Things I’ve Learned as a Moviemaker: Uwe Boll
A German enfant terrible (or just plain terrible, for many critics) moves to Vancouver in the late ’90s and builds a name making gore-driven adaptations of video games, such as House of the Dead, Alone in the Dark and BloodRayne.
He makes 24 movies in the city—projects that boast the likes of Ben Kingsley, Jason Statham, Udo Kier and Burt Reynolds, but flounder at the box office and struggle to gain favor with critics. He challenges his critics to boxing matches (and defeats them all in the ring). Thousands of people petition for him to stop making films, but he refuses. Then, two years ago, the filmmaker (and serious foodie) reveals plans to open a restaurant in his new Canadian home, partnering with Michelin star chef Stefan Hartmann. The restaurant—Bauhaus, an upscale nouvelle German gem—gains unanimously acclaim. And, this past fall, after the completion and release of his last feature, the moviemaker announces that he’s hanging up his camera for good to dedicate himself to the culinary world.
There’s a kind of irony to the story—that it was good reviews that made Uwe Boll quit making films. Still, members of the cult of Boll get one last hurrah: his last movie, Rampage: President Down, the final chapter in the Rampage trilogy, is widely considered some of his best work. The Brendan Fletcher-starring films have survived tanked crowdfunding campaigns and more, and, like much of Boll’s work, stand testament to the drive of their dogged creator. We took the opportunity to bid the controversial moviemaker farewell with these 13 learning points from his colorful career. – MM
1. Shooting 32 movies on time and within budget doesn’t mean that you’ll get any offers from any producers to direct movies. They prefer to hire young geeks they can manipulate the way they want and send to Comic-Con, because they look like idiots going to Comic-Con.
2. The initial investors in movies generally get screwed because the revenues are so easily stolen by distributors, sales agents and producers. You can say “creative accounting,” but I say “theft.”
3. On set, always be aware that the day is long. Check out where to get a good cappuccino during the shoot. Have a warm wardrobe and rain gear in your car.
4. When the crew says it’ll be ready in 10 minutes, it will be 15 to 20. Yelling will make things go faster.
5. Don’t let people leave the set for a little break. It will be a bigger break than you want.
6. Nowadays, when shooting digital, keep shooting. Don’t yell “cut.” Just say, “Go back to position and do it again.”
7. Always give the editor a chance to do an editor’s cut, because he will be more motivated, and maybe some of his ideas are better than yours.
8. Listen to everybody but only do what makes sense for you. Never slow down the shoot in order to have discussions with crew or cast.
9. Instead of thinking, “Should I do another take,” just do the take and move on.
10. If a CGI guy tells you it will be “no problem” to fix something in post, you can count on it being expensive.
11. Changing caterers midway through a shoot is crucial.
12. If an actor is a drama queen, let him be, as long as he delivers.
13. Jokes and humor will help get you through the day. Never forget: You’re the one who made your expensive hobby your job. MM
Rampage: President Down is currently available on Netflix.
This article appears in MovieMaker‘s Winter 2017 issue. Photographs courtesy of Event Film Distribution.