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An Interview with Joe Swanberg, Director of Silver Bullets

by Mike Haberfelner

December 2011

Films directed by Joe Swanberg on (re)Search my Trash


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Your film Silver Bullets - in a few words, what is it about?


Silver Bullets is about the filmmaking process.


Silver Bullets is said to be an autobiographical movie. To what extent is that true, and where does Joe Swanberg, the man, end, and your movie character begin?


With this film, it's difficult to tell where the line is drawn. I've chanced since I made the film, so it's easier now to separate myself from it, but while we were shooting it felt very autobiographical.


Silver Bullets has a werewolf theme to it. Why werewolves, is that a genre somehow dear to you ... or did you just happen to have the proper props?


Werewolves are a metaphor I'm using to talk about actors. I think there are some interesting similarities between the two.


Other sources of inspiration for Silver Bullets?


Chekhov's play The Seagull. Larry Fessenden's film Habit.


How would you describe your directorial approach?


My main effort as a director is to be collaborative. I want to create films based on everyone's ideas, not just my own.


Silver Bullets contains two films-within-the-film, the guy's erotic arthouse movie and the girl's werewolf flick, both of which are only touched upon though. Was either of them ever mapped out in more detail?


I had full ideas for each film so that we could talk about them believably and make references to things that the viewer wouldn't see in Silver Bullets.


When it comes to making the werewolf film in Silver Bullets, your film seems to be full of anecdotes (many only touched upon). Now where did these come from?


Most of these come from the actors' lives, especially Ti West's. He helped walk me through the process of making a horror film at that level and shared many of his stories.


How would you describe the relationship between the indie arthouse and indie horror scene in today's filmworld, and have you ever considered or would you ever consider crossing the line and making a bona fide horror film?


I did make a horror film recently. It's a segment of the film V/H/S, which will be showing at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. I like the horror film scene, especially the dedication of the audience. I wish art house films had such a dedicated and passionate audience of young people.


Silver Bullets, as well as your films in general, has been labelled mumblecore. A label you can at all live with, and how would you label your films yourself?


My films keep changing, so it's hard to label them. Mumblecore will probably stick with me the rest of my life.


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?


I decided I wanted to make films after watching Raising Arizona. I've been very dedicated to the idea ever since then. I went to film school at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL.


What can you tell us about your first feature Kissing on the Mouth, what were lessons learned from it, and would you do it any differently today?


I treated Kissing on the Mouth as a second film school. I tried to approach filmmaking as an absolute beginner, with no preconceived notions. I wanted to see if I could avoid references to other films and make something original. The only way I knew to do that was to make the film as if it were a documentary and I was always reacting to the actors, letting them be in control of everything.


Between Kissing on the Mouth and Silver Bullets (and even after that one), you have done quite a lot of movies. Where do you find the energy and also the inspiration to make them at such a speed?


There are always several things and people that interest me and if I wait too long to make a film, the idea will disappear, so I'm trying to capture everything as quickly as possible now.


Directors who inspire you?


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find Joe Swanberg
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find Joe Swanberg here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Joe Swanberg at

In no particular order: John Sayles, Jonathan Demme, Lars Von Trier, Eric Rohmer, Maurice Pialat, Marco Ferreri, James Gray, Roger Corman [Roger Corman bio - click here].


Your favourite movies?


Stop Making Sense, Jackass: The Movie, Dillinger Is Dead, Chloe in the Afternoon, Two Lovers, Punch Drunk Love, Breaking The Waves, We Won't Grow Old Together.


Your website, Facebook, whatever else?


Thanks for the interview!


By the way: Silver Bullets will be the first film to be released in the limited Joe Swanberg: Collected Films 2011-subscription -


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD