Exclusive Interview: Uwe Boll on Assault on Wall Street
Uwe Boll has moved away from video game movies and into social commentary movies. He made Attack on Darfur, the documentary Auschwitz, and now Assault on Wall Street, although he’s still done Bloodrayne and In the Name of the King sequels. Assault on Wall Street stars Dominic Purcell as Jim, a working man whose wife (Erin Karpluk) is sick. They can’t pay the bills and he finds out his mortgage is going into foreclosure and an investment firm dumped his stocks so he’s got nothing. After more tragedy, he goes after the Wall Street scum for revenge. Boll seems game to push buttons, so when we spoke to him by phone about the film we got him on all sorts of tangents about the movie industry, finance and politics.
CraveOnline: I’m in an upside down mortgage myself. Can you help me with that?
Uwe Boll: I wish I could. I mean, we are all aware what happened, what still happens to, let’s say, the 99%, the people whose money they lost. I think there’s a reason I did the movie, nobody helped us. They all helped the banks, the government, but nobody really bailed us out.
This poor guy lost his mortgage, his investments and his health insurance. Is there anything you didn’t hit him with?
The point was, for me, to justify what he’s doing. I think if he would just lose his job or something, this was not enough. So we had to put him in a position where he’s losing his existence basically and any reason to hold back. Otherwise, it would be just a guy who runs amok. I wanted to do something where it’s actually justified that the guy flips completely out.
As you said, it’s really a lot of build up of everything that goes wrong for him. Was that a different, unique structure for you, to build up to the action?
Yeah. I did, with Rampage, a movie where the guy runs amok basically for no real reason. I felt here, this is a subject matter that really matters and what is based on reality and what is based on a lot of people’s experience, what actually happened to them. So we had situations where people lost everything, where several million Americans lost their houses through foreclosure. I felt the subject matter is so important that I don’t want to water it down. I didn’t want to make just an action movie or something. For me it was very important that that movie has a realistic setup, that something happens to him that could actually happen and to show the drama, that you really care about the people.
With Dominic Purcell and Erin Karpluk, we really hit that mark. I think they fit very well together. They like each other, both actors like each other and they had a very good chemistry. I feel the love story is very important in the movie and it plays out very well. I watched a lot of screenings and people are really emotionally affected by it. This was very important for me to do the movie. This is basically the only movie I ever did where real people with real emotions have a real drama going on. Maybe Heart of America, my third movie I did in North America, was similar to this but overall I make more genre movies and my more social commentary movies like Stoic, Rampage or Darfur were also very hard and very cynical. I don’t think this movie is cynical at all.
What were your thoughts on changing the title from Bailout to Assault on Wall Street?
This was the decision of the distributor. I think Bailout: Age of Greed, I was very happy with the title because it shows that it really shows what it is. We’re facing really a whole age of greed, the whole broker and Wall Street culture or the culture of greed, and it’s still a culture of greed. As long as you make money, who gives a f*** about the other people and if they go down the drain, if they are in debt and so on. But Assault on Wall Street, people like Dominic Purcell really loved the title, and of course Phase 4 said, “This will sell better.” To be honest, I’m not in the position to stop something that could get us more audience, or what could get us a little more success. To release movies, it’s so tough to get something going that somebody pays attention to a movie, because we’re all in competition with the $50 million P&A spent every single weekend on one or two or three movies from the studios, so how can you gain some attention? The title maybe helps a little.
Actually, I’ve been hearing from other filmmakers since VOD has become such a big thing, having a title with the letter A is really important. Assault works. If people are scrolling through the new releases, you come up first.
I know, but look, Age of Greed? You could also do Age of Greed: The Bailout. It would be almost the same.
Even "B" isn’t bad for Bailout.
The A problem we could solve like this I think, but I think both titles are good. In Germany, for example, they kept the title. Bailout: Age of Greed is the title in Germany and a lot of European countries, we gave them the opportunity but they didn’t use the title. They liked the other title more and I heard from my French and German distributor that they think because the Bailout is in everyday newspaper articles still and gets discussed, they felt like the name Bailout in the title would actually help. So in some countries it will be Bailout and some countries it will be Assault on Wall Street.
You usually shoot in Europe. What was it like actually going to New York City, and did you get permits or shoot guerrilla style?
No, it was guerrilla style. I remember Ari Taub from Hit & Run Productions in Brooklyn, I shot some commercials with him in 1998 and I hired him as my New York line producer. We did it exactly how we did the commercials. We had a crazy permit that could shoot in the city, but we didn’t have Central Park permit or subway permit, so we just went in and shot. The good thing is in New York, everybody is very busy so you don’t have people paying a lot of attention to you if you shoot somewhere. This is a good thing. In other cities like Vancouver or something, the police always comes right away and asks you for the permit. I think in New York they’re just busy with other stuff. It’s actually, then, film friendly.