Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life and your living?
Being primarily a photographer, I’ve been asked many times if I could direct a short commercial movie’s for my clients. Every single time, I rejected this idea as I always considered Cinema as a completely different medium, but over the years I’ve started looking at filmmaking as a natural extension of photography. The lines between still and motion picture photography, that I’ve had artificially separated for so long, started to blur. At some point, I’ve noticed that photography wasn’t necessarily meant to stand alone anymore, but is instead allowed to depend on it’s close neighbors. The biggest paradox of photography—the thing that makes it so special—is its ability to show how things look at a particular moment with startling precision, while at the same time offering no more than a particular, finite window. A single picture may not make any sense by itself, rather it is only in the context of others that it becomes meaningful. And this was the pivotal point for me when I finally grabbed the camera and started filming.
Was this transition difficult or was it a more natural process? What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
Actually, at the end of the day, I was surprised to see how natural this transition has become to me. The key to being a filmmaker could be summed up in five words: ” It’s all about the story” This is because fashion and commercial photography are about capturing a perfect moment while filmmaking is about telling a story through sequences. The key here is to never forget the story and how each sequence should advance the story or add to it in some way. Some sequences are better captured on film than photography as they let you explore and give more freedom. As a director or camera operator, the way you uniquely see the world is important to how you shoot. This means the way you see, what details you pay attention to, the colors you like, the people and subjects you are drawn to, etc. This is what makes you different from other filmmakers and, ultimately, is what gets you hired. Even the narrative films that break away from convention are subject to the idea that every image and every sound needs to be in service of the story and the characters. You know you got it when the final effect worked and the film really resonated with audiences.
Who are your favorite directors? What inspires you ?
What I like most about filmmaking is its versatility. No film is perfect. There will always be films to enjoy and to learn from. Being surrounded by the world of fashion photography I really liked the directorial debut from American designer Tom Ford. Watching how he went from designer to director was an interesting eye–opening experience. In my opinion, that’s what makes filmmakers such as Tom Ford so successful and prevalent today. As someone with a rich background in fine art and design, Ford has forged a unique style and perspective that has allowed him to take the narrative filmmaking world by storm with his two features. No one is making films like him, and that can be at least partly attributed to his early career as a designer. Despite him having only made two films, he already set his standard of meaningful style in his cinematic works and I am excited to see his future endeavors.
Do you think artists have any responsibility to culture ? Do you feel that being a creative person requires that you give back or tell a particular story or not do something Else ? Why or why not ?
I think that the relationship between artists, filmmakers, photographers, creators, and culture involves a complicated dynamic. For example, while American movies certainly influence the mass culture that consumes them, they are also an integral part of that culture, a product of it, and therefore a reflection of prevailing concerns, attitudes, and beliefs. Not only do Hollywood films reflect certain commonly held attitudes and beliefs about what it means to be American, but they also portray contemporary trends, issues, and events, and what is most important is that they are serving as records of the eras in which they were produced. I think that filmmaking’s relationship with culture could be characterized as essential to a culture’s identity, and to its sense of right and wrong. Art is essential to a culture’s sense of taste, its sense of what is good or bad, its sense of sensuality, beauty, spirituality. Art reflects a culture’s sense of self–worth. A culture’s humanity is connected to its artistic freedoms.
What are the key elements of film? What advice would you give to a young film makers ?
There is a lot of advice that could be given to anyone who is just starting out however there is one thing I’d love to point out, which is: You should always try to push yourself to the limit. Every film you make should teach you something you didn’t know before, and achieve something you didn’t know you were capable of. This doesn’t mean you have to go out every time and do something that you have no idea how to do. You should pick on the skills and techniques you’ve already familiar with but if you’re not building on them, if you’re not pushing yourself further in some way, you’re playing it safe. It will show in your work. I would’ve argued that limitations are your friend, but the types of restrictions that really get in the way are the ones that you let get stuck inside your own head. This also leads to another thing worth remembering is the famous Hollywood quote “nobody knows anything”. That doesn’t mean you should ignore everything anyone tells you, but if you’re really passionate about a project, don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Make the film that you want to make—not the film you think people want to see. Most of all, don’t listen to people who say that you can’t do something, or that what you’re aiming for isn’t possible. Who says films have to cost a certain amount, look a certain way, be made a certain way, or contain this element or that one?
You live in Los Angeles , how do you find yourself in the heart of cinema, are you working on a new project at the moment or are you planning to ?
There is no doubt that Hollywood is the center of the film industry. Moving from Europe to Los Angeles, gave me plenty of opportunities to meet new people and make some really interesting connections. I am really happy that at some point my short commercials started to gain a lot of traction as this has opened a lot of possibilities however as much as I love working on commercials I am still turning my head into the Experimental film genre. The next big step is my solo exhibition here in LA featuring my newest conceptual art video piece mixed with large format photography. The whole project is an abstract interpretation of a bold fetishized look into how we view and explore the complex darkness of human sexuality. This project excites me as it defies the conventions of traditional art exhibition forms. It inherently takes some of the most expressive elements from artistic mediums like cinema, photography, art installations and combines them into one plane.