Welcome witches and warlocks,
I had the great pleasure of interviewing Fritz Bohm the writer/director of WILDLING (2018) and we discussed everything from turning puberty into a horror movie to moving from Germany to America to make a movie. Read on to learn more:
Nightmarish Conjurings: How would you describe your movie for someone who knows nothing about it?
Fritz Bohm: I would say that you’re going to see a dark fairytale from the perspective of the monster and, for our story, the monster is female.
NC: This particular monster, a werewolf, is usually male; why did you decide to make your version a female?
FB: That was exactly the reason, because there are so many male driven creature features out there. It seems like the females are always the damsel in distress or the girlfriend at the side of the hero and I feel like it is time to change that. Even though there have been female creature films we just felt like there’s a fresh angle here to explore, an area that hasn’t been shown much yet. By slipping into the skin of our main character we are really trying to create a film that is entirely from her perspective and we want to put the audience into her subjective experience with what’s going on in her body. We want to show people how these factors interact with the world around her
NC: Were you already interested in werewolves going into this?
FB: Well I knew that our creature would be hairy and that it would have teeth so that automatically made me think of werewolves. Of course you can’t get around it, there are werewolves everywhere. In addition to the ones I grew up with I started watching more werewolf movies and at some point I just realized that what we’re trying to do here is not a straight werewolf film. Werewolves come with so many magical tropes like silver bullets, full moon transformations, and sometimes magical amulets while our story came from a different place. It didn’t start as a creature film, instead it started as a story about a girl becoming a woman. It was about that strange phase in life we call puberty; where you find yourself at odds with the world. The fantasy element was to take that human experience of puberty a step further by playing with the idea of the biological process. We change during puberty because our genes tell us to so it didn’t make sense to me to load the story up with any magical tropes. Even though wildlings are a fictitious species and that in itself is kind of a fantasy element, we didn’t want to do any other magical things. We wanted to try to make this as biological as possible and just say, “What if there was really a parallel species to Homo sapiens called the wildlings?”
NC: Since you were a co-writer on the script, did you guys write with a certain cast in mind?
FB: Not at all. I tried to specify the characteristics of the characters as little as possible in the script and really focus only on their major arcs throughout the movie. We did this so that we could stay open since we weren’t quite sure if we’d get any response since this being my first feature. It’s always a struggle to get any film made and even more so if you don’t have a huge resume already. We didn’t know where it was going to take us and then luckily Bel Powley responded to the script and that really got us started. Not only had she done this amazing performance in The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015) she also made me realize it was possible to make the movie. It became clear that she could do this, she had the chops to pull this roll off. It was actually quite a tall order because what we were asking for in the script and all the things she had to go through; it’s a lot to carry on her shoulders. As a young actress she took it all on with ease; she’s really such a trooper. She just said to me, “I have never done something like this before and I want to do it so let’s go.” That was really cool for me, I got really lucky there.
NC: How much of the effects were practical versus CGI?
FB: Yeah, there were a lot of practical effects. The thing about practical effects is that they can slow you down massively in production with things like makeup time, the mechanics of practical effects, the readjusting of claws, the makeup layers, and ripping latex. You have to be aware that if you have practical makeup effects in the movie, it’s a huge factor for your schedule and unfortunately I didn’t have a very long shooting schedule. We only had twenty three days to shoot the whole movie so we ended up doing a blend in post-production. We went with practical effects with as much as we could be practical and then layering digital elements on top; from simpler things like retouching all the way up to replacing entire parts of the head where necessary
NC: How difficult was the rest of the casting once you had Bel Powley on board?
FB: We made sure to cast our lead first because she had to carry the movie and the whole movie is from her perspective, so she was the number one priority. For the other roles we luckily found Brad (Dourif) and Liv (Tyler) who just responded to the script and felt like there was good character material for them to work with. They felt the material was either going to places they hadn’t gone before or they felt they could bring something personal to the table. I think that’s great because the more an actor is motivated or invested emotionally in the role and understands the psychology the easier the director’s job becomes. It definitely made my job much easier to shoot the script we had written as it was while still making room for the cast to put in their own flavor or leave their own imprint on the movie. I totally tried to encourage that as much as I could
NC: What was the change like coming over from Germany and working on your first full feature?
FB: Yes, it was quite a change. Honestly, I always saw myself as a filmmaker: I always wrote screenplays, directed a lot of shorts, and then in Germany I had a production company. With that I worked as a producer, did a lot of post-production, and script revisions parallel to running that company. I learned a lot that way, but I also came to the point where I noticed that there’s just a way bigger reception for fantasy stories or stories that involve fantastical elements in the United States. It just seems to be a better home for genre films in general and more keep getting made. That’s why I eventually settled over here and I just started from scratch writing the script. I’m glad I made that choice because along the way I also met my wife and things just kind of settled into place nicely. I’m very happy about my decision
NC: I saw your wife is a writer too, would you guys ever consider writing something together?
FB: Yeah, we are right now
NC: That’s your next project, I take it?
FB: We have quite a few things in the pipeline and while we usually work on different projects, there’s this one we’re working on together. I don’t know if that will be the next one, but it’s been nice sharing our passion. If you can write with your spouse, come to a sort of mutual understanding, or share the obsession that comes with working on a project, it’s great
WILDLING will be in theaters in NYC and LA as well as being available on VOD and Digital HD on April 13th.