Interview with Uwe Schwarzwalder About The Radicalization of Jeff Boyd
By: Darida Rose
Darida Rose, Phoenix Journal (PJ): At the beginning, a title card says that this is possibly a true story. Could you elaborate?
Uwe Schwarzwalder (US): This is playing around a little, and partly inspired by Fargo with their title, and partly by using titles as The Situation or Epilogue like in my film, characterising and wrap it as a written novel. But I mean it, and I really believe that this could happen as sometimes, in my real life, I also came up with crazy ideas, so, who knows, somebody else somewhere could pull off something like this. I have to say I never crossed the line in my life, just to avoid any misunderstandings and not that I get into troubles :)
(PJ): One of the remarkable things about this film is how good it looks despite a very low budget. Do you have any tips for new filmmakers who might want to follow in your footsteps with an ultra low budget feature?
(US): Of course: Be ready to invest a lot of time as this is a very long process. Watch and digest as many tutorials as you can get free from the internet - be curious. If you have an idea you would like to implement, search as long as you find a solution - you’ll find it. The same applies also to equipment. My camera cost only 500!
(PJ): You wrote, directed, starred, and I believe also edited the film. Could you speak about the filmmaking process? How long did it take?
(US): I attended many acting workshops, so I thought why not doing a film and apply what I’ve learned. I started writing the screenplay within a few weeks, placed an ad to find the actors and crew while assembling the equimpment, and then shot the core scenes within about 3 weeks, and the rest during a year, pickup scenes and B-roll, while starting with the editing. The editing process took me about one and a half year, together with 3 music composers, until I started submitting the finished film to the festivals.
(PJ): The character Wendy seems to have a genuine desire to help the people, while Jeff seems motivated by personal anger and at times a desire to get rich. Were you trying to make a statement about radicalization here? Could you discuss the dynamic between the two?
(US): That’s right, Wendy is a young idealistic woman who truly wants to move and change something. Jeff sees that and feels drawn to her, especially after his disappointments and setbacks. To channel his anger, he teams up with her and uses the energy to move something, together with her, in a positive way. But the deeper objectives within the two collide, and especially the ambiguous motivations of Jeff challenges Wendy to her limits.
(PJ): Are you planning on doing more directing? Do you have any projects in the works at the moment?
(US): Yes, I love it as much I do acting. I wrote a pseudo-sequel, The Spiritualization of Jeff Boyd. Jeff finds his way to Australia from where he travels to a Monk in Bulgaria and then to India, together with a guru’s daughter. It won already a few awards, and I’m pitching it to find producers and investors.
(PJ): What inspired you to make this film?
(US): A few things: the ongoing exploitation of natural resources in poor countries, the whole whistleblower theme, the financial crisis, and of course the art, the passion for drama films.
(PJ): Did directing yourself have an impact on your acting? Did you have any insights into your own acting through being the director?
(US): I was asked this a lot if I would have been more focused if I had only one task to do. I must say I was as focused as I can get. And when I heard Orson Welles say, that it did not compromise his performances having two hats on in his films, I was a little relieved. I feel somehow the same. I felt if my acting was good for the film or not. And as a director, I could say let’s do it one more time.
(PJ): Could you tell us a bit about the title? How did you come up with it? Was it perhaps a bit tongue in cheek?
(US): Oh, this was a little difficult. I wanted it to be different, but also catchy. And when I asked around for ideas and feedback, I got so many, that I became confused. Until Julian Booth from Wales, who played Morton, send me a few proposals. And when I read The Radicalization of Jeff Boyd - I knew that this is it, also because of what you felt in your question: it has a bit tongue in cheek, yes.