Is he now a film director with project funding background or is he writing articles? So what then? Both! Things were never linear and clearly defined for me. Rather always multi, and so is this online publication. Just as a good book always has a foreword, I thought it couldn’t hurt here either.
Sometimes life is not linear, but makes jumps. This is exactly what happened to me. Not only professionally but also geographically.
Born in Germany, then I grew up in Brazil, returned to Bavaria, and finally moved to Israel. The languages were in tow.
Professionally, things were more complicated. The job – the word alone is actually self-explanatory: you do something you feel called to do. Yes, “feels”, because there is no instruction manual for life. It is not written anywhere. One describes oneself with time.
Can anyone else remember my mechanical engineering studies? Exactly. I dropped out after two years! Then a trip to Rome and two days of trial studies in Cinema. Then my dad died with a big hole. Finally, I studied business administration and worked as a management consultant in Israel, which was very exciting. Then in 2017 divorce and another big hole. Now serious restart. Just right for the midlife crisis – probably. So meditation and much reflection to finally get on the track of the p-r-o-f-e-s-s-i-o-n. So I rewound (Rewind, the two arrows to the left on the media player) to the trial study in Rome. Then came the enlightenment! And the nagging question why it was only a trial study at that time?
Afterwards it turns out that although it seems to make life more difficult than you want it to be, the added value is higher than the circumstances you go through.
It all started with photography. Professional course in studio photography, numerous courses in video editing. Luckily I know a lot about photo sensors (through an engagement in a start-up at that time), so I know what happens to pixels and colours from the beginning and how they are processed. Very important to understand colour and light on a digital level. Because the main focus of a professional photography course is all the different types of lighting and their effects, it gave me a knowledge of light that – as it turns out – is very rare in the TV and film production industry. At least in Israel. The love for fine art photography and Photoshop compositions remained. I learn quickly – if I want to. After three years I have accumulated a lot of know-how.
Then at the beginning of the year came a few enlightening moments. First, a workshop of the Editors Guild (I am a member of it) with several editors (an “editor” in English is someone who cuts the film on the computer) who have all edited well-known series produced in Israel. Each of them has shown and commented on some of the clips he has edited. Then there was also someone who whistled at me from the side in the Wework in Tel Aviv (from where I work) one day later. As it turns out he was also at the workshop. He is a former film producer, an old hand. He immediately let off some air: “most directors are no good anyway”, and “Quentin Tarantino is the biggest loser, only copies from Sergio Leone”, and so on. Afterwards I started my own productions and made video clips in which I was responsible for lighting, camera and editing. I showed them around, because I wanted to know what the old hands thought of them. Positive feedback. A relief.
On to a bigger project. Now we are about one month before the Fashion Week Tel Aviv which should have taken place in March this year, but had to be cancelled due to Corona. This is important because I wanted to make a 30-minute documentary about “normal-weight” and “normal-looking” models who could have participated in the show for the first time. At first, nothing came of this film project. So on to the next idea.
But back to making films and writing. My path to becoming a director ran parallel to writing and editing. In the TV and cinema world, directors usually only deal with the artistic realisation of the script. A special category are directors who take over several functions and then they are called filmmakers.
Writing stories (i.e. the scripts and scripts) for films myself was important for me, because I have so many ideas I want to tell (link to the film page). I have several guardians: scriptwriter, director, editing.
I hate professional titles. director? Too narrow. Fortunately there is a term that describes my style and role very precisely: filmmaker. Exactly! I love that.
I want to give hope with my films. In contrast to the news where only negatives are delivered and you think the world will end tomorrow. But it’s up to all of us to build a better future, in which hopefully there will be no more material for negative reporting. That would be the ideal.
I see it as my task, as my call to illuminate social problems through documentary films and to find approaches for a solution. By doing so, I would like to provoke an exchange of ideas that will lead to a broader debate and thus help to overcome this case. In this way the film as a whole gets an optimistic basic tone and one leaves the film with positive thoughts.
Today’s documentaries only describe one situation, for example the pollution of the Pacific Ocean by plastic waste. No concrete solutions are shown or hinted at. The message is this: there is a problem, but nobody knows how to solve it. So you walk out of the film with the feeling that something should be done about it, but nobody has a clue what, so there is no solution and I am even more depressed than before. Because even if the Queen of England sees the film and nods her head, that doesn’t mean that something can be done about it tomorrow. Because possible decision makers, who hopefully will see the film, have no concrete solution on the table.
But there is no lack of such solutions. Exactly the people who are involved in the film are the ones who deal with the problems on a daily basis. In my opinion, they also have the best proposals for solutions. But you just have to ask them and then build it into the history of the film. Then the documentary film gets another dimension.
I also deal with such topics in my blog. Here I want to initiate ideas and suggest possible solutions even before anyone makes a film out of it. Sometimes I can take these as a concrete idea for a film and try to describe it as a plot, as the dramatic framework for a film.
So the question arises: well, if solving social problems is so important to him, why doesn’t he become a politician or try to solve them in some other way? In my case, the artistic track in the audiovisual field simply overlaps with the urge to use this medium in a constructive and elevating way for the common good. Also, facts and ideas can be presented more easily and memorably by means of stories, for example in a book, or even better as a film because of the additional visual component.
Anyone who studies directing at a film school makes their first film as their final thesis. This is so important because when an application is made for funding or financing for a project, previous work is always asked for. If you don’t have a film in your portfolio, you can’t set foot in the door of the industry. This is why the production of a first film is so important to me. This raises the question of how this is to be financed? There is often a special procedure for final theses in which students are granted a budget without a lot of bureaucracy. I cannot apply for such a procedure. And if I turn to the film funds, they can’t help me either, because I don’t have a first paper to show.
The three typical ways to finance a film can be summarised as follows: Film funds, TV (i.e. the public and private broadcasters) and studios (including Hollywood and today the various streaming services). In general but correctly described, studios only want to finance productions that can be proven to be profitable. The TV stations are similar, but they also have a rating and therefore most of the productions they finance are proven to be highly rated. I guess that these two do not necessarily support my topics.
With the film funds, on the other hand, you can actually find those who take risks and support innovative projects. But you can rarely choose the topic yourself, because they all have a certain agenda and strategy and are therefore looking for films in a certain field.
But because I have always had a mind of my own, I don’t make films that are dictated to me by others, but deal with topics that I think are important and should be realised. For this I need to find a budget for such productions in the long term, a channel that is independent of film funds, TV and studios.
Crowdfunding is ideal here. On the one hand, I’m looking for contact to the audience that is interested in my topics anyway. On the other hand, there is no need to charge large sums of money.
Money is earmarked for a specific action, for a specific project. The supporters receive something in return, a non-financial thank you that is structured differently depending on the project – for example a copy of the film or admission to the premiere. In artistic projects, the consideration often has idealistic or altruistic value. The communication between supporters and the borrower and the collection of the money is done via a platform on the internet. The borrower publishes an invitation to tender there, the supporters choose the amount of the contribution and their consideration and pay in the chosen amount.
Historical crowdfunding can be found as early as the 19th century. For example, the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty was made possible by 160,000 individual donations.
Here, for example, Germany was involved from the very beginning. Even before the founding of today’s leading platforms such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, I Germany had already supported films through crowdfunding. The road movie Hatschi Madame – Sorry Monsieur was financed in advance through the sale of tickets. The film Hotel Desire was financed at that time with donations of 175,000 Euros. As a further example, one million euros were collected in 2012 for the cinema film for the TV series Stromberg. Various cultural projects were also supported in the USA, including many music productions. Public Enemy, an established band, collected 75,000 Euros for a new album in 2010 through fans and supporters and described the experience in this way:
In our six months on SellaBand, we are proud to have broken ground into a new paradigm of music financing and to have learned so much about the fan funding model with our fans.
Many films about Indiegogo are still being funded internationally. Among them films like Code 8 which collected more than two million dollars in 2017 and after a cinema premiere in 2019 can now be seen on Netflix.
What I find exciting here is that a model is emerging (for the future) whereby cultural projects are supported by fans and by all those for whom the realisation of such projects is important for personal, idealistic or altruistic reasons.
If you are interested in interesting documentaries and you also think that there are still many unanswered questions and social problems that films should deal with, then we will stay in touch. Send me your email here so that I can inform you once a month about interesting articles I am writing and the topics relevant here. To stimulate discussion and thoughts is always important to me. That’s why there is also the possibility to write comments under each article. Your ideas and suggestions are always welcome.
As a goal for the production of documentaries I aim for one film per year. These should then be published at film festivals. Here I will always provide information about the film in advance and point out appropriate crowdfunding projects. In addition, there will be new photos, videos and updates on planned and ongoing productions on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter. If you use them, please follow me there, too. The more active, the better.
So let’s keep our fingers crossed. I dare to enter this new world, but I am confident that with your support there will be many more films that give hope.