Interview with John Swab, director of Little Dixie

John Swab
Martin Cid
Martin Cid

Today it is our pleasure to ask John Swab, director of Little Dixie, some questions before the movie premieres in a few days. Firstly, thank you for your time to be interviewed and, first things first: What sensations do you have on the premiere of Little Dixie?

A: We are very excited to premiere this in Rotterdam, then share with the rest of the world. All of these are labors of love. Little Dixie we are especially proud of.

Q: You team up again with Frank Grillo after Ida Red (2021) and Body Brokers (2021). What is your relationship with the star? Was Frank Grillo the inspiration for Little? What does John Swab bring to it and what does Grillo bring to the movie?

A: Frank has become a dear friend and collaborator to myself and producer, Jeremy. We think of him as our modern-day Charles Bronson. With a film like this, a throwback action story, it just seemed to perfect not to have him as our Doc. When putting a camera on Frank, it feels a lot like photographing a wild animal. No matter what he does, I believe it will be interesting to watch.

Q: About the film, we saw it and the brutal violence in it is eye-catching and evidently, the scenes with Doc in the car and his monologue, scenes that we can´t forget. How do you expect the audience to react at these particular scenes and the violence in general in Little Dixie and your film projects in general?

A: I have no expectations for how people will react… I love the movie – and the scene you are referencing. I feel like films like this are either for you – or not. There is no middle ground.

Q: The movie has a very definite style with the photography of Will Stone, whom you worked with in Candy Land (2022). Besides the violence in the plot, the movie has force and very big contrasts visually. How did you work on this aspect and how did you plan the visual aspects of the film?

A: After Candy Land, Will and I discussed approaching this very differently. With CL, it was Hand Held and mostly lock offs, trying to achieve that dated visual style and place the viewer in a specific “time”. With LD, we wanted it to feel bigger than it was budgetarily. We knew that it would be compared to films with 10x the resources. So we tried to keep the movement fluid with Steadicam and Dolly moves. It was important that Doc and Cuco always feel like that were heading downhill, destroying anything in their way, into a head on collision with one another.

Q: What have been the references and influences in your movies regarding thrillers and criminal movies?

Paul Schrader, Peckinpah, Walter Hill, QT, Melville – to name a few.

John Swab
John Swab director, Candy Land, Fuori concorso, at the 75 Locarno Film Festival, Tuesday, 09 August 2022. © Locarno Film Festival / Ti-Press / Marco Abram

Q: Your first feature film was Let Me Make You a Martyr and the stars were Marilyn Manson and Mark Boone Jr. What has changed in your way of making movies ever since that first film of fifteen years ago?

A: I had to check the calendar to make sure you were wrong and not me… It was EIGHT years ago, thankfully! But it feels more like fifteen. I would say a lot has changed, but also very little. I think I am much more efficient with where I put my energy and when, it is easy when you are a first time film maker to waste time in places that are unnecessary. I would say what hasn’t changed is my love of making films. I think that maybe has only gotten stronger.

Q: Let´s talk about the future. You are working on King Ivory, a movie based on real events about fentanilo, gangs… what can you tell us about this project?

A: Can’t tell you much, except that it’s the best thing I’ve written to date. Jeremy, my producer and I, are very excited about this one. A lot of research and first hand accounts.

Q: Also, we snooped around a little and found out you have other things in the making, a mini series about the rise and fall of Jim and Tammy Faye called Ministry of Greed. What can you tell us about this project?

We have a great pilot for that ready to go, but have been having too much fun making movies.

Q: And, lastly, what can you tell us about John Swab that makes you different and that you would like to transmit to us?

A: I like extra dressing on my Caesar salad, Martin… With lots of anchovies.

Thank you very much. It has been a real pleasure to interview you on Martin Cid Magazine. Congratulations for Little Dixie and all kinds of success for the future.

Thank you, we very much appreciate your support on this! I am sure we will be talking soon enough.


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