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Interview with Director Jacob Groll of the film mala fide

This week's NewFilmmakersLA Spotlight is on Director Jacob Groll of the film, mala fide. Get to know Groll's work, learn about his latest project, inspirations and catch a few tips for filmmakers just starting out.

Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you’ve been working on it. 

Let me tell you what I want the viewer to experience: I want them to be thrilled, to go over the film in their heads afterwards, making up their minds if they think what they saw was real or not. I want them to be entertained – while watching the film as well as while discussing it afterwards.

We put a lot of effort into the film – we shot on the best available camera, the alexa, we prepared in detail, we got together a great and professional crew and we attracted highly gifted actors to the project. Working like that is very rewarding – everyone can perform on their highest level but still have that vibe and energy of an indie-project.

Is there anyone you'd like to thank for helping out with this film?

The ones primarily responsible to finance the film – the cast and crew. They worked for nothing except a great catering. We did receive funding from the city of Vienna, the state of Upper Austria and Carynthia and I would like to thank these supporting partners as well. But with no/low budget projects one must not forget that the cast and crew, investing their time, effort and their salary into the movie, really make it happen.

How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at the AT&T Center?

It's the world-f@§ing premiere. Right in the center of the movie world, in Los Angeles. Awesome! I'm looking forward to the heart of downtown at AT&T. Don't know how it works in LA, but isn't the staples center nearby? - Is Kobe gonna show up at our screening?

What inspires you?

People, mostly. Strangers I observe, behaving a certain way that immediately tells or provokes a story. They make me imagine a world, a character, a situation, anything that triggers the storytelling gene.
Any work of art may do the same – a song, a painting, even a performance may be the starting point for a story. Then reality kicks in and I start thinking about the implementations – why is that person, that situation interesting to me? What does it symbolize for me that is relevant to us right now as a society?

Who are your influences and who do you admire?

How long may I go on?
Generally, I admire people who have built a body of work that shows versatility, craft and sort of a steady output. There's one hit wonders that do great stuff, but churning out a new piece every couple of years or more often and still remain fresh, interested and exact – that you don't see too often.  Woody Allen springs to mind, Steven Soderbergh or FF Coppolla.
But there's other qualities that might not be as close to me as others but still function as strong influences – the child-like dreaming qualities of Steven Spielberg, the dramaturgical relentlessnes of Michael Haneke, the complexity of Kieslowsky,... - these are all qualities I love to watch again and again and be inspired by.

What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?

Hard work and casualty. - You can't force anything to happen or anyone to like you. You have to try and try and still keep your cool. 99% of your efforts might be disregarded, but that remaining percent, if that is of quality, people are gonna love you – and hire you for it. Quality prevails, so make sure everything you do shows that quality. I'm not talking about perfection or about doing one thing perfect but everything else so-so. I'm talking about everyday work-life and deadlines, about the steady stream of creativity, about showing a supportive and positive work-athmosphere.

If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?

Ok, you really want that list to be long, right?
Writing-wise I would love to be involved in a great writer's room, lead by a great showrunner. I think that working environment is immensely intense and rewarding – you create and learn at the same time.
So think about Ronald D. Moore, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, David Simon,...
Directing-wise it's people whose work and work-style I admire – directors of photography Vittorio Storaro, Gordon Willis, Christopher Doyle,... producers Scott Rudin, the Weinsteins (althoug I think I have to work on my ego before – and my baritone), with editors like Thelma Shoonmaker or Walter Murch, and – oh god, - these wonderful actresses and actors. People like Philipp Seymore Hoffman, Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Edward Norton (gotta boost the ego even more)
Dream-come-true is writing a script with Peter Morgan, produced by George Clooney & Grant Heslov, starring Denzel Washington and Cate Blanchett.

What is the toughest experience you've ever had to overcome?

Years ago, my then writing partner turning to me after really bad criticism on the second draft, saying “Yes, I think so, too. Jacob, you have to solve that.”

What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?

Fuck them. Keep writing.

What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?

Find a mentor. Never had one, but I heard it's great.

Where can we expect to see you next?

At the bar after the screening?
A TV-series I co-created and co-wrote is being shot and will be shown in Autumn. I hope they show it in the U.S., too. Right now, I'm finishing writing a feature that I hope to get into production this year.

Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Thanks for inviting me and thanks for all the interest!

For more information, visit:

About the Author

Formerly an editor at Demand Media, writer at Citysearch, The Examiner and proofreader at The Los Angeles Daily News, Christy Buena decided to start Disarray Magazine because she missed writing what she wanted. From hiring writers, to contacting publicists and making assignments, Christy is responsible for the editorial strategy of Disarray Magazine. Get to know the team of talented contributors.
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