Doron Paz and his brother, Yoav, set out this year to make a film about the mythological golem. Doron, who fondly calls it the “Jewish Frankenstein,” wanted to give it a proper movie, one that captures the darkness of it. And that they did, creating a moving, and breathtaking film that is easily one of my favorites of this year. Due to a mix-up with the time zones, Yoav was unable to join our conversation, but that’s okay. Instead, Doron and I talked about The Golem and its inspiration, working with family, and of course, horror movies.
PopHorror: What inspired you and your brother to make The Golem?
Doron Paz: Well, first of all, the mythology itself, the golem mythology. We always liked the dark side, the more edgy stuff. We don’t like the regular softcore dramas. And there was this golem mythology, the Jewish Frankenstein for us, which nobody really dealt with it for almost 100 years. You saw it in TV episodes and things like that. I think one of the first horror movies ever made was The Golem from Prague, a silent horror movie that was ninety-something years ago. And we always thought to ourselves, “How come nobody has dealt with this golem properly?” So that was the first reason. The second reason was that we loved the story because it’s a dark drama, a very emotional drama about a woman who lost her baby or her kid, and deals with creating life in such a mystical mythology, and we loved that.
PopHorror: I have to admit that, before watching this film, I had never heard of it before. I’m always open to learning new things and found this pretty interesting. With you working as a team with your brother, what is it like to work with family and to have a partnership?
Doron Paz: We come from a family of filmmakers. Our father is a filmmaker and our grandfather was a theater director, so we grew up on sets, and we didn’t have a lot of choice. We had to be filmmakers, and to work together with him is actually quite great. We have our differences and different opinions, and we fight and we argue, but you know, he’s my brother. I’ll stuck with him! (laughs) So, I think it’s good for the process, also. Arguing and protecting your ideas is a good process for filmmakers. If you can, it’s a good struggle. If we don’t agree on something, then we find a third way to agree on it. So, most of the time, it’s a very good, healthy process. We have only one rule… that only one of us speaks to all of the actors on set. It’s a very delicate process, and so we don’t want to give cross directions. One is taking the steps forward to talk to the actors, and the other is taking the steps backwards to talk to the technical crew. But we do everything together. We write together and we direct together. It’s not like there’s a separation of one is writing and one is directing. We do it together. I guess the fact that we’re brothers helps the process.
PopHorror: It sounds like you guys are very organized to help it all go smoothly.
Doron Paz: Yes, smoothly… Filmmaking is never smooth (laughs), but it’s smoother than others, I can imagine. Plus, it’s more easy. Doing an indie movie is such a battle, such hard work, so when you’re two, it’s more power. It’s better.
PopHorror: With it being set in 1673, was it difficult to research and remain as accurate as possible?
Doron Paz: Yeah, it was very difficult. It’s the first period movie we did, and we were blessed. We shot the movie in the Ukraine, not in Israel, and we were blessed with an amazing technical crew. They were so amazing… the make-up artists and costume designers. They’re so methodical. They did amazing research and helped the art director. Together with them, we did such amazing research to build this Jewish legend. We wanted to do a Jewish western, so for us, it was very amazing, very hard work to build this world. And we wanted it to be like a Jewish legend fantasy horror, in a way. So yeah, it was quite hard work, but we had an amazing crew. The Ukrainian crew was really amazing.
PopHorror: I loved that little village that was created, where they were living.
Doron Paz: It’s called the shtetl. It’s like a Jewish old town, a Jewish old village. It’s called a shtetl in Yiddish.
PopHorror: I loved the detail in it. I figured it couldn’t have been that easy to do that.
Doron Paz: No, it wasn’t. The funny story behind it is we were looking for a shtetl, or a village, and our producer, Shalom (Eisenbach), who knows the Ukraine and shoots a lot in the Ukraine, told us, “You’ve got to come see this film studio.” They built it for the Russians for a TV show, a 300 episode TV show. But since the war was going on with the Ukraine and Russia, nobody shoots there anymore. We came to see it, and it was amazing. In the middle of the field was the quietest place ever. Such a quiet place in the amazing wilderness stands this film studio with make-up rooms and production rooms in this set outside. It was all just there. Obviously, we built a lot behind it and to surround it, and we helped it with props and dressing and stuff, but the basics were there, deserted in the middle of the field. For us, it was amazing to find it.
PopHorror: That worked out perfectly. How long did filming take?
Doron Paz: We shot for a month and half in the Ukraine. It was very hard and very rough shooting, but it was also an amazing experience. The only problem is we don’t speak Russian, or Ukrainian, and they don’t speak English. So we always used translators, and we brought a first AD from Israel who knows Russian, so he translated to all of the team for us. So the language barrier was very difficult, but on the other hand, they were such an amazing crew. It took a few days, but we worked perfectly from there.
PopHorror: Oh, nice! It’s always good how things work out that way. You said growing up that you were always on sets and had to go into film. If you weren’t making movies, what would you have chosen to do instead?
Doron Paz: Wow, good question! I think Yoav would answer that he wouldn’t have any other choice. Me, I tried to escape it. I went to business school… I was a musician for a lot of years. But Yoav, for as long as I can remember, he wanted to make films, to make movies. Me, I think if I wasn’t making movies, I’d compose music for movies. Music is my first love, and I’m really passionate about it. For years, I dreamt about being a composer for movies, but then I ended up being on the other side as a director. Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll score one of our movies.
PopHorror: That’s what I was just going to say! What about scoring your own film then?
Doron Paz: Since I’m not into composing for the last 15 years, I don’t know if I’d be capable to do it. But who knows? Maybe I will.
PopHorror: It could surprise you! Can you tell us anything that you guys are working on now and have coming up next?
Doron Paz: Yeah! We’re working on our next feature film. We’re doing a sequel to our film, Jerzalem. We don’t have a date yet, but we’re writing it. And our next feature film is called Plan A. It’s a historical thriller and a true story, like The Inglorious Basterds, but the true story. It’s about a group of Holocaust survivors in 1945 after the WWII, who stayed in Europe and tried to kill six million Germans. It’s a crazy, crazy story, and hopefully we’re going to shoot by mid-2019. I’m really excited for it.
PopHorror: And one last question. What’s your favorite scary movie?
Doron Paz: Oh, wow! Good question! There are so many. I just saw Suspiria, the new one.
PopHorror: Oh! I’m seeing it tomorrow in an advanced screening.
Doron Paz: Wow! You are in for a ride! It’s crazy, crazy, crazy. It’s such a good movie. It’s a ride. It’s amazing. You’re going to love it. For me, it was a very scary movie, and a very impressive movie.