Interview: San Diego-Based Liberty Studios Filmmakers
‘Walking With The Enemy’ Marks Indie Company’s Debut
Friday, April 25, 2014
Credit: Liberty Studios
KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando speak with San Diego-based filmmaker Mark Schmidt.
This weekend audiences can show their support for a film produced by the San Diego based Liberty Studios. Local filmmakers Mark Schmidt and Randy Williams talk about “Walking with the Enemy” (opening April 25 in select San Diego theaters).
Mark Schmidt and Randy Williams don't look like filmmakers. Dressed in suits and ties, they look more like businessmen. And they are. They both have careers in real estate development but got the urge to make movies in order to tell good stories. So Schmidt started taking weekend classes at UCLA to learn more about film. But working in real estate and graduating from SDSU with a business degree gave him a grasp on the financial side of filmmaking that most starting filmmakers struggle with all too painfully.
Schmidt started Liberty Studios here in San Diego to produce films, and "Walking With The Enemy" is the debut project.
There is no shortage of World War II films set in Germany but with "Walking With The Enemy," Schimdt wanted to focus his attention on one set in Hungary and on the true story of Pinchas Tibor Rosenbaum, a rabbi’s son who disguised himself as an SS officer in order to save Jews. Schmidt says he felt the world needed more inspirational true stories like this.
"I enjoy history and I came across this story and wanted to get this out to the world," Schmidt said, "the person that went out, risked his life to save people. He dresses up as an SS officer, he puts his life on the line, he’s got no government, no army behind him, just him and a few friends. It’s just an incredible story. He pretty much adapted to the environment that was there when the Germans came in and invaded Hungary. Our country, our relatives didn’t have to experience all this terror that they went through. We’re lucky in this country to never experience anything like that."
"Schindler's List" (1993)
"Divided We Fall" (2000)
"Sophie Scholl" (2005)
Set in Hungary during the final months of World War II, the film serves up a fictionalized biography of Rosenbaum and does a fine job of depicting the period.
"We were in several countries looking for locations and we think we found the best locations to really give that period feel," Schmidt said. "We wanted everything as authentic and true to history — and having people from the time see the film, they say we’re right on. People that were survivors in Budapest and from Hungary that have seen the film, they feel everything is correct. We had them watch it while we were filming some scenes they said we were, everything is correct. It’s the way they experienced it."
"Walking With The Enemy" also harkens back to the films of that time period — studio features that emphasized strong narratives, straightforward storytelling and unassuming heroes.
Williams is one of the film's producers and he too felt driven to tell Rosenbaum's story.
"The pay off on that is seeing the response from people when they see a film and enjoy it," Williams said. "And hopefully with this one they will be inspired to overcome their challenges in the same way that our lead character does in the film. That’s what we are hoping to do and preserve a little bit of history along the way."
"Walking With The Enemy" not only preserves history but exposes American audiences to a story they may not be at all familiar with. It's a noteworthy debut for Schmidt and his Liberty Studios.
"Walking With The Enemy" is rated PG-13 for war violence including crimes against humanity. Here is the trailer.
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