Since filming for Attrition started I have been in close contact with director Mathieu Weschler. A very nice person and I am really thankfull to him that he wanted to do an interview exclusively for our site! He is from France, so he tried to give his best English.
Here we go!
Can you tell something about yourself? How did you become
involved in the movie business?
Hello, I'm Mathieu Weschler, I'm french from old town Bergerac in
Dordogne, 37 years old and living in Paris right now. I've always been
fond of movies, especially Hong Kong when I was kid. My mother,
who is a cinephile, used to bring us a lot to the movie theater so I guess
this passion came from this. I remember in College, I did movies with
my friends, with an old HI-8 camera, that were very bloody. We put
firecrackers on us, directly on shitty shirts, to do blood impact. We
had a lof of fun. I even remember having shot the robin hood
opening in a teddy bear version, for a puppet movie I never finished. I
draw robin hood pictures with animals, put in on the wall, and move
the camera from a drawing to another one haha.
The first Seagal movie I saw in a theater was On Deadly Ground, I was 14
years old ! I never tought I would do a movie with him one day.
I spend my first three years at university studying Geography in
Bordeaux, but with my friends, we kept filming home made movies.
We did many shorts and three feature lenght. My first feature
was a thriller with fights, my second, called « youth of the nation »,
was a mix between True Romance and teenager movies...So during
these years, we experienced making movies, how to do a camera
movement and why doing a close up. That was a good
experience. Around these years, a French movie was released :
Brotherhood of the wolves directed by Christophe Gans. We
loved him since Crying Freeman, and he was directing HK VHS
movies too. Without him, I would have never dived into HK passion. So
Christophe Gans was in Bordeaux for the premiere and with my
friends, we went to watch the movie and listen to him. At the end, we
run to catch him, we asked if we could have a drink. He couldn't but
he proposed us to come by his hotel the next day. He offered us a
breakfast. That was so nice. This day we were so excited...I
stopped going to Geography and just went to cinema studies for three
A link to one of my first short movie lol, « Poursuite » (the chase) :
After graduation, I left Bordeaux to Paris...at first I did many work, like
transcriptions. I was typing everything that was said in
documentary rushes DVD to word file...long work...In 2006, a
producer saw one of my short I did in Bordeaux and proposed me to
do a commercial. After this I did many, for different brand, TV and
net. I even shot making off's, I worked too as a script reader for
First you made a short movie and after that The Borderland.
How was your experience working on that movie?
I made several short movies, but a few are online now. You can watch Black
Shadow here, my real first incursion in martial arts :
During this short, I met Seydina Balde, an actor, former karate champion.
Years after I did a short movie called Timing with him:
Then we did together The Borderland/Covert operation.
How did you get involved in the making of Attrition?
I was in Bordeaux, mid-may 2017, when one of the first producers of
the movie, Bey Logan, send me the script. I read it...I think there were some cool
moments but it needed polish. After a few days, I received a call from
Bey and Steven Seagal, telling me that he loved Covert
Operation. He loved the cinematography, filming, lights...At first I thought it
was a joke. Someone doing an impersonation of Steven...but no.
They asked me if I was free. I was, so less than a week later I was in
Did you get to choose your own filmcrew?
I could bring with me Vincent Vieillard Baron which is a
friend, a crazy good DP, and we did Covert Operation in
China together. The other crew was brought by local
production, Benetone, where I met my Thai and American
first AD, props, sets, camera etc...The action team was
brought by Bey Logan. They put a lot of time in
rehearsing of the choregraphy, and I was hooked!
They were so good, both in movements,
acting and choosing angles. We had to change a lot of fights
before production and during, but they were great. I was in full
trust with them, I didn't have to worry about angles or vibes,
they are HK film fans, they shot like HK stars. They know
the Corey Yuen, Yuen Wo Ping style, the Jackie Chan clear
shot etc...We had a really good collaboration. I'm sad we
didn't have more time for training, and for
shooting. The schedule was very very tight. Philippe Martinez brought
the production director, Luc Campeau. H brought post
production director Lisa Gabriel, and script supervisor Claudine
Strasser that did big movies like The Bourne Identity,
Snake Eyes and Blade 2! . They were so good. I
was so happy to have them to help me. One example :
before we shot the fight in Axe's house, along a river,
there was a water flood and the river level was
increasing. Instead of changing the set, Luc had an idea. He
build a wooden platform, exactly shape and color, so we
can do the fight on it. So during this Steven VS Louis train
fight, there is water under them haha. Overall, I had a great
team. Sometimes we spoke too much French.The Thai
crew was amazing too. Beautiful set and the artistic director
was so good. It was a pleasure to see his drawings, so
were props, wardrobe. The camera crew was the best I've
seen...so quick and efficient...
How was is to work with Steven Seagal on set? I mean,
there are some rumours that he is not easy to work with and
has a big ego. Was he dedicated to the project this time?
Steven was very dedicated. He was very present. He used
less doubles than usual. He wanted to stay on set. I often
made him do several takes, not just one and cut. Sometimes
more than 5 and he didn't complain too much. He was
smiling in his acting and had quite a good reception when I
told him some small directions.
Some days were fun, some other weren't. There is a lot of
stress, because I had 27 days. We had many fights, dialogues, many
sets and locations. That was a sport. I lost 10 kilos.
I remember we didn't agree on some sequences on the
scenario. The way he wanted them was sometimes not my
wish We disagreed on wardrobe too. That's not a surprise.
I knew i would have to fight for some ideas, but for every
young director it's the same in making commercials or movies.
Some sequences were re-written during shooting, or new
added. So I didn't have enough time to prep them. I think
time is your best friend, but time is money, and every actor
has a schedule that isn't extendable.
Steven can be very nice, quite fun, smiling and joking, but
he can be completely grumpy too. The weather was very hot.
A hard time to shoot outside. I can understand. We
tried to bond together. During the pre-production, we went
to see Wonder Woman in a movie theater in Bangkok That
was cool. I remember, Steven was laughing sometimes, or
talking loud, and some spectator turned around. They saw
Steven and maybe they thought: fuck it's Steven Seagal, I
shouldn't tell him to talk lower lol. Steven called me « la
vieille », in French. But you should say « mon vieux ».
It means: how are you mon vieux, like old pal, my friend.
On the set, he sometimes was speaking a few French words
to Vincent and me. And finished his sentences with « ok c'est
bon », that means « ok good ».
So...I think I should keep the good moments, but of course,
some days, I wanted to run as far as possible. But every
day, we managed to finish what we wanted. It's my second movie,
Steven made 60. He wrote and produce this one...
Did you have enough influence during the filming? Were
you free to use your own vision?
Of course it wasn't always easy, but when Steven wasn't
on set, he would let me do what I wanted.
For example, he never said "don't do a long shot
sequence for Louis Fan in his club". He didn't say "don't
do your reverse sequence". He didn't interfere in making
some sets, like Qmom's room. So for this sequence I'm quite
happy. Even when I didn't like some sequences,
I always did my best to make them beautiful, with nice shots.
I remember the day we shot Louis Fan, Steven and the
old Kung Fu master. Steven was really happy. But Louis
came to me and asked me if we could add more orange on the
light. Because full blue was a sign of death, too much death
in his culture. So we added some candles and an orange tone.
Vincent wasn't so happy haha...but I understand because
the Kung Fu master was Louis' real father.
What everyone is always talking about is Seagal's
fightscenes. Did he do them all by himself and did he
Steven did a lot, especially on Qmom's fight. He worked every
day with Can Haydins team on the choregraphy. He worked on what he
could do/want to and what he couldn't...Of course there are some
doubles sometimes. That's unavoidable.
What was the budget for Attrition and what was the most
difficult aspect of making this movie?
One of the most difficult aspects was the weather. It was very
hot, and wet. We were missing time and we couldn't do extra hours
every day because of the budget and crew. Having new
sequences and new dialogues added was hard. Because I like to
prepare every sequence in deep, making a shot list.
Sometimes I had to go after a 12 hours day for the day after
and I wasn't sure about quality. For example: I did shot the
sequence with the father coming to see Steven, the
callygraphy, and Steven's final speech at the table on the same
day. We only had four days to do all Qmom's sequences,
including the fight.
Can you shine a light on the making of a dtv movie? What
kind of problems are you up against when making these kind
I would say the same as I wrote before : time and money.
Sometimes I feel sad. People think that because it's DTV, it's
shit. It doesn't have a theater release ? It must be shit.
Not fair, I think.
Is there anything you would have done differently regarding
to making Attrition?
I wish I could have given more time for the fight and their
filming days. What they did is crazy. I wish I could spend
more time with actors, before shooting, doing more
I wouldn't have shot the club sequence the same way. We had a
different version in the previous script, more infiltration, with
a more elaborate plan, not only with bracelets, but tunnels and
fake delivery. But Steven didn't want this. I can understand
he was tired of this "mission impossible" vibe way of
entering the club. But now I feel it's too quick and easy on
I think we should have replaced the gunfight for swordfight or hand to
hand fight. I didn't have the time to do proper gunfight, even if I
love them in Hard Boiled for example. But it takes too much
time...and you don't have a second chance if explosives fail.
And I remember there were some problems with impacts that
day...so the sequence is better like it is today.
I wish I could do more moments, like the reverse sequence
or long shot sequence with Louis. I had a crazy shot in mind
during the club's last scene, with Steven going from one room to
another, fighting, in a long shot with a special angle. I like to
try new ways of shooting , like I did in my first movie.
There was a scene shot with a crane where I shot on several floors...
I'm very frustated with the sequence of the Muy Thai fight, (but
it's not Steven choice nor prod). We had to cut a lot because
of an external problem. And I was sad because we had real
fighters, crazy shots, a crane shot and many extras (150).
This sequence was opening with Louis Fan in a long sequence
shot, and was finishing with Black Claw Ma on the same
shot. But that's the way these movies work. For many
directors it's the same story. Do your best even if you know you
won't have the final cut. Today it's like meeting your kid after
long time no see. It's your kid yes, but he doesnt wear
the clothes I gave him...I know it's my kid, but...who gave
him this , and why is he speaking like this ? This metaphor is
strange but it's the way I feel...
Did you have some influence on the post-production of the
movie? Are you happy with the final product?
I'm happy with 75 %. I didn't have any influence after my
director's cut so I did the best I could with the editor,
Jordan, during my director's cut time (5 weeks). Jordan was
so good, he brought many ideas. And even if I wasn't there
for the production cut, I knew he was protecting many
sequences. I like music but i feel it over present.
I don't like CGI. For post produsction, I wouldn't have put so much
fake blood. I like on set effects. And I'm a bit frustrated
off the way some sequences turned out. But that's the law of
the genre. I miss the original muy thain sequence, my
opening was more dusty, in mist. I miss the jungle
sequence we did with a Steven (with a long beard) tired of this world.
He was great in it. I wouldn't have put in too much dreams.
As an artist, it's normal I guess to feel that way. But I
remember the good time. We laughed a lot, with Steven
and the crew. I remember we did lots of funny meals. We
talked about movies, stories, everything. I sang « shaolin
soccer » songs with Louis Fan. I had a fit of laugher
because with Steven we watched a French fake farter
named mizou mizou...
How big is Seagal's influence during filming and postproduction?
During the filming he has influence on the way he
acts, on the dialogues and on the vibe. He wrote, produced and
lead acted so...it's not a surprise. You know what you sign
for. His post-production influence was the largest. He
wanted the movie to embrace years of Kung fu, with some
hommage too ( Grandmaster, Ip-man, Stephen Chow kung
fu hustle...), I tried to fit in his will, and also tried to maintain what I liked.
Who are your dream actors or stars you would like to work
with in the future?
I would love to work with Hong Kong legends such as
Chow Yun Fat, Tony Leung and all the cast from The
Mission ...I'd love to work in Japan with
Takeshi Kitano and his crew...I love Asia. I wish I could do
an Expendables movie too, haha. That would be the perfect way to
make a movie with all the people I like. As a kid, I was
dying to see Predator, Die Hard and all Mc Tiernan's movies. I was
fond on I Come In Peace with Dolph (if he wants to do
a sequel I'd love to hehe) I love Knock Off with Van
Damme too...I love Schwarzy etc...When I was a kid at a good
night, these movies were treated as A movies They were in theaters and
on TV. I saw them on major french TV channels, today no more....
...Or maybe a deep cable channel and at midnight...I miss
that good old time.
What are your plans for the future? Any projects you are
I'd love to make a new Hard Boiled, not a remake of
course. This is a classic and a remake would be shit, but I mean a
thriller with crazy gunfights.
I'm working on the Trashmaster feature film version. You
can see the original one as a deluxe animatic storyboard.
But now, I want the action to take place in Hong Kong. It
handles about a garbage man at day, vigilante at night. I
studied a lot of hong kong street and garbage way of doing,
It's a very interesting subject. I could bring at least a movie
that is 100 % me.