Q&A with writer-director Jeremiah Zagar

We The Animals

11 June 2019

We're thrilled that one of 2019's must-see movies is lighting up DCA this month - We The Animals is a fluid, dream-like adaptation of Justin Torres' autobiographical novel that deserves to be seen in all its lustrous beauty on the big screen. 

The story of a mixed-race family with three inseparable young sons, it explores the teenage quest for freedom and curiousity towards sexuality with an honesty that will linger in your thoughts all summer long.

We chatted to writer-director Jeremiah Zagar ahead of the film's release on Friday 14 June - read on for more about his experience of making We The Animals.

Hi Jeremiah, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I am a filmmaker and a Dad. I have a bad back so I swim often. I was born in Philadelphia but I live in Brooklyn. I currently own a production company called Public Record with my partner, Jeremy Yaches.

“I would watch almost anything as long as it was projected on a big screen!”

We're really looking forward to screening We The Animals at DCA. Can you tell us a bit about the film?

It's based on a book by the same name, written by the brilliant Justin Torres. I love the book, it's told from the point of view of Jonah, the youngest of three brothers as he comes into his own. But at its heart the film is about love, family love. 

How did the project move from concept to reality? 

Over five years we wrote 12 drafts of the script and storyboarded every frame. We auditioned thousands of young men for the roles of the brothers, and then we worked with acting coach Noel Gentele for a year. It has been the hardest and most rewarding journey of my life.

What were the biggest differences you experienced making a feature film compared to making a documentary? 

With a fiction film you have more control over the acting – that’s really about it.

As a filmmaker, which films have most inspired you? 

For this film in particular:  Ratcatcher, Kes, 400 Blows, Turtles Can Fly, and Pan's Labyrinth.

When you're not making films, what do you most enjoy watching on the big screen?

Before I had a son I went to the movies at least 3 times a week, now I try to go at least once. I love movie theatres - I would watch almost anything as long as it was projected on a big screen!

What advice would you give to people who'd like to work in the film industry? 

Find a craft someone will pay you for.

Brilliant - thank you so much, Jeremiah!

Book tickets for We The Animals now, at DCA cinema from Fri 14 - Thu 20 June. 

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