Taking It Back (2014), written and directed by Austrian filmmaker Andreas Schmied, is an unusual romantic comedy. Patrick Angerer (Michael Ostrowski) is one of many workers protesting at the Falkendorf steel plant that is getting unfair pay and unfair conditions with the company’s new management. When his ex girlfriend (Hilde Dalik) shows up as the union’s lawyer, Patrick steps up his game to win her back, and simultaneously, win his job back. While the movie holds a rather lighthearted tone, Schmied touches upon some serious subjects dealing with corporate globalization and blue-collar perseverance. After premiering in Texas with the Austin Film Festival, Schmied shares some of his experiences with Literal.
I’ve always wanted to direct, but having no classical education in film, I chose to become a screenwriter first. After almost 10 years writing, I had the idea for this film and knew from the beginning that the only person to write AND direct this film had to be me. Coming from a family of steelworkers, I knew the world of my story, but writing it took me almost 3 years – on and off – between writing assignments.
There is plenty of commentary about corporate bureaucracy in this film, and yet you chose to convey it through a comedy. I think there is a lot of merit in that. Can you talk a bit more on this?
It was just a question of tone. I think life is both funny and sad, bitter and sweet. I think my movie reflects that. I wanted to make a movie for a broad audience, kind of a funny and poignant fairytale if you will. And it worked, people get the tone shifts in the film, they laugh, they cry – we became the second highest grossing Austrian film of the year.
Large firms taking over small companies or monopolizing small towns is a problem that is becoming global. Have you had any direct encounters with this?
A factory actually shut down in the city where we were filming. Right when we were filming. So some of our extras consisted of people who just lost their job. Coming from a part of the country where there was a blooming steel industry in the 1960s and 1970s, and hearing and witnessing stories about the decline of that industry definitely influenced my approach to this particular story. The events in my film are totally made up, though.
On a lighter note, are there any humorous stories that are worth talking about during the filming of this movie?
During filming we lived in a kind of a Ski-Lodge. It was run down, cramped and it had bad food, on some days no warm water and heating. We shot in autumn and the weather conditions changed a lot. On some nights it froze, other nights there was sweltering heat. And our quarters weren’t any better. We had almost no kind of cell phone reception and no internet. But living there made us a better team, a better crew. We bonded over the lack of comfort and had more fun. There were some serious ping-pong tournaments going on.
I just had a great time in Austin. It’s a lovely and very open festival. What’s most important about it is: it celebrates writers. This is special because we are often overlooked, almost forgotten really. This is great because every movie starts with a screenplay; and every screenplay is written by a person who deeply cares about a story or about an idea.
What’s next for you? Are you working on any other films at the moment?
I am working on my second feature film right now. It is a total departure from my first film because I like to stretch my wings. Basically, it’s a thriller, but with a lot of drama and also comedy thrown in. In addition to that I am writing, just constantly writing.
Lorís Simón Salum is the Creative Director for Literal Magazine. Some of her projects include Literally Short Film Awards, Literal’s short film festival, Literally Everything, Literal’s podcast, and Ensoulment: A Diverse Analysis of the Feminine in Western Culture, Literal’s first feature documentary. You can follow her on Twitter at @lorissimonsalum.
Posted: October 27, 2014 at 7:00 am