Bootler"s Yearly Random (But Interesting) Fact

7-Up was origanally named Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Golden Bortons 2008 -- Interview #4: Dennis Zöllner


An interview with Dennis Zöllner, a.k.a. mr. limes, co-creator of No. 2.

Click here to see the film!


KS: What made you interested in filmmaking?

DZ: I think it has to do with the idea of enhancing the way to tell a story in a way no prose work or stage play can. I mean, it's there where the cultural heritages lie, but I feel somehow with moving pictures you can go far beyond - it's rather like a kind of amalgamating all other forms of art if done in the right way.
I always had a strong need to find ways of telling stories- so sooner or later I had to end up shooting film I guess.


KS: What were some of your earliest experiments in filmmaking?

DZ: Oh, terrible stuff. Very clumsy animations and a pretty trashy Sci-Fi parody. But it was incredible fun shooting it- just playing along with the medium and having fun. I've learned a lot during that project.


KS: Where did the idea for No. 2 come from?

DZ: Actually it was an improv exercise we had to do at film school. The task was to produce a short from scratch to post in 1 day. As to explore the effects of sound and picture only, we were limited to use only five words in it.
The idea itself came as my fellow student Jane and me sat thinking hard at the cemetery across the street of our institute building. The first thing that was clear pretty quickly was, that we wanted to do the whole thing completely silent and in the style of the old Expressionist movies we like. Then, there is that labyrinthine cavernous cellar underneath our institute building and I wanted to use that setup, it seemed appropriate. The only way to show its full vista was if we had someone walking through it, so we had a loose direction. I don't know anymore who threw in the idea of that jack-in-the-box, but from then we knew what we were heading to.
By the way, the submitted version is not the original, it was much shorter and we never felt it worked in the right way. A few weeks ago we decided to upheave the whole project and when I came across the call for contributions we decided to submit it if we made it to finish in time. Well, we did.






KS: Certainly, there is a lot of influence from German Expressionism, as you stated. What films in particular did you seek to emulate, if any?

DZ: Well, the beginning is a reference to Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, you know there is that close up when Cesare wakes up at Caligari's tent on the fair- that's what we had in mind when shooting the opening scene. The design of the boxes is another thing that is a slight reference to the whole production design of "Caligari", with all its irregular angles and distorted edges. Coming tho think of it, the whole somnambulist thing of "Caligari" is a kind of sub- level of it , as one doesn't know if the man is dreaming or not - so it's pretty much Caligari in it.
On the other hand we have a very angular and clear cadrage - given through the location's architecture - you might find some references to "Metropolis" in its geometric look. Although that great hall with its pillars and wooden pilasters miight remind one a bit on the wood in Lang's first "Nibelungen" part. But that's things the location gave us and if they are references at all, they are more subconscious. The main influence certainly is "Caligari".


KS: One of my favorite aspects of the piece is the location. It has a very rich textural quality to it, but did you have any difficulty shooting there?

DZ: Heehee, yes. As I said it's a huge cellar areal underneath our institute building and is partly in danger to collapse. So we had to ask a special permisson of our rector for getting down there. Plus we had to promis not to go to these parts of it. But they were the most interesting by far. In fact, the room in the final scene and that passage that looks like an old mine are in that area ...
Although it was damn wet down there. Actually there are even some kind of stalagmites- and -tites. And it's just a cellar! But that obviously was good for the atmosphere of the film.

KS: Aside from German Expressionism, what else, film and otherwise, are you typically influenced by?

DZ: Oh, on the visual side certainly a lot by Gilliam and of course Burton, but I also am stunned by the perfection of Kubrick's mise-en-cadre
compositions and as for story telling I am a great fan of Takeshi Kitano's editing method. But that had no impact on "No.2" I guess.
As speaking for my fellow student Jane- who has an equal share on this project - I think I can say that her influence very clearly lies at Burton and Gilliam too. That's why we can work together that good I guess.






KS: How important is it to you to emulate previous works?

DZ: Well, doing "No.2" was fun, but usually it's not that I am thinking so much about emulating some other works. At least not directly, it's more about influences I think. I mean the whole prodcuction process of"No.2" is more like a stream of consciousness -thing insofar that we just remembered the moody vault and wanted to do something in there and as the task was also to use merely any word, or thoughts went down that path to silent movies. But it's not always that way, in general it's more the story choosing itself the right style during the forging process . But certainly our influences always have some impact in one way or another. I guess that's pretty normal. You just have to look out to maintain your own style - too much references can make you stumble a bit I guess...

KS: Do you have any future projects in mind?

DZ: Oh yes. There's a handful of treatments we came up with in the last, I guess, three years that still wait to be shot. Then there's also the script for a feature length project we're writing and hope to get our stuff ready for next years' submission deadlines of several film funding commissions to (hopefully) get it up.
And right now we're also in production with another short that will you change your look on umbrellas for ever. At least we hope ....


KS: What sort of advice would you give to fellow aspiring filmmakers?

DZ: Hm, I guess it's about decisions. Do you wanna make easy money or do you just love the medium. If it is the first, well then- just always stick to Aristotle and never forget to put in the lawyer that rapes that pregnant single mother, that will boost the box office for certain. But if it is the love of the medium- there is a poem the great Leonard Cohen once wrote about writing poetry, it goes something like that: "I am sitting here, writing poems, in the midst of night- for the ones like me, to be read in nights like this." I think it's the same with film. Just do the kind of movies you yourself want to see.




40 comments:

Thiago Bronzatto said...

Hi there!
My name is Thiago Bronzatto and I am brazilian journalist from GLOSS magazine, the most popular woman magazine in South America.
I am trying to speak to agent of the Tim Burton. But, until now, I do not have some contact. Then, could you help me? Do you some telephone number? I would be glad if you answer me.
Cheers,

Thiago Bronzatto
GLOSS MAGAZINE
WWW.GLOSSONLINE.COM
tbronzatto@abril.com.br
+55 11 3037-6955

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