Q&A with Terry Green, writer/director of feature film “No God, No Master”
August 10, 2009
By Matthew Sliker
Scenes from the feature film No God, No Master, starring Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee David Strathairn, were shot at Bay View’s South Shore park July 28-29.
The film, which is set in New York, is the story of U.S. Bureau of Investigation agent William Flynn (played by Strathairn), who gets swept into the world of homegrown terrorism during the Red Scare of the early 1900s.
“His journey into the culture of anarchism sets the stage for a timely drama with resounding parallels to the politics and issues of contemporary society,” producers said in a press release. “This action-driven feature film is the story of one man’s odyssey into a universe of power, greed and corruption, forcing him to confront the very principles and values that make him an American.”
Writer and director Terry Green sat down with the Compass to discuss his film as crews prepared to shoot a scene outside the South Shore pavilion.
Bay View Compass: Why did you decide to make your movie in Milwaukee?
Terry Green: Well, I’m from Chicago. And I’ve been to Milwaukee a lot, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to take advantage of making a movie close to home. And economically it made a lot more sense than staying in Chicago. This is a much more manageable city. You’ve got everything here. And we’ve been all over this city—over 40 locations.
BVC: How will the South Shore Park pavilion be used in the film?
TG: This building, for our story, represents a place in New York, in the Battery, called Castle Clinton—which is where all of the immigrants were processed. And, in this case, it’s about the reverse process of that. Mitchell Palmer, the Attorney General of the United States during the Red Scare of 1919, decided to stage a series of mass arrests around the country. And we’re, of course, doubling this for New York. So he arrested suspected radicals. Whether they’d been to meetings or received anarchist literature—it didn’t matter. He arrested all in all across the country, over 10,000 people. So we’re basically taking what is an immigration hall and flipping it, turning it into a deportation hall.
BVC: Your crews are setting up out front right now… what’s that specific scene going to be?
TG: This is just the entrance where David Strathairn’s character, William Flynn, and his partner, a young Italian American played by Sam Witwer, are coming to this place for the first time, for a scene we just shot this morning—which was to meet a character by the name of Frederic Howe, the director of immigration for the port of New York. They just discovered that a bomb—a package that was on Mr. Howe’s doorstep—was stolen by two kids on a bike. And it blew up and killed one of the kids. So that lead them to this place right here.
BVC: Can you tell us a little more about the story?
TG: The detective, played by David Strathairn, has been sent on the trail of these anarchists, who are sending bombs through the mail and putting them on the doorsteps of some very prominent people. He’s been sent by his government to find out who these people are, and begins to realize that maybe the government has an agenda. We’re trying to do everything we can to mirror modern politics and contemporary events. And this represents an overreach of government, the disintegration of civil liberties, freedom of speech issues, etc.
BVC: As the writer of the film’s screenplay, what was the pre-production process like?
TG: Well, this one took about two or three years to put together from a writing and fund raising standpoint. My company raises all the money, and when we get enough money, we make the movie. This is my third movie—my second with David Strathairn. And like any independent film, you’re doing it as fast as you can. I mean, this is a 24-day shoot and it should be a 40-day shoot. So we’re in a mad rush all the time.
BVC: You started production on July 20… what’s the schedule like for the rest of your time here?
TG: Well, we’re here through the middle of August. We’re going to be at city hall on Thursday—outside and indoors. And we’re also going to be shooting on what we now call the Pabst Brewery “back lot,” which serves as kind of a warehouse district for us and also a couple of interiors that serve as secret meeting places for these anarchists.
- To view more photos from the film shoot, click here.
- To visit the film’s official website, click here.
- Contact Matt Sliker here.
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