What is the story behind the new movie “Roughtown”?
Producer Eskindir Tesfay: Katja Wagner and I immediately agreed, that “Roughtown” was perfect for Movie-Do’s (www.movie-do.com) first dramatic project. We were able to combine everything that was important to us in one project – wholeheartedness, humor, a positive message, irony and some fight action. “Roughtown” is not a martial arts movie. It is entertainment for the entire family and its stylized and exaggerated fight scenes rap the bad boy’s knuckles – without seriously harming them! No blood, no broken bones, no deaths – but hopefully some good chuckles. These decisions aid the moral of the film, which is: oppose your bullies, defend yourself or others if you have to and live and let live.
Director Gabriele Heberling: Roughtown is the story of a young woman, Sabrina, who gains more self conscious by using “action film” as a vehicle to survive the real action of her life and act gutsier for herself and others. A story of real people with real problems, who free themselves through fiction. “Those who have no courage to dream, have to power to fight.” A story that conveys courage and women power.
What was the process of making the film like?
Producer Katja Wagner: Producing our first 30-minutes film was quiet an adventure. Totally different from what we had tackled in the past. I had written the first version of the script in 2011 and until the first shooting day had to change it about 12 times – due to financial, organizational or location requirements. The road to May 11, 2013, which marks the first shooting day, was quiet bumpy and ranged from bad weather conditions to short term personnel or technical drop-outs.
But we were extremely lucky and unduly happy with our choice of cast and crew who’ve managed to exceed our expectations!
Director Gabriele Heberling: Executing the script we constantly had to be on our toes. Like every other film project we were at the mercy of weather, nights were short and shooting locations broke away. But because the producers, especially Katja and Eskindir, had put their shoulders to the wheel to make this film possible, in the end those odds were peanuts.
Our motto was: Form follows function. Meaning, stylistically following the function of the scenes. To be able to direct the glitzy characters in the beautifully choreographed fight scenes, we had to adjust the script during production every now and then.
Describe your favorite moments from the movie, characters or special scenes.
-Producer Eskindir Tesfay: My favorite was the moment on set when the Roughtown characters became reality. For two years they had only been written on a piece paper and existed as ideas in our heads. And at these moments again we realized how great our cast was.
Producer Katja Wagner: Two of my favorite moments, sorry I can’t narrow it down to just one, was when I first saw the dimension of our staff on set. In the beginning I had hoped for 10, and expected 5 maybe 6 people, which is normal for a short film. But in the end we had round about 25 crew- and 20 cast members. It was absolutely overwhelming!
The other one was watching two characters come to live: “Larissa”, portrayed by Barbara Sotelsek, and “Frankie the Fish”, portrayed by Sven Gerhardt. Because of their intended fulsomeness, most of the characters were challenging, but these two I was especially curious about. Sven and Barbara just nailed it!
How does the lead character Sabrina fit with your vision of the movie?
Director Gabriele Heberling: During production it was important to me that the audience feels a deep empathy for the main character Sabrina and is able to transfer it to the dream character of Cassidy Knight. That was very easy with Sabrina, since she is a quiet, loveable, kind wallflower who is being mobbed and hereby reaches to the viewer’s hearts. She eventually fights back, what the viewer wishes for, as her alter ego Cassidy Knight. She hereby backs the empathy for this character who never acts out of self purpose or the pure joy of action.
Sabrina’s hero is Detective Rob Nelson, a fictional TV series character who is very complex as a role. And because he is fiction, he has a big scope which allows him to do even forbidden things. Sabrina dives into this fiction and, in a sense, vaults herself into reality, where slowly but steady the wallflower transforms into a confident woman. For the action in “Roughtown” isn’t real – it is film in film or dream sequence – the genre “action film” steps aside to go hand in hand with Sabrina’s story. The fiction in the fictional film, the mixture of cinematic layers allowed us to play with the characters, Sabrina leading the way, and to portrait a varied selection of glitzy characters to act as Rob Nelson’s opponents and give Sabrina’s alter ego, Cassidy Knight, the finishing touch.
What type of audience did you have in mind when making Roughtown?
Producer Eskindir Tesfay: We made this movie by combining everything that was important to us – a good story, wholeheartedness, humor, a positive message, irony and some fight action. Roughtown is a film for the entire family and a broader audience than just martial arts fans.
Producer Katja Wagner: We chose to film the fights with actors only in the style of 80’s/90’s Bud Spencer movies – as primary self-ironic, straightforward and humorous family entertainment.
What kind of debate do you hope the movie will generate after being watched?
-Producer Eskindir Tesfay: First of all I hope that it will inspire the audience and make them smile. Second I hope bigger film productions – especially in Germany – will be more open to a multicultural and less stereotyped cast. Third we hope that film funding in Germany will become more open to action film formats.
Producer Katja Wagner: Hopefully the audience will enjoy “Roughtown” altogether; the story, the humor, the message, the action. And hopefully they’ll ask for more, because we’re planning to make it a feature film some time in the future…
Any plans whether you will be submitting the film to festivals?
“Roughtown“ is definitely going to festivals; that is what it’s designed for. We hope to show it all over the globe within all kinds of fora. We look forward to the feedback after the audience views the film. (www.faceboo.com/roughtown)