Director on "My Friend Dahmer," Filming in Northeast Ohio
The story of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s teenage years in Northeast Ohio is the focus of a new film that opens here next week. “My Friend Dahmer” is based on the internationally-acclaimed best-seller by John Backderf, better known locally as “Derf”. The movie was shot on locations in Cleveland and suburban Akron, last year. While in town, director Marc Meyers spoke about the experience of adapting Backderf’s book, which he described as a "courtship."
“I pleaded with him in one way or the other about why I would love to adapt the book,” he said.
After writing a first draft of the script, Marc Meyers paid a visit to Northeast Ohio. “I stayed with [Backderf] in October of 2012 for a couple days,” said Meyers. “He drove me around where he grew up, showed me the Dahmer house, we walked around the house together and it helped inform my rewrite.”
Meyers added that the visual style of the film owes a lot to Backderf’s inspiration. “I started tearing apart a copy of the graphic novel and using those visuals as a collage to storyboard my way through the entire book,” he said.
The filmmaker notes that Backderf made a number of visits to the movie set. “He sat with the actor who's playing Derf. I think he was a little creeped out by the actor playing Jeffrey Dahmer and at one point told him ‘please take your glasses off, I can't have this conversation with you.’”
Backderf warned Meyers that there are critics who see “My Friend Dahmer” as a sympathetic story about a notorious serial killer. Meyers said it goes much deeper than that.
“The story is about understanding in a much more compassionate or empathetic way a troubled kid’s life before he became a monster, to maybe help understand people who have fallen by the wayside, that have become outliers. How did they get there?”