Uwe Boll! With the mere mention of his name, I’m sure a few of you are already getting ready to post negative feedback. He is the man behind such films as HOUSE OF THE DEAD, BLOODRAYNE and BLOODRAYNE 2: DELIVERANCE and his latest POSTAL. Most of his films are based on video games. And since his films are not well received, he seems to have a few people in an uproar wanting him to retire. How many of you have signed the petition? I didn’t. And I won’t. I would sign the infamous “Pro-Boll” petition though. The way I see it, nobody should be told that they can’t make films. Nobody. I would say that I won’t see a movie that I don’t want to, but because I’m a critic, I do see an awful lot of movies which I normally wouldn’t.
But what about POSTAL? First off, this is not an unintentional comedy… it is purely intentional, and honestly, it’s funny as hell. It is offensive yet it offers up a wonderful sense of fun. I had a blast watching it. Zack Ward is terrific as the man driven to carry on his own violent mission with a cult on one side and the Taliban on the other. There is something here that is reminiscent of films like AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON or KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE. The script is written by Boll and the dialogue has been “Americanized” by Bryan C. Knight, and it offers up some ridiculously bizarre elements that have long since been missing in the politically correct nature of Hollywood. If you like outrageous, you should definitely give it a try.
Now before I saw the film, I got the chance to talk to Uwe Boll himself. I found him to be much different than the crazy German director challenging Michael Bay to boxing matches. This is a smart, charming and extremely likable person. He is kind, he is honest, and he seems to deal quite well with the negative and sometimes mean-spirited attacks he has had on himself and his films. We talked openly about his career, and of course the controversy surrounding his recent attempts to spread POSTAL on a movie going audience. I even asked about the petition to have him retire and his comments about Bay and Eli Roth.
As for POSTAL, it is opening on May 23rd,at a theatre... sadly, not very likely at a theatre near you. But if it happens to be in your area, go check out INDY and maybe make a little extra time and go Postal.
So I just watched a couple of clips from POSTAL and I gotta tell ya man, this thing looks like a totally different animal than what we are used to seeing from you?
Yeah, and it’s a comedy right, so the other movies were more like horror movies or whatever… action. And POSTAL is definitely… even if it is a video game based movie, it is a totally different genre.
Now with the film and the opening sequence especially, did you go in with the intention that I want to make a controversial movie? Because that scene alone will definitely piss people off. Or was it just something that you thought, you know what, this hasn’t been explored, let’s see what I can do with it?
No, the reality is that I wrote, very frustrated, that script, and the SEED script parallel basically. And I think I put in POSTAL everything that was like, in politics, pissing me off. But I combined it with an original post story about the guy in a trailer park, he has no job, he’s basically f*cked. And his wife was like, good-looking five years ago, and now she’s five-hundred pounds [Laughing]. So it’s basically, I did like a loser story, a little like what box office performance of my movie is [Laughing], in America. And yeah, I wrote everything down, even if it’s very offensive. What was like, annoying and bad in politics. So this was the set up for the POSTAL movie, and then after I finished the script, all the people around me were like, maybe pressuring me, do you really want to shoot that because this is not only totally different from what you did before, it will not get a lot of support [Laughing] from the exhibitors or from the studios.
And getting support from people… that’s totally what you do Uwe [Laughing]. I was even reading more about this petition that someone started to stop you from making movies. How did you feel when you found out about that?
You know, the petition is two and a half years old, it’s not really new, but it was like ten thousand, fifteen thousand votes on the petition. And then I think two weeks ago, or three weeks ago, in an interview, the guy asked me if I would stop if there were like a million people signing it. And I said, well yeah, then I definitely would consider it, because this would be like an overwhelming amount of people. And this thing, I think was like a wave, it went everywhere. And then people started like posting non-stop. And basically, in a way, I get everyday e-mails, like hate e-mails but I get everyday also support e-mails. I would say like the average, if like two positive e-mails per day and two or three negative e-mails per day. And so I said, this was the whole point, I said, ‘why not a Pro-Boll petition?’ and I think there are now like seven or eight Pro-Boll petitions out.
Yeah, it would be better if there were only one Pro-Boll petition, because then there would be more votes. And I think now on all seven Pro-Boll petitions so far, is between like five-hundred and five-thousand votes. Would be better if we had one with twenty five thousand votes already [Laughing].
With POSTAL, what fascinates me is, here we have it coming out soon, and I am hearing a lot of really good stuff about it. And that is coming from people who didn’t like your earlier films or even hated your earlier films. Are you surprised that people are kind of throwing a little support your way now?
Yeah, let’s say I’m happy about it, that people will give me a chance. And there are still people out there that whatever I do they will never give it a chance. But I think a lot of people, they trashed my other movies and didn’t like my other movies, but they actually like POSTAL. And this is like, real newspaper reviewers and also journalist writing for websites and everything. And I think this is the only thing that I’m asking for is basically, look at the new Boll movie not like, oh look at the new Boll movie, it must be horrible. But give it a fair chance. Like, see it in the competition with the other movies out there and compare it to the other movies coming up every weekend. I think in the last few years, my advantage was that I had the chance to shoot so many movies and I think I got really better. And I think a lot of the films the critics… in a way… and I think IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE is already visible, that this is a better movie than ALONE IN THE DARK or HOUSE OF THE DEAD was.
And POSTAL is another dimension already. Because I think a lot of stuff in it was something that was a little lost in the last few movies. After HEART OF AMERICA, that movie I did about school violence, I basically stopped making movies with any realistic or politic background. And I think with POSTAL and with SEIGE, in a way, I came back to that. And its helped me going back to the situation where I started with. All my movies I basically wrote. And then HOUSE OF THE DEAD was the first movie where I was not involve in anything in the script writing or development of the film. And at this point, my movies starting to make more money but reviews got really bad. So there is the thing, like I’m not against my movies, I would always defend HOUSE OF THE DEAD, I would always defend ALONE IN THE DARK, but the really bad reviews all started with HOUSE OF THE DEAD. And before that it was more like, people didn’t even recognize me, or they gave it like, whatever, they got decent reviews, like BLACKWOOD.
Well, it is true, when your name comes up, people either love you or they hate you. But honestly even though I‘ve had problems with a few of your films, I kind of had fun with BLOODRAYNE 2 and I think your films are getting better.
Thank you. You know, for me BLOODRAYNE 2 was an opportunity to keep the BLOODRAYNE franchise going but do something different. Like a totally different movie vampire, like doing it as an homage also to the Sergio Leone western with the music and the way we shot it. And it was fun to do it, even if it was the worst shoot I ever had with the weird accident and the railway station burnt down. And shooting only nighttime in winter in Canada is not really nice [Laughing]. But I think that it was a fresh start for a BLOODRAYNE movie and I think it’s totally different than the first part. And from this point of view, I think it works.
Well, the funny thing is, I interviewed a couple of actresses from that doing red carpet and what have you, and it seems that the actors that work with you, love you.
Tell me the names.
One was Natassia Malthe and the other that I can think of right away was Lorielle New…
Yeah, but she was in POSTAL.
Yeah, that’s right. She talked about POSTAL and really seemed to love working with you. And that’s the thing, you get some pretty decent actors doing your films, no matter what people say about you.
Yeah, and this was… for IN THE NAME OF THE KING, Ron Perlman told me, ‘I think I know why you…’ whatever, why actors like you, ‘because you don’t start, like, acting.’ [Laughing] and I said, what does that mean. And he said, like a lot of directors, they play that scene and then they show the actor how to do it and based on my language problems, lets say it this way, I’m from Germany… I could never do this. So I would never stand in front of the actor and say his part. Or say his lines, or something. So I think that the actors really hate a lot of directors who think they can act better then actors [Laughing]. How absurd it is. But I also think one of the reasons is, I give all of the actors, like, a choice to do every shot… basically, one way their way.
So I always give… if an actor wants to play a scene a little different as I planned it, or whatever, I always make it work for him that he can do his version, even if we have to change the light, or the camera movement and everything. And I think they appreciate that. And also, a lot of times the actors have a better feeling how it could work in that moment. And I think there are many more ideas than a director can do. This sounds normal what I say now, but if you make the movie with a lot of special effects, with green screens and CGI, then it’s different. If you go on the set, like X-MEN or FANTASTIC FOUR, there’s not a lot of flexibility for the actors because it is all in tune to the special effects. And in my movies, like IN THE NAME OF THE KING or ALONE IN THE DARK, where there are special effects also, but I always try to change that, so the special effects, for me, they are secondary.
Do you ever think that giving actors that much freedom, hurts the product in a way?
Ah, it can hurt. Let’s say, if you don’t agree with the actor and then you say, okay, now we do it this way, and [the actor] makes it bad on purpose. Then it’s a disaster, you know. So if an actor likes only his version and he sucks in the other version, then you have a real problem. But if you have, lets say, an actor who appreciated that you give him the freedom to do it, and then he gives everything also in the other version, then I think it is very positive working relationship.
Now doing interviews and facing so many of your harshest critics, do you ever feel going into an interview or what have you, that you are almost preparing for battle?
Yeah… what I feel… I give you, for example, I did a POSTAL press screening in Chicago last week. And there were like some [journalists]… and I stayed the next day, I was scheduled to stay in Chicago for interviews. And nobody wants to interview me. They all cancelled it. Because there were like eight journalists in this thing. One actually liked it, said he has no time to interview me. But the other guys, I think they were so offended by the movie that they didn’t even want to talk to me about it.
Good job man [Laughing].
[Laughing] But I was very disappointed. Because as a film critic, you should always try and look behind the curtain.
Yeah. I agree
You should always look behind the motivation behind something. And I think this… for me, the point is not to get a bad review for a movie or whatever, or that they were offended. What I wanted to do, and it totally shows that these guys were absolutely not on top of the game, is that instead of asking themselves, why am I offended now. So I think not only as a critic but as a normal viewer of a movie or a TV show, you should always, if you say, ‘oh, this is too much for me.’ you must always step back and think about it. Why am I so offended now? Or why do I think this is the worst of the worst? Or this is not acceptable for my, whatever, religious or moral constitution I have with myself or political direction I think. And I think, yeah, I have to say I was completely disappointed that these guys basically had no, let’s say desire, to talk with me about the movie.
Well yeah, even to argue the point. I mean if they had something really credible to say something like, ‘well why did you do this?’ or, ‘why did you make Osama bin Laden such a major character?’, I think that would have been a more interesting way to approach it.
There’s the thing. And I think that the point is in POSTAL, is that it’s an all time offender. It’s not like, Bush is an asshole or Osama is an asshole, or whatever. It is… everybody, if you see the movie, you will be like, no matter what, at one point offended. You know, normally I am not, because I give a shit about things. But let’s say, normal, like ninety percent of viewers, will have in that movie, something that offends them. If you see Dave Foley’s dick, that full frontal in front of the camera, this is for a lot of people like, ‘Ugh! I don’t want to see naked man.’ [Which according to Boll’s camp, runs four times as long as the full frontal in FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL] Or we have that scene, in the Nazi theme park, where I play the Nazi theme park owner because I’m from Germany, of course. And there is that scene where the Taliban starts shooting and everybody starts shooting, and by accident, only children are getting killed. So you see like, in kind of a slo-mo WILD BUNCH shoot-out, and all the adults running away and basically only the children getting shot.
And maybe this is offensive for a few people, but people, that like movies or they see movies know, that I broke the taboo on purpose to show how absurd it is. You know, it is absurd to say, we can show in movies like HOSTEL or SAW, how people are getting like cut in half and we see torture all over the place… but don’t shoot a dog or a child. And I make fun out of it. And in all the audience screenings when a big crowd sees the movie, they’re always laughing their asses off as soon as the second child gets shot. Everybody starts laughing in the audience. And I think this is the whole point with POSTAL is not [just a] really political movie, it’s also a movie about what is allowed or not allowed, why we can do some stuff like with censorship and all that stuff. And I see also, like totally different countries, totally different reasons why somebody is insulted. In Germany the discussions were completely different. In Germany they were all insulted from the Nazi theme park.
Of course… yeah.
So everybody was flipping out that I did that as a German and made Auschwitz jokes, this kind of stuff. And I said, look guys I’m born 1965, twenty years after the second World War and I had nothing to do with that shit. It’s really absurd that I should feel guilty what happened. And as a German, like if I would be a German Counselor or whatever, of course, I represent Germany. But that’s different to what my individual situation is. And I don’t think that somebody in America should feel guilty for like bringing slaves from Africa. Or killing the natives.
Well you know, the farther we get in society, the more sensitive we are to everything around us, the more politically correct we get. This often times makes things worse. I like the fact that you are not catering to anybody… hell, I know I’m going to not like the kid stuff, I’m a dad, I don‘t want to see that. But my hats off that you are taking a chance.
No, absolutely. And this was the thing, for me personally, I’m a big fan of movies like THE BLUES BROTHERS or KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE.
I love both of those movies.
Yeah, and the Monty Python movies. And I think this kind of movies are, in a way, not existing anymore. And I miss this kind of ridiculousness, like playing with taboos, which are different from like SUPERBAD or this kind of movies they’re running right now in the theatre. And I think, in the theatres, I’m not against Ben Stiller, Will Farrell, I think these are all good actors, Adam Sandler. But the comedies that are playing are for me, probably only like twenty-five or thirty minutes entertaining. And the rest is cliché. And always sentimental and always returns to the happy ending. And it’s always boy meets girl. I probably like more like this kind of dry humor of what you had in movies like THE BLUES BROTHERS. And I hope I’m not totally alone with that because I think in that spirit, in that thing I did, I did that movie.
I’ve read comparisons to SOUTH PARK: BIGGER, LONGER AND UNCUT which was also sort of dancing along the edge. Are you a fan of “South Park”?
Yes, totally. I have to admit, the first time I was confronted with “South Park” was a German version. It was dubbed in German and a lot of its edge was gone. They changed it in the dubbing. Because it’s very easy to dub “South Park” and say what you want. So nobody can control it if it is a different language. And then I saw it one or two years later on the Comedy Central channel. And I couldn’t believe it, I was laughing my ass off. And since then, I don’t know, I maybe saw eighty episodes, I don’t know how many episodes are out there. But I really, really love “South Park”. And I think, this is actually what the real movie is scared to do. TEAM AMERICA, I liked that also, and I thought why can’t we do something with real actors what has the edge of “South Park”. And this is what I tried with the POSTAL movie. And in the beginning, we didn’t get any of the actors, all the agencies called me and said like, ‘Uwe, you know this is too much, we cannot bring our actors in a movie like this… It could be the end of their career…’ whatever.
And then we did the casting in Los Angeles and there were people like Eric Avery, Vincent Cassell, then the lead actor Zack Ward, all came to the casting. And these are not people that are used to going to public casting, but they actually said that they want to be part of POSTAL,. They read the script and they really liked it, they think it was necessary to do a movie like this. And J.K. Simmons, he picked the part of a corrupt man who wants to run for mayor and so on… I think they were all missing scripts like this in Hollywood for the movies they are getting everyday. I’m really proud that I did the movie and I’m also really happy that it gets out now on May 23rd, even if we have of course not a lot of support from the exhibitors… we don’t have a twenty million dollar advertising campaign. But I think this is a movie… first of all I’m happy if people give me a chance. I feel like I’ve gotten beaten up for a long time now and I would be happy if they give me a chance. And on the other hand, this is also a movie that could get some success because of the internet. Because people saw the beginning of the movie. They saw the trailer. And I think they talk about that movie a long time and I hope that on the INDIANA JONES weekend, that there is space for two movies that people say, okay, let’s go [see INDIANA JONES], but POSTAL I’ll check out also.
Recently you made a few comments involving Michael Bay, Eli Roth and such, what kind of reaction have you had from them?
Yeah, Michael Bay actually answered. And it was on the internet that he feels sorry for me and that I’m basically… that he cannot be offended by me so he gives a shit what I say. And Eli Roth said that it’s a big compliment [Laughing]. So he showed humor. But if you see what I said, like because now, a few other people asked me about that remark, but they are different. I didn’t bash all three in the same way. I said, like Michael Bay is a retard [Laughing]… okay. Because I think that Michael Bay, even if I like for example, BAD BOYS…
Did you like TRANSFORMERS?
I liked TRANSFORMERS also. I think for TRANSFORMERS, he had the credit which he shouldn’t get. Because eighty percent of that movie is shot by second unit and CGI people. So what is the big drama? But I didn’t like, let’s say, whoever knows how Michael Bay works, knows that he is arrogant and he thinks he is the best guy. And the point is, if he shoots only hundred million dollar movies, how can you fail? Because if you do a hundred million dollar movies for a studio, the studio will pump fifty-million dollars in advertising no matter what piece of shit you did [Laughing]. And we see that every year, there are like, twenty-five, thirty studio movies coming out. If I were to make that movie as an independent, nobody would bother. If I had directed 10,000 BC, I would not get… no studio would acquire that movie and put fifty million dollar P and A in, nobody.
They would all say, hey this is shit, direct to DVD. But that is the studio system and a lot of the theatres suffer from that, that every weekend, the screen is getting stocked with my “shitty” movies. Where they are getting out on two thousand screens but the studio produced it and now they are taking the movie out because they don’t want to admit that the movie failed and that it’s better to go out direct to DVD. They don’t want, basically admitting it, because then the producer is gone and they get fired from the studio. But if he pumps another twenty million in advertising, and then the movie tanks, he can say, ‘look it was the marketing… the competition… the blah blah blah.’ And this is their strategy. I think in a way, this is what as a independent… a lot of independent movies suffer from this kind of competition against the studio movies. It’s tougher to get independent movies… a decent release for an independent movie.
And as for Eli Roth, I say that he makes over and over the same movie. I think its kind of true but to be honest, I think Eli Roth is a good film director. I think he is not bad… I am not a big fan of HOSTEL for example, it had for me only certain good minutes. But overall I think Eli Roth is a real film fan and for him it is about getting another project going. But I think Michael Bay’s got all the possibilities. And the remark with George Clooney. I like George Clooney, I like him in a lot of movies. I liked MICHAEL CLAYTON or whatever he did. I did the George Clooney thing, because on that weekend I made that statement, LEATHERHEADS came out [Laughing]. I felt like it was in my mind at that moment… and f*cking George Clooney doing every week the same shit… because I felt like why is he doing a movie like this. I don’t get it. It’s a movie that nobody needs, nobody wants and nobody wants to see it… at all. So this was kind of absurd stuff that was in my head at this point where I made that statement.
Do you ever, because I know you are so bold and you just say what you feel, but do you ever just say something and go, ‘oh shit, I shouldn’t of said that.’?
Absolutely. No, that is true that, of course, I would be in a better position with my career if I hadn’t said a lot of things. The thing, for example, at Sony, I don’t get like… one of the Chiefs at Sony, one of the real high up guys made me an offer for ALONE IN THE DARK 2, BLOODRAYNE 2 and that kind of stuff. And he wanted also IN THE NAME OF THE KING. And it didn’t come to a deal. And the point was, he blamed me and said like, we had a deal, you breaking it, you will never, ever make a deal with Sony again. And I said, but look, you told me you’d give me an advance of 2.2 million for Alone 2 and 2.2 million of Bloodrayne 2. And you take the word. All territories. And then I got the long form contract from Sony and it said the advance would actually be like… they could screw me over completely and I would never get more than the 2.2. And because I’m not a first time director anymore, and I have my things with Lionsgate in the end, so I know how the business works. Right?
And if there are like un capped expenses if you can cross collateralize every country in the world if you don’t separate. Like US, Germany, if you can… then what the studio’s normally doing is, they give you an accounting, what is completely made up basically, and it looks like whatever the advertising is, it is so high that they cannot give you your residuals from America. And because of the experience, I said I cannot sign something like this, I need like Europe accounting, Asia accounting, all separate, nothing cross collateralized. I have to see how big are the expenses, the expenses cannot be capped and whatever is over the cap I have to get. And he said no, this was never the deal. And I said this is the reason I cannot sign it. Because why should I shoot a five million dollar movie if I know I only get 2.2 million out of it, no matter what? That’s totally stupid right?
And then he basically said that Sony would never work with Uwe Boll again. We tried to make it work because you wouldn’t sign. And I think it is unreasonable, over-reacting, from a guy in his position. And it’s unfair, because the other guy is getting from Sony a hundred and fifty million dollars pumped in their ass to make the next turkey… the next bomb. And here’s the thing, this kind of stuff, whether it’s just… I don’t see why I shouldn’t tell a story, how the story was. And people turn this in my disadvantage, I don’t care. Because I feel better… I drive always a completely straight business, like how I shoot my movies, how I sell my movies… and I don’t do all this Hollywood gaming, lying, talking behind their backs, so I talk to everybody in their face. And I say this is how I see it and my opinion is not changing.
Now with that, do you see yourself as more of a filmmaker, or a businessman who is trying to make smart business decisions?
I’m a filmmaker. And the thing is, I have discussions also with personal friends, with people I’ve known since I was ten years old. And the reality is, if I would have turned when I was over thirty years already… we shouldn’t forget that, 1999 I started raising money in Germany to make American movies and in 1999 I was already thirty three years old, and I didn’t make any money before so I worked in the film business at producing, I directed things, but I was not rich or something and drive a big car. So I survived. And I traveled with my first movie, GERMAN FRIED MOVIE for eight months from theatre to theatre to show the movie. And so many people now, like if you read Ain’t It Cool News, think I’m a money guy and I do it all because of the money. It’s completely absurd. And this is really hurting me because everybody who knows me since I’m ten, knows that I want to make movies. And I would make movies, if I would not get any money. I would still try to make movies on video or super 8.
And it’s not about that I run a business and I do that by making movies. I have no interest to be, for example, a distribution chief of a company. I give a shit about it. But I have to turn into that business mood to get the chance to make movies. And I went out there and I raised the money, against some strong competition. And I said look, I raised money for my own movies and other investors were laughing at me. They said, why should we give you the money when we could give it to New Line Cinema, we give it directly to the studio. And they did that. They gave them billions and billions of dollars. And I also got my money, and I grew because the other people got f*cked. They got screwed over by the studios in a major way in Germany. And then year after year I collected more money. And this is the reason that I ended up that I could make a 60 million dollar movie with DUNGEON SIEGE. This is the result of constantly shooting movies, and selling the movies, paying revenues to the investors. And then word of mouth kicked in in Germany. Like, Boll is actually here returning f*cking money. And then it turned in my direction and in 2005 it all stopped. They changed the rules. You’re not getting paid write offs anymore for movies. And since then, I pre-sell my movies and then try to get my money from different people.
Let me know what you think. Send questions and/or comments to JimmyO@joblo.com