Arts and Culture, Astoria, Event, Free, Movies, Sponsored
May 16, 2019

Astoria Filmmaker’s Sci-Fi ’90s Adventure “Wish Weasel” is His New Lease on Life

A magical weasel crash lands in Queens and befriends a girl who’s down on her luck, granting her a wish for a new apartment. When evil General Zorgo gets wind, he (…)

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A magical weasel crash lands in Queens and befriends a girl who’s down on her luck, granting her a wish for a new apartment. When evil General Zorgo gets wind, he declares he’ll travel to Earth to torture everyone with evil wishes—so Wish Weasel, Space Detective and Tabitha must work together to SAVE Queens (and the planet)!

If that plot line sounds like some zany crossover between the Muppets, SNICK on Nickelodeon and Saturday Morning Cartoons—you wouldn’t be wrong. Those are all elements that inspired local filmmaker Dan McNamara’s Astoria film debut, “Wish Weasel.” Wish Weasel has everything you didn’t know you needed: puppets, over 140 visual effects shots, comedians and a giant monster battle in the East River in front of Astoria Park.

The real life inspiration behind the film wasn’t quite the stuff of fantasy, however. McNamara’s now-fiancé—and star of the film, Tabitha—had been having severe roommate struggles back in 2017. While they were talking on the phone one night, she thought she heard a mouse and Dan said, “maybe it’s a weasel…a wish weasel and he’ll grant you one wish like a new apartment.” Then Tabitha joked, “Yeah but he’ll ask for a broker’s fee afterwards.”

“And then we both laughed a lot about the image of this magic weasel being a terrible genie,” McNamara said. “These are the kinds of conversations we have all the time because we’re silly idiots.”

At the time, McNamara was recovering from a liver transplant from his cousin Rich, due to a rare autoimmune disease he had been living with that eventually destroys the liver. He had been incredibly fatigued from the disease for eight years, and hadn’t been able to produce any of his own projects.

“I had all this energy again. I felt like myself for the first time in eight years,” he said after the surgery. “So Wish Weasel is the first project I’ve made in years and it’s filled with hope, positivity, and so much silliness…I’ve been given a second chance on life and I’m going to celebrate it and create things and not take any of it for granted.”

McNamara and the “Wish Weasel.” Credit to Mindy Tucker.

Wish Weasel really started to take shape when McNamara saw the Jim Henson Exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image, along with the fact that he and Tabitha had been sharing Instagram accounts that featured wacky 1980s and ’90s obscure TV clips with cheap visual effects—very campy, and hilarious.

It turned into a total community project in 2018—with Astoria neighbors helping to shoot it with Rebel Lens Films at green screen studios, apartments, Astoria Park, and Steinway Street, all of it in Astoria.

McNamara first got into film when he was 12 years old and started creating his own computer animations and videos with Rich and other friends. This film is a bit of a love letter to his childhood self.

“I’ve been doing visual effects, editing, and creating my own web series professionally for 15 years now,” he said, “And I asked the question: ‘What if I was 12 with the skills I had today? What would that look like?’ I think it looks like Wish Weasel.”

Still from “Wish Weasel.”

Where to See The Film

Rapid Fire Q&A

Favorite Astoria place for dinner?

I live near Little Egypt and I LOVE Duzan! The best shawarma ever in the world! SO GOOD. I also love The Arepas Cafe for brunch—they have the best brunch.

Where in Astoria do you feel the most inspired to create?

Museum of the Moving Image is an inspiration. The Noguchi Museum is an amazing place and so is Astoria Park. We’re lucky to have a park like that in the neighborhood.

What would you wish from the Wish Weasel?

Universal healthcare but he’d find some way to mess it up so I’m not sure I would wish anything from him!

 

This post is sponsored by Wish Weasel. Thanks for supporting the brands that support We Heart Astoria.

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