Interview with Wolfgang Muchow – Filmmaker / Screen Writer; Winner of the Nevada Film Office Screenwriting competition 2011
Wolfgang Muchow is a Las Vegas filmmaker and recent winner of the Nevada Film Office Screenwriting competition for Best Screenplay 2011. After graduating from UNLV, where he won awards in both screenwriting and directing, Wolfgang was the first film student in UNLV history to be admitted to New York University’s prestigious MFA film program. Wolfgang currently lives in Henderson where we writes and directs commercials and movies.
About the project:
The project: Saturday Night Samurai is a story about a 50-something, Japanese swordsman who ventures to Las Vegas in hopes of landing a samurai dinner show on the strip.
Where did you come up with the idea for this project?
Wolf – The story is really about making it in showbiz and how hard that can be. Stylistically speaking, I was influenced by some great 70’s films like ‘Taxi Driver’ and ‘Midnight Cowboy.’
Why did you choose Las Vegas for this story?
Wolf – Las Vegas has an element of desperation which is one of the running themes of this film. Most of the film takes place Downtown. Our main character, Kiyoshi, even stays at the Blue Angel. Kiyoshi is desperate for redemption and Vegas is the perfect place for him to find it. Plus, where else can you have a guy running around in a rhinestone studded Elvis kimono?
How has winning this competition opened up new opportunities for you?
Wolf – Winning an award like this immediately gives the project credibility. It’s a big help in the early stages of getting a film made. I’d like mention that Danette Tull of the NV Film Office, has been a huge advocate for the project and is sort of the life blood of the contest.
What’s the most important element of a screenplay?
Wolf – I would say it’s all about story and character. If the audience sees an interesting, real character trying to get something, they’ll usually get on board.
What kind of research is involved in writing a story?
Wolf – It changes every time but on this project, I visited the potential locations downtown. I also spoke with some police friends about the types of crime going on in Vegas today.
How do you develop the characters in your stories?
Wolf – I usually loosely base them on people I know or have known. Or I’ll combine a couple people’s characters in an interesting way to come up with a different character. Seth was really a huge help in making the characters in ‘SATURDAY NIGHT SAMURAI’ jump off the page with realism.
How much of your own views / feelings / personality do you put into your characters?
Wolf – It depends, but it’s usually quite a bit. I just hide or disguise it as best I can.
What are your inspirations for filmmaking?
Wolf – I grab inspiration from all over. Sometimes it’s a song, a movie, an event, etc. The best thing a writer can be is observant to the life around them.
What motivated you to become a filmmaker?
Wolf – I fell in love with storytelling at a young age. As I’ve grown, I now realize that I can’t really do anything other than tell stories for a living – which is both good and bad. 🙂
What are some of the challenges or benefits of working in Las Vegas as opposed to LA, where most major production companies operate?
Wolf – Las Vegas offers both challenges and opportunities for filmmakers. I’d say the good thing is that the town is pretty friendly to films in general. There is a great up-and-coming indy scene here. The challenge is that the business is still in LA. If we were to get some strategic film tax incentives in Nevada, you’d see a lot more production here.
What other projects are you working on that we should look out for?
Wolf – I have another script called ‘TOO SMALL TO SAVE’ that I wrote with fellow Las Vegan Wes Hirni, about an immigrant family trying to keep their house out of foreclosure in Las Vegas.
Do you feel that writers / filmmakers have a responsibility to address religious / political / social issues in their stories?
Wolf – I think the writer has a responsibility to the truth, their truth. If they stick to that, everything else will fall in place.
Of the many issues our society is faced with today, which do you consider the most important and why?
Wolf – The decimation of the middle class and income inequality are the biggest issues we face. The American Dream is really on the line here and unless we come together as a country, we’re going to be in some trouble.
If you could write a character to deal with that issue, what would that character look like?
Wolf – Wow, good question. I think that person would look like a middle-class American who’s ready to fight for what they believe in.
What advice would you give to budding filmmakers?
Wolf – To tell good stories. It’s amazing how little the audience cares for all the fancy stuff when there’s a good story.
Wolfgang Muchow is a Filmmaker and Screenwriter.
Artwork Credits: (Artwork was published with permission from the original artist listed below)
Samurai by Lorenz Hideyoshi Ruwwe – Hideyoshi on DeviantArt