The new indepedent film POLLYWOGS premiered just recently at the still running 2013 LA Film Festival where it was described as offering an equally amusing and insightful look at directionless thirty-somethings lurching towards adulthood. The film is directed by first-time feature director Karl Jacob (who also wrote the screenplay, produced and starred) and T. Arthur Cottam. In the film Dylan–who’s played by Karl Jacob–retreats to Minnesota for a family reunion featuring firearms, heavy metal and unwelcome questions. Amongst the throng of relatives, he discovers Sarah, the childhood crush he hasn’t seen since her family decamped to a religious compound. Could she prove to be the perpetually heartbroken Dylan’s salvation or will their emotional scars fail to align?
We were fortunate to catch up with the talented Karl Jacobs and fired off a few questions about his new film.
VIMOOZ: First, congratulations on POLLYWOGS being an official selection in the 2013 LA Film Festival … and the World Premiere on Friday.
Karl Jacob: Thanks. We are excited to be premiering it here at LAFF, they have been taking really good care of us, and the audiences have been amazing. Both of our screenings were sold out shows!
VIMOOZ: Tell us about POLLYWOGS – the story?
Karl Jacob: The story is about a man coming home to Minnesota after a bitter breakup to seek support from his family during a reunion. While he is there he runs into his childhood best friend and first love who he has not seen for 18 years since her family moved to a religious compound. It’s really a story of confronting your past in order to move ahead.
VIMOOZ: Why did you set the film in Minnesota and not say Brooklyn or California?
Karl Jacob: Northern Minnesota is where I was born and raised, and I am interested in focusing my story worlds to exist inside of the culture there. It’s a world I know a lot about, and find very fascinating. It’s also a culture that I haven’t really seen showcased much in cinema. There was also a practical decision for this as I cast my entire family in the film and we shot it at our family cabin. As filmmakers it’s always a huge boost to production value when you can get amazing locations and willing actors for free.
VIMOOZ: What films have you directed before?
Karl Jacob: This is my directorial debut, aside from some small music videos. I have directed some theater and taught many acting classes. I have also acted professionally for 15 years. I produced a feature film in 2011 called Happy New Year.
VIMOOZ: You wrote the film, what was the inspiration? Was it based on experience?
Karl Jacob: I think every work of fiction pulls from experiences that we have in our own lives, and so does Pollywogs. The film was definitely inspired by a breakup, and the relection afterward is what lead to the finished product. Conversations with friends and family, working with T. on the structure along with workshoping the film with the actors over the course of 6 months got us to what you see on the screen. While shooting we stuck to a firm story structure, but all of the dialogue is improvised, which is why the actors all have an “Additional Material” credit. Everyone brought something to the table, it was hyper colaborative.
VIMOOZ: And you also acted in the film, what was more difficult, the acting or the directing?
Karl Jacob: Well, to be honest it kind of blurred at a certain point. We were all so well rehearsed and talked so much about the story and the vision that I was able to really rely on everyone coming with their A-game. This made it much more comfortable to both act and direct. We had an amazing team and I really could not have done it without their diligence and professionalism. It was also a fun and unique experience to guide the scene as a director through my performance while I was acting in it.
VIMOOZ: What’s up next for POLLYWOGS, the film?
Karl Jacob: Up next we have a screening in Duluth, MN, near where we shot the movie. It is on it’s way to a few more festivals as well. The complete list will be announced on Pollywogsmovie.com soon. Signing up for our region-based mailing list on the website will get you announcements for when it is coming to a theater near you. It will be on VOD in soon as well.
VIMOOZ: What’s up next for you?
Karl Jacob: I have a documentary that I will be shooting in the fall about 2 men and their journey into the Colorado Rockies to seek out and kill an elk with a Bow. I also have a episodic series in development.