Three Great Things: Uwe Boll

The notorious German filmmaker — newly back from his hiatus as a restaurateur — waxes lyrical about haute cuisine, Yellowstone and directing.

Three Great Things is Talkhouse’s series in which artists tell us about three things they absolutely love. In the latest installment, the infamous German director – whose latest film, First Shift, is currently in post-production – shared some of the things he loves the most in life. — N.D.

Good Food
I had an early passion for food and cooking and I think dinner is the most important get-together with friends and family, where people can relax and enjoy the food and wine. So, for me, it has a bigger meaning than just eating something. Put your cell phone away and have a real conversation. When I see my kids, they are less and less interested in sitting down and enjoying dinner together, and I think that is a custom that should come back.

Over the years, I have traveled to so many different countries where I shot films and was always on the hunt for interesting restaurants. The crew were seldom interested in exploring these places with me, so I visited a lot of restaurants alone. But I enjoy that too. If I eat alone in a restaurant, I just watch people – how they react, how they talk.

When I opened my own restaurant in Vancouver, the Bauhaus Restaurant, it was, in retrospect, a mistake, because hospitality is just a horrible business. But we pulled off good food and good design. The restaurant was driven by a love for food and the desire to bring a German high-end cuisine to Canada, which nobody really knows exists. A lot of times, people just think German food is all schnitzel.

My ideal place to eat with friends and family is outdoors in Italy in the summer. I love Italian food. If I had to pick what cuisine I would eat every day, it would definitely be Italian, not only because of the pizza and pasta, but also the grilled fish. Italians make very simple food that is super healthy and super tasty. I love it. I couldn’t eat German food or sushi every day – that would be impossible.

Taylor Sheridan’s TV Shows
I recently binge-watched the whole of Yellowstone and I feel like I know why Taylor Sheridan is so successful now – it’s because he’s doing old-fashioned storytelling, making a straightforward, in-your-face family drama. It’s like Dallas, but brutal. Of course, it is not really realistic, because lots of the characters would actually be in jail for murder; the fact that they’re getting away with all this killing is a little absurd. But the way the stories are told, the characters are always evolving or developing, even if a lot of them are over the top. And it totally works. Even the spin-off shows, like 1883, are very good. Beforehand, I had no clue that Faith Hill and Tim McGraw were actually good actors, but they gave strong performances. And I also love 1923, the spinoff starring Harrison Ford.

I really appreciate Taylor Sheridan’s shows because they’re so different. They don’t try to do too much, they just tell a compelling story with an interesting configuration of people. Another of Sheridan’s shows, Mayor of Kingstown, is similar – it’s also completely unrealistic, with lots of murder and mayhem – and I love that too.

I saw The Night Agent recently and I understand why it was the number one show on Netflix, but it doesn’t come close to Yellowstone or Sheridan’s other shows. They have a little more to them, especially Yellowstone. It’s too bad Kevin Costner’s leaving the show. I still have to watch Tulsa King, with Sylvester Stallone, though, so that’s next on my list.

One thing that amazes me is how Taylor Sheridan can actually write all of these shows! It seems almost impossible. I’m a very slow writer, so when I write something, I need endless time, but he has five shows simultaneously and he’s the only writer. I cannot imagine that he doesn’t have a writers room with people helping him, but it looks like he can sit down, like Stephen King or James Patterson, and just start writing at 8 a.m. and go for eight hours writing straight. I admire that. It’s really unbelievable.

Shooting a Movie
Shooting a movie is my favorite thing to do. I know a lot of directors who say, “You write the script and then it all gets destroyed on set,” or, “You create the film in the editing room,” but I think the real moment of truth is being on set. It’s always felt like the payoff, when I can finally work with the actors and turn what I’ve thought about for so long into a reality.

When I came back to filmmaking after the restaurant episode, I realized just how much I missed shooting a movie. I like the communication and see myself as a circus director, the person controlling the space and making it all happen so we can get the film in the can.

It helps me that I always work with the same D.P., Mathias Neumann, and we know each other extremely well. We always meet before production, so we don’t really have to talk about anything when we’re on set and I can really focus on the actors. On my new film, First Shift, I did rehearsals in New York before we shot, so the actors could really get comfortable with their characters. During the shoot, almost every night I ate with Kristen Renton and Gino Anthony Pesi, my two lead actors, recapping scenes and discussing the work we’d done.

During my hiatus from filmmaking, I really missed being on a film set, shooting a film. I produced two documentaries about the homeless and the drug addiction in Vancouver, but it’s just not the same when you’re not directing.

Uwe Boll is a German director and producer. With a unique blend of education in economics and literature, Boll’s career boasts more than 34 films, including video-game adaptations like House of the Dead. After a brief interlude to enter the culinary world with his acclaimed Vancouver restaurant, Bauhaus, Boll is poised for a return to filmmaking with his new projects, 12 Hours and First Shift. Boll currently resides in Mainz, Germany, with his wife Natalie and their three children.