Where are you based and how did you ﬁrst get into this line of work?
I’m currently based in Germany, but pretty much work wherever the job takes me.
I think I ﬁrst got into film-making when I was about 13 or 14 years old. At the time, I was immensely fascinated by all aspects of film-making, but visual eﬀects in particular. That’s why I tried to create my own Star Wars fan ﬁlm with some friends who I asked to act in. As you can imagine, I failed horribly. Having a blue-screen and VFX software just wasn’t enough to fully realise my vision.
However, I stuck with it and was very lucky to have supportive parents who somehow saw potential and encouraged me along the way. Soon after my failed attempts at remaking Star Wars I had the opportunity to create some corporate ﬁlms for small businesses. It was quite an interesting experience to be introduced to the business side of things this early, quickly realising that it’s not all art in the commercial realm of film-making, but actually a blend between art and commerce.
After ﬁnishing school, I studied Film and Animation. With a new love for the production side of things, I quickly started my own ﬁlm production company at the age of 22. Since then I’ve worked on numerous productions either as a director, DP, producer or all at once. Additionally, I’ve worked as a freelancer on some commercial productions that hired me as DP.
Besides my commercial projects, I always try to do passion projects that keep me motivated and allow me to try out new things. Often it’s these types of projects that get attention and push you forward as a ﬁlmmaker.
How did you get the Hookie Co. | Crafting Passion project?
As a rider myself, I knew Hookie Co. as a brand for about two to three years and closely followed their progression from small garage to a full-on custom shop. One day I reached out to them, asking if they would be interested in doing a ﬁlm together. They were quite open about it, so I drove to Dresden (where they’re based) and presented my overall vision for the ﬁlm and how it was going to be diﬀerent from a traditional corporate video.
When I returned, I created a treatment with detailed descriptions of the diﬀerent production aspects and also included a lot of visual references to convey the style I was aiming for. Nico, the founder of Hookie Co., really liked the concept and ﬁnally committed to the project. I’d like to stress that the entire project was incredibly collaborative and a real blessing as a ﬁlmmaker. They were so great to work with, really supportive and you could really feel the passion for their brand and the ﬁlm, for that matter.
What gear/cameras did you use and why?
We shot on the Red Helium 8K digital cinema camera along with Cooke anamorphics.
I actually own the RED, so I know its strengths and weaknesses, which is helpful during production and post-production, of course. It also allows me to shoot some tests beforehand and develop a look prior to the actual production. Since all modern sensors are incredibly sharp, I opted for the Cooke anamorphics to create a more organic looking image.
In fact, I’m a big fan of anamorphic lenses and their quirks like distortions, blurry edges and how they render the image in general. For me, it’s an incredibly pleasing look that reminds me of classic cinema and really supported our unique stylistic approach in this regard.
Lighting-wise I like to keep it simple and manageable by a small crew without compromising the image. Therefore, we mainly employed Kino Flos, a Joker Bug 800 with a large chimera softbox, and warm practicals to create some color contrast.
Did you plan out the story structure from the beginning or did it come out in post?
I’m a massive believer in pre-production. There’s nothing worse for me than appearing on-set not knowing how we’re going to light it, shoot it or how to stage the scene in general. For this reason, I planned out everything in advance as best as I could. This entails making a shot list, lighting diagrams and discussing the scenes with my crew. I’ve also included the guys from Hookie Co. in the process who also suggested some locations and knew what we needed and what we wanted to achieve.
What do you do differently from other filmmakers?
That’s a tough one to answer since they’re so many talented ﬁlmmakers out there. I don’t know if everyone is such a big ‘planner’ as I am. I’ve heard stories from other directors or DPs who aren’t so big on pre-production and make their decisions based on the day. If that works for them, great! It’s an interesting approach if you can do that. Of course, things won’t always go as planned and of course, you’ll have to improvise from time to time. Nevertheless, I like have a master plan in the ﬁrst place before embarking on a project. It’s something I can rely on, especially when I’m shooting and directing at the same time.
If you had to go back and do it all again, how would you get a foothold in the business?
When talking to fellow ﬁlmmakers, it quickly becomes clear that there’s not a formula or speciﬁc way to break into the business of film-making. To be honest, it’s a hard business and takes a long time and perseverance to get a foothold. Sometimes you get a lucky break, and sometimes you don’t. However, learning along the way and gaining experience from your mistakes is an invaluable part of the ﬁlmmaker journey. That’s why I wouldn’t do anything diﬀerent but stick to making as much passion projects as I possibly could. Even if some of them would fail.
What’s the one secret tip, go-to trick that you use often that takes your work to the next level?
I don’t know if there’s one secret tip. I think it all comes down to being prepared and communicating your vision. That’s why I spend most of my time perfecting the treatment, making shot lists, lighting diagrams and so on. Being prepared allows you to deviate on set and try out things since there’s always a plan you can rely on.
What has been the hardest part of doing what you do?
The hardest part is getting a project oﬀ the ground and making it happen. From writing a treatment to pitching and negotiating. There are so many steps to take before you ﬁnd yourself on-set. Even then, it could very well be that the ﬁlm you set out to make, isn’t actually the one you’re making. Fully realising your exact vision is often quite rare in the realm of commercial film-making since there’s typically an agency or client involved, meaning that there are other (creative) people who have a say in what you do and how you do it.
What is currently the best part of doing what you do?
I love that no project is the same. Every project brings its own set of challenges that you somehow have to overcome. Of course, we all like to rely on a particular formula to get the job done, but it gets interesting when you can try something new, experiment with things. Also, I simply love stepping on set and collaborating with like-minded, talented people who help expand your vision and bring something unique to the table. For me, that’s the most fun part of film-making.
What are some of your favourite stories or web videos that you’ve gotten inspired by?
There is not a particular story or web video that comes to mind. I tend to frequently visit Vimeo and see what my favourite ﬁlmmakers are doing.
Recently, I’ve become fascinated by the work of Ash Thorp, a director and designer who specialises in motion design projects. I love to watch work by fellow ﬁlmmakers who use their own set of unique skills like 3D or motion design to craft intriguing ﬁlms or motion pieces. For me, it’s essential to go beyond my own style and look for inspiration wherever possible, be it motion design or graphic design, for example. It helps to expand one’s horizon and not falling into the trap of basically doing the same ﬁlm over and over again.