Julius Berg interview for The Owners

A couple weeks ago AJ Friar got to speak with Julius Berg the director of The Owners which is now on demand, we hope you give it a shot it’s a pretty cool graphic novel adaptation.

AJ Friar:
Good. So congratulations on the owners. What drew you…

Julius Berg:
Thank you.

AJ Friar:
…to this project?

Julius Berg:
I was looking for a concept, a good idea for first feature film, and of course it’s much easier to have a huge budget for a feature movie, so with my mate, with my cowriter, Mathieu Gompel, we were looking for something quite simple that with some good to they were characters, true character, and to have possibly a very strong psychological spiral. And he found this graphic novel. It was seven years ago. It was quite a long time ago. It’s a Belgian comic book, graphic novel. The name in French it’s [Foreign language 00:01:08], “Full Moon Night,” and we liked the premise, and we understood there was something interesting there for an invitation for a movie.
Of course we did a lot of transformation to make the story deeper, stronger, and to have more turning points and surprise ending, and it was very good opportunity, because it’s a single location. The story takes place during one night with six, seven characters, so it was not so expensive to develop. It just has important points to find a [inaudible 00:01:54] quite easily, and it was great opportunity to create different archetype of villain. We did not want to make another horror movie with very strong guys, very smart. Just with a couple of [inaudible 00:02:11].
We switch characters with fragile people, with very polite in a way, with this huge receptivity. It was interesting in a way to work with two old people. For me they are the heart of the story, and because they have this likeability at the first points when we meet them, we have the feeling they are just very sweet, old and just fragile, but more and more we reverse with the power, and oh no, they are very [inaudible 00:02:51]. They can manipulate, lie, and finally, they don’t get the power just with physical force, but with their huge connection together, because it’s a love story, in a way, and how this couple is being connected by a huge love, and they don’t want to lose each other, so they find a force inside, very deep inside, and it’s mainly about how to manipulate the young lovers, how to lie to them and to create [crosstalk 00:03:34] inside the group.
So it’s like chess players, and the performance was great. Yeah, it was great, importance in the great … With a single house and a single location with one house and to much, eventually this house like a character, how it felt to be alive and to become trust of this younger lover, and to invert totally the archetype between victims and between the hunter and prey. Classical structure, but with different kind of villain and protagonist.

AJ Friar:
Right, and like you said, the story centers around the older couple. How was it like casting the older couple, because the chemistry they had with each other was just absolutely fantastic.

Julius Berg:
Yeah. Thanks to my casting director Don [inaudible 00:04:31]. Really, absolutely, I’m so lucky I work with him. He’s a legend in the casting department, and we have this [inaudible 00:04:41] to work together, and they really understood very fast what I wanted to find, what kind of ultimate chemistry I wanted to find between characters. And I think the first section of casting he sent me, it was maybe 20, 30 young actors. It was test section for the younger characters, and I think of the first look, the first time I saw the video presentations he did by himself first alone, I really ended to fall in love with the three younger characters, I mean Jake Curran [inaudible 00:05:19]. It was beautiful for me on the very look, and because each of them, they have this [inaudible 00:05:26] specific identity, and in the end they really worked together. They’re a really good balance.
So for me it was quite intimidate, and I fell for of course for the young heroine, the young actress. We wanted someone who can be a bit more famous to of course to offer commercial possibilities, because it’s always kind of the industry, we have to make money, you know. And Dan [inaudible 00:05:56] proposed Maisie, it was fantastic for me, because of course I was just watching Game of Thrones, and I think she was already one of the most interesting characters, because huge intensity and fewer words of maybe cliché, of archetype, just to be a victim and to be passive about the situation, but here with Maggie, we had this opportunity to give more power and also give that much more weight.
She read the script. She liked it. We had a few more conference. It was before [inaudible 00:06:44], so it was not really to type anyway, and we had great connection together, and finally we met in London. It was great. She’s really delightful. She really understood everything, and also for the two old characters, it was funny, because with any trust proposition of them, Sylvester as the doctor, as we start again, the legendary doctor, and it’s exactly like I wanted, what I was dreaming, because he has this kind of, he has the ability like [inaudible 00:07:31], and he can be very funny. He has a lot of jokes. He’s very welcoming, very charming, youthful, and also he has this kind of craziness inside somewhere, where I understood, okay, there is a way to make him really creepy and really nasty.
And for Rita, it was funny, because a few months before the preparation I went to cinema, just to enjoy time, and I watch this old movie, A Taste of Honey, saw Rita Tushingham, and I fell in love with her. She was 20 years old in this movie, but I didn’t make connection by myself for … It’s interesting. Sent to Danny, told me, “What about Rita? She could be amazing.” Of course, it was like a gift from the universe. We contacted her. I met her in a café, and she was the character, and then of course she’s nicer than Ellen Huggins in reality. She has this duality. Very sweet, a strange something, something a bit strange, but we want to help her. She’s like the ideal [inaudible 00:08:54] we just want to protect. But finally she has sort of this deep and creepy look. She has this amazing versatility.
It was exactly what I wanted. And together they’re just, it was a perfect combination. I couldn’t dream better for myself for just for only the cast I think. It’s the best points, and I’m really happy, because I just didn’t want to make another kind of horror movie with crazy visual approach, but real [inaudible 00:09:32] characters. It’s more psychological spirit like than a horror movie. It’s really how to go as far as it’s supposed to go to work at furthest as well with the actors. And I should really [inaudible 00:09:48], I worked with him. Of course I had to say one word to Stacha Hicks. She has a small part, but she’s amazing also, and we’re lucky to have got to work with her.

AJ Friar:
Well, Julius, thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been really fun talking to you, and congratulations once again on “The Owners.”

Julius Berg:
Thank you very much. Have a great day. Thank you, bye bye.

AJ Friar:
You too.

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