It’s Called Wolf in Dude’s Clothing
The Internet can be a weird place where anything can go viral and gain millions of views in no time flat. Former Winnipeg-Wolseley filmmaker Solmund MacPherson discovered just that with his short film Wolf in Dude’s Clothing. A breakthrough piece of sorts for him, Wolf in Dude’s Clothing has appeared in film festivals across the world. However, after noticing a small spike in views on the film’s Vimeo page, MacPherson was surprised to learn that clips of his film had amassed over 40 million views on the social media platform Tik Tok - in China especially.
“I had a bunch of views on the video from Brazil all of a sudden,” MacPherson said. “So I started searching up “Wolf in Human Clothing” in Portuguese online to find out where they had, how they found out about this film. And that kind of just led me down a rabbit hole of searching for it in different languages.”
Shot in Winnipeg, the 12 minute long film tells the story of a wolf disguised as a human slowly re-discovering its true nature. This idea of all humans having an animalistic nature to them is a theme in the film MacPherson says he’s thought a lot about. “I was sitting down at the US border and watching people go through the process of crossing,” MacPherson recalls. “It's very stressful, like if you don't have the piece of paper you need, you can get detained for that. It’s very bureaucratic, opaque, and bizarre.”
“While I was watching people go through this process, a family of deer just sort of ran through a farmer's field nearby over the border,” MacPherson said. “And I was like, what have we done to ourselves? If I did that, I would get arrested and go to prison for a while. It’s like, that is what I am: an animal. It's crazy that I have to remember all these systems and rules.”
Even though the film clips have gained a lot of views, the place where it’s actually available to watch the whole film for free hasn’t gained a lot of traffic. This is due in large part to the fact that the website that hosts Wolf in Dude’s Clothing, Vimeo, is banned in China - the place that the film clips gained the most popularity in.
After finding and compiling some of these Tik Tok clips in dozens of languages, MacPherson noticed lots of them had many comments asking for the name of the film - with nobody giving the right answer. So, he made a compilation video - and posted it on Vimeo too.
MacPherson tries to stay away from social media for the most part, and certainly didn’t make the film with this outcome in mind. “I think social media is evil,” MacPherson said. “But that's the medium, right? It's not like posting the film in its entirety would do well on Tik Tok… And so people are adapting the film for a medium to succeed. And I'm actually kind of honored by that.”
“Part of what helps is that the film is super visual,” MacPherson says about the popularity of the clips. “None of the dialogue communicates plot. It's all told through imagery. And so that's really helpful for a film being translated into a ton of different languages. I mean, I would like to think it's because people like it and because it's an original idea, but I don't know.”
However, MacPherson also has some cynical theories as to why he thinks the clips gained popularity so quickly. “I don't think it's indicative of hundreds of people having loved the movie so much,” MacPherson said. “I think it's just that hundreds of people saw that similar videos performed well, and they wanted to grow their own presence online.”
While it would be understandable if MacPherson felt hard done by, to have his film go viral without his name attached to it, he views it as a positive. “I'm really genuinely just kind of honored that so many people have even seen the footage," MacPherson said. “It would be different if somebody had posted the film in his entirety and swapped out the credits… It doesn't matter if [the viewers] know that I made it or not.”
If you are interested in watching either the film or MacPherson’s clip compilation, you can find both videos at wolfindudesclothing.com along with a list of film festivals it was chosen to screen at.
Daniel McIntyre-Ridd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leaf