Interview: Boaz Yakin, Director of Death in Love

08/16/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

It's hard to make a film when you're depressed -- which is what kept writer-director Boaz Yakin away from filmmaking for the past five or six years.

Now he's back with a movie that reflects the psychological state he was battling -- and the reasons he was battling it.

The director of Fresh and Remember the Titans, Yakin put his own money into Death in Love, which opens Friday in limited release. That was the only way, he says, that he would ever get it made.

"This movie came out of a meeting with a studio," says Yakin, 43, in a telephone interview. "What they wanted to do and what I wanted to do were so far apart, I didn't feel I could continue. So I wrote this for a low-budget production. I ended up financing it with my life savings. No one else chipped in a cent. It's not the kind of thing I can afford to do often. But for this one time, I got to express what I wanted to in a way I found interesting. I feel I got to explore and try some things."

Death in Love, which stars Jacqueline Bisset, Josh Lucas and Adam Brody, ostensibly is about the family of a Holocaust survivor (Bisset), who used sex to save her own life in the concentration camp. Her withholding personality has damaged her sons, particularly Lucas, a con man who is disgusted with his scam of luring customers to a fake modeling agency.

The story, Yakin says, is fiction -- but the feelings it portrays are real. And that's about as far as he'll go.

"It sounds glib but it's truthful: This movie comes from the last 43 years of my life," he says. "One hesitates to answer specific questions on the grounds of incrimination. It's a fantasy based on emotional truth. Pardon me if that sounds evasive.

"For me, the Holocaust part and what it represents is specific. I saw it as a symbol for a certain kind of pain and violence that people keep inside and end up passing on from generation to generation. I saw it as more about love and its destructive power. The Holocaust is a metaphor for this recurring cycle of pain."

The film also deals with issues that Yakin takes seriously: art vs. commerce, when one's soul is on the line. The central figure is a grifter who could actually teach acting, if he weren't doing it to scam people. The character, Yakin admits, could just as easily have been written as a filmmaker.

"But I didn't want to make this a film about a filmmaker. That's self-indulgent. This is about the whole idea of somebody who has a talent and uses it in a completely cynical, unproductive way. It's a metaphor for how I feel about working in the film business. You feel like a con man, selling phony emotions and ideas. It's sort of corrupt, like advertising."

The film features Lucas in situations as sexually explicit as an R rating will allow. But Yakin says Lucas was game for anything -- more daring, in fact, than the director.

For the rest of this interview, click here to reach my website: