After a long break from feature films, director Uwe Boll is back and ready to roll with his latest project, a crime drama about two mismatched New York City cops on their first day as partners.
“First Shift” stars Kristen Renton (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Gino Anthony Pesi (“Shades of Blue”) as the badge-carrying duo, she a transplant from Atlanta new to the Big Apple, he a jaded Brooklyn cop who prefers to work alone but forced to take on the new partner.
Set to start shooting in New York City next month, “First Shift” has moved ahead of two other projects Boll has in the works, a South Africa-set thriller and a feature about Prohibition-era federal agent Eliot Ness — famously played by Kevin Costner and Robert Stack in the 1987 film and the 1959 series “The Untouchables” — during the latter part of his career.
Produced by Boll’s L.A. and Vancouver-based Event Film, “First Shift” follows the two cops as their first day as partners is turned upside down by personal tragedy and a mob killing. While heartbreaking and brutal, the hard-hitting crime drama is also interspersed with a bit of humor as the two very different partners learn to trust each other.
Praising Renton and Pesi, Boll stresses the two actors have been “very involved in their character development,” something he has also encouraged actors to do in his previous films.
The German director is working with regular DP Mathias Neumann and a largely U.S. crew, including line producer Ari Taub and editor Ethan Maniquis (“Machete,” “Grindhouse”). Michael Roesch is executive producing.
Boll has pushed back his previously announced “12 Hours,” which he may still shoot as soon as November if he can assemble a cast.
The thriller centers on a man who is blackmailed into killing five individuals after his family is kidnapped and threatened with death if he fails to comply.
Also in the works is the Eliot Ness project. Boll has actually sought to pitch it to Costner as a kind of sequel to “The Untouchables.”
He points out that Ness’ final case was that of the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run in Cleveland — also known as the Cleveland Torso Murderer — in the mid-1930s.
Boll was initially informed by Costner’s reps that the actor was too busy with “Yellowstone,” but that could change if reports of his impending exit from the series are true, he adds.
“I think it would be a hit. I love ‘The Untouchables.’ It would be great.”
In addition to the feature film projects, Boll is developing “Where Wolves Walk,” a gritty, eight-part crime drama that follows a female detective investigating cases of missing children.
“It’s like ‘Seven’ meets ‘Mare of Easttown,’” says Boll. “It’s dark. It would be a binge watcher. I hope to maybe do it next year. We need to find the right actress too.”
Boll, who began his career in the early 1990s, has made nearly three dozen films, among them such genre-spanning, action-laden works as “BloodRayne,” “Postal,” “Tunnel Rats,” “Far Cry,” “Stoic” and “Assault on Wall Street.”
His return to film follows a hiatus of several years that began after he completed his last major pic, 2016’s “Rampage: President Down,” the third installment in his “Rampage” franchise about a mass-murdering terrorist.
It was a break that allowed Boll to retool his own filmmaking business following the dissolution of the DVD and home video industry and the rise of streaming services, he says.
“The streamers replaced Blockbuster and everything that really made money in the past.”
Although he made the small German direct-to-video production “Hanau,” based the real-life 2019 terror attack, in 2021, Boll says “First Shift” marks his first “real movie” since returning to filmmaking.
The proliferation of streamers has improved the market for filmmakers, he adds, noting that the time is right to start producing content more tailored for major streamers like Netflix, Paramount Plus and Amazon.
Roesch, Boll’s producing partner and head of German distributor Kinostar Filmverleih, adds that Boll’s films had sold more on the basis of his name recognition than that of the actors in his films.
Boll’s adds that many of his previous films, most of them handled by Munich-based world sales company Palatin Media, continue to be relicensed and are finding new audiences on streamers.
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