The Movie Waffler Interview - THE VELOCIPASTOR Star Gregory James Cohan | The Movie Waffler

Interview - THE VELOCIPASTOR Star Gregory James Cohan

the velocipastor
Cohan discusses his role in one of the year's craziest movies.

the velocipastor poster

A man of the cloth turns Jurassic in Wild Eye Releasing’s The VelociPastor - out this month on disc and digital.

After a devastating family tragedy, a priest travels to China to find deeper spirituality, but instead is endowed with an ancient ability that allows him to turn into a dinosaur. At first, he is horrified by his newfound superpower, but a local prostitute convinces him to use his newfound gift to fight evil - and ninjas.

Gregory James Cohan, who plays the title role, spoke to us about what’s unarguably the next big cult sensation.

the velocipastor

How does one psyche themselves up to play a prehistoric preacher?

As if you need to be psyched up to play a ninja fighting, vigilante Dino-Priest! But in order to prepare, (writer/director) Brendan Steere sent me the most incredible packet called 'The Doug Bible'. It was filled with visual references, movies to watch, playlists, and more. Some of those movies included Black Dynamite, Miami Connection, Hausu and one of the weirdest movies starring none other than a young William Shatner, Incubus.

Your most serious role to date, then?

It might be, yes. I play a lot of cop, swat, FBI roles on TV, so those can get serious. The VelociPastor is already silly and fun at first glance, but the real fun was playing it as serious as possible. The biggest challenge there, however, was getting through takes without people erupting with laughter.

Where did the idea come from - how long have you been involved? The get-go?

I have not been involved since the get-go. I came to the project during its financing stage. The original idea came from an auto-corrected text sent by Brendan to one of his friends. He had typed Velociraptor, which then corrected to VelociPastor. I’m noticing now that as I type this response, my phone is so used to saying VelociPastor that it auto corrects the second I type a capital “V”.

While pursuing acting in New York, I was working with Seed&Spark, the film-centric crowdfunding and SVOD platform, when our head of crowdfunding had announced that a movie called The VelociPastor had just submitted for funding. The room erupted with laughter, and we all huddled around to see if it was real. And it was. It turned out I had worked with one of the producers and asked if they were casting. They sent me the audition sides - which I absolutely loved -  and I sent in a tape. I had a lot of fun taping that audition. Next thing I knew I was meeting Brendan Steere in Bryant Park to talk the arc of our vigilante Dino-Priest.

And was there ever a time when the movie was going to be a straight-up horror romp?

That would be a question for Brendan to answer. I know he had scrapped and rewritten the film a few times, but still kept it pretty close to the original draft, which I’m pretty sure he wrote in like a day. At the end of the day, Brendan found the fun. He loves movies so much, especially horror, so he really wanted to pay homage to some of those that he grew up on and loved so much. He also wanted to make something completely different than his first feature, Animosity. While Animosity is a totally badass, dark, suspenseful and beautifully acted film, it’s also intense. Brendan wanted to make something that he himself would love to watch over and over again. It just happened to be something that a lot of other people want to watch over and over again, and I’m grateful to be a part of that.

What other films or filmmakers influenced the tone, you think?

I know Hausu is one of Brendan’s favorite movies. He had me watch that just because he thought “every human on earth should see it.” Some others were definitely Miami Connection (a must see), Black Dynamite, a really weird '70s movie he had me watch called Equinox (1970) as well as some Dario Argento (Suspiria was one) and Giallo films.

How long of a journey has it been? When did it shoot?

We shot in May of 2016. Wow, it’s been three years. It ran through festivals for a few years and had some solid buzz, all with great reviews of the film, but it wasn’t until we partnered with Wild Eye that it had another surge and people started to notice. They did a great job releasing a new poster, setting us up at other festivals and conventions like Texas Frightmare Weekend and Comic-Con. They’ve been a great partner.

Why do you think there’s been a real surge of films that successfully combine comedy and horror – flicks like Wolf Cop, Sharknado, and now The VelociPastor?

Great question! I think people just want to laugh! I think it boils down to escapism. We live in trying times, and it’s not to say that we shouldn’t pay attention to what’s going on in the world and be active participants in change or make art that says something about the world we live in, but sometimes people just want to sit down for 75-90 minutes and enjoy watching a shitty cop turn into a Werewolf and kick some ass, or a troubled priest turn into a dinosaur and fight ninjas. I just recently watched Wolf Cop and I’m a big fan. That movie kicks ass.

Is there a particular moment in the film you really, really enjoyed shooting?

Many. Any of my scenes with Alyssa Kempinski were just a blast. We met in rehearsal and got to do some improv together. While we mainly stuck to the script, one of the funniest lines in the film were something we came up with in an improv rehearsal. Naturally, any of the fight scenes, because I got to play an action star, and it was awesome. But my hands down favourite was the first “change” moments. Running through the woods, turning into a dinosaur… it was like my Thriller moment. I loved that music video growing up. I remember Brendan yelling, “Now look up at the moon and roar.” And while I gave my best dino-roar, I couldn’t help but think, “This is f-ing awesome.” 

Any talk of a sequel yet?

Oh hell yes.

The VelociPastor is on DVD/VOD August 13th with a blu-ray release September 17th.