:30-11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 4 at the Hilton Phoenix Suites, 10 E. Thomas Road.

Question: First of all, what is “The Wizard of Paws?”

Answer: “The Wizard of Paws” is a magical family feature film about a young boy who inherits a magical dog from an ancient wizard. As it turns out, the dog can actually talk. The boy has always wanted to be a magician and he ends up finding this book that was once owned by the wizard. Once he opens the book, he ends up getting these powers and he and the dog go on these magical adventures.

Q: So then describe the scene that you will be shooting this weekend. Can you set the stage, so to speak?

A: The boy finds out about a million-dollar talent show and he wants to win the million dollars to save his house from foreclosure. That is what we are going to be shooting this weekend and we are looking for people to come downtown to be in the movie. We need a lot of people on camera. We can pretty much get everybody on camera and they will be seen in the movie.

Q: What should they wear? Can they come in costume?

A: They can come in anything from ballerina outfits to karate outfits. We are looking for acrobats, jugglers and musicians. Bring your guitar. Bring your bongo drums. Bring anything that is interesting. Come as a clown. Come in any homemade outfit; no logos, commercial brand names or anything like that.

Q: So does one need to have a particular talent to come out and be an extra? And will there be opportunities to perhaps get an acting credit in the film?

A: They do not need to have a particular talent. But if they do have a talent, we may actually call them back to perform, as well. They can also be performing the lobby or even just pretending that they have a certain talent. We just want some fun faces. Now, we do have other scenes after Sunday because we are going to be filming for a couple of weeks. So, for anybody who comes down on Sunday, we are also going to pick people to be in a movie theater scene that we will be filming the next day. And we will need extras throughout the film. So anybody who comes out on Sunday has a chance to not only be in that scene but also in some other scenes, as well.

Q: Other filmmakers have criticized Phoenix for not exactly having the greatest tax incentives for movie productions. So what draws you to the city?

A: I think that the biggest thing that draws me to the city is the people. Everybody is so friendly here. When we are scouting locations, we walk in and people are so excited to be a part of the movie. They offer their location and themselves to be in the movie whereas in Hollywood everybody is just a little bit jaded. You walk in and they want a lot of money to shoot there because they are so is used to studios coming in all of the time. It is much more unique for a professional film to come to this town. Plus, we are kind of rebels and it is nice to get away from the hustle and bustle Hollywood.

Q: Finally, when can audiences expect to see “The Wizard of Paws” in theaters?

A: We should be finished filming by the end of August and there could be another 4 to 6 months of post-production. I do not think that it will be ready in time for Christmas but maybe shortly after that if we are lucky.

Joseph J. Airdo

Joseph J. Airdo is a film critic, producer and on-air personality for Breakthrough Entertainment, a talk radio show airing 10-11 a.m. Saturdays on KPHX 1480 AM and that shines a spotlight on the practical perspectives of the topics and themes explored in movies. He has a pet duck named Frozen who is as opinionated about movies as he is. E-mail him at

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