Director Edward Zwick Exclusive Video Interview – DEFIANCE

     January 16, 2009

Written by Steve ‘Frosty’ Weintraub

Opening tomorrow in wide release is “Defiance”. The movie is based on the extraordinary true story of a group of Jews that banded together to survive in a forest in Eastern Europe during WW2. The film was directed by Edward Zwick and it stars Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell as the three Jewish brothers that made it all happen. Here’s the synopsis:

The year is 1941 and the Jews of Eastern Europe are being massacred by the thousands. Managing to escape certain death, three brothers take refuge in the dense surrounding woods they have known since childhood. There they begin their desperate battle against the Nazis. Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell star as brothers who turn a primitive struggle to survive into something far more consequential – a way to avenge the deaths of their loved ones by saving thousands of others.

At first it is all they can do to stay alive. But gradually, as whispers of their daring spreads, they begin to attract others – men and women, young and old – willing to risk everything for the sake of even a moment’s freedom. Tuvia (Daniel Craig) is a reluctant leader and his decisions are challenged by his brother, Zus (Liev Schreiber)who worries that Tuvia’s idealistic plans will doom them all. Asael (Jamie Bell) is the youngest – caught between his brothers’ fierce rivalry. As a brutal winter descends, they work to create a community, and to keep faith alive when all humanity appeared to be lost.

To help promote the movie, I recently got to interview director Ed Zwick in his hotel room and we talked about the challenges of making “Defiance” and a whole lot more. It’s a great interview with the talented director.

Finally, if you missed my interviews with Jamie Bell or Daniel Craig just click on their names. And if you’d like to watch some clips from “Defiance”, click here.

Edward Zwick – Part 1

  • Talks about how difficult it was to get financing for the movie – he made the movie with foreign money and then sold it to an American distribution company (Paramount Vantage)

  • Since he didn’t have a Hollywood Studio calling the shots, how much more control did he have as a filmmaker

  • Talks about how all the people took less money to make the movie

  • A lot of the smaller parts had great actors – he talks about the ensemble cast and how they were put in the film

  • How did he first hear about the story and what made him decide to make the movie

  • They made the movie in Lithuania near where the actual events took place, I ask if that was always his intention and did they almost film somewhere else

Edward Zwick – Part 2

  • On set the actors didn’t go back to their trailers, I ask if he noticed a difference while filming

  • Deleted scenes talk – what might be on the DVD/Blu-rayand what was he sad to cut

  • I ask his thoughts on 3-D filmmaking

  • Digital filmmaking versus film

  • What else is he thinking about directing

  • Casting question – Once he got Daniel to be in the movie, was he enough of a marquee star that he could cast the other parts as he saw fit

  • Why was it so hard to locate a domestic distributor

  • Does he think indie films will pick up what the studios aren’t making

  • Talks about a project he wants to produce

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