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FRINGE! Queer Film Festival 2018
Jan-Peter Horstmann
FRI NOV 16, 20:30 HACKNEY HOUSE | 16 min | £6

RICK is gay and deaf. And he works as an adult porn actor. The short-documentary follows a young man who is able to overcome his impediment and boundaries and who lives out himself and his body and ultimately finds personal liberation in the lights of the film studio.


Hey JP, thanks for talking to TNC, how is everything going?

I’m very well - thank you. Greetings from Berlin.

Your short documentary Rick will be screened at Fringe! Queer Film Fest this November, what does it mean for you to be at the festival?

I’m very happy for my film to be a part of Fringe. Queer Film Festivals are such important meeting places for the community and our allies so I take great pride in being able to share my work with a London audience.

Rick is screening alongside Bruce La Bruce's It Is Not the Pornographer That Is Perverse, does this add any nerves for you?

Well actually I found out about this just a few days ago and I couldn’t really believe it at first. Bruce La Bruce is such an icon and I have been a great admirer of his work for years. So yes, I’m a bit nervous but mostly honoured. I hope he likes my film.

How important is it for LGBTQ+ films like yours to have a platform like Fringe! Queer Film Fest to be screened?

It is immensely important. I believe LGBTQ+ films really are the future because they show how complex human beings and our existence are and that our struggle is everybody's struggle. I have come to find that Queer films now are often the most exciting, daring, touching and courageous films. And I believe platforms like Fringe! bring our stories into the public forum and into our cinemas and cities - where they belong.

Do you think these types of film festivals open up LGBTQ+ lives and stories to a wider, perhaps mainstream audience?

That is, of course, my great hope. RICK has now been screened at several queer and non-queer festivals and I was often surprised by how diverse the audience was and that in fact my film did not only speak to queer people but straight audience members as well. So I think the times are over for queer film festivals to be little queer ghettos. I believe they are becoming more and more mainstream because we have profound stories that need and want to be heard. Let’s queer up the mainstream!


Tell me a little bit about Rick, how did this film come about?

RICK is my first-year film at film school in Babelsberg where I’m currently studying. We had to shoot a documentary for our first project. At first, I wanted to shoot a film about young men who wanted to start a career in porn. It was really hard for me though to find these young men as they usually don’t stand on the street waiting for a film student to come and film their lives. Oliver - who is the casting director in the film - is actually a friend of mine and he put me in touch with established performers whom I wanted to meet to get an understanding of why people decide to work in the porn industry and how that changes their lives and careers. So I met with several actors and RICK was the last one. I sat in front of him in a cafe and was so fascinated by him and his story and realised: he’s the film. So I asked him right away if he wanted to be my protagonist and fortunately, he agreed.

What were the biggest challenges you faced making Rick?

The fact that RICK is deaf was, of course, a challenge for a crew that are all able to hear. I thought about how we could find a way to work together without being concerned with a so-called disability all the time. I quickly realised that the concerns I had didn’t really match the reality of the shoot as RICK was super open and had a great sense of humour so any problems we had communicating were quickly pushed aside. We had two amazing interpreters - Luisa and Erika - on set every day so we were in great hands. But you know, it’s not like deaf people can’t communicate because they can not hear. We heard people often cannot communicate because we don’t properly listen or observe. There are so many ways of conversing with another human being - through looks, gestures, body language. The problem really is that hearing people think they understand everything when in fact we don’t. Meeting RICK actually opened up a new perspective for me on the way humans interact with one another.


Have you always wanted to be a filmmaker?

Actually no. I started out in theatre and always wanted to work there. And before that, I wanted to be a journalist and work as a correspondent for the BBC. But I have come to find that I can combine both of these passions and interests in film. So even though I didn’t always want to be a filmmaker, now I don’t want to change it ever again. I absolutely love making films. It’s the greatest job in the world.

As a filmmaker how important is the collaborative process for you? 

Oh, it’s so so so important. I believe that collaboration is one of the aspects why I love making films so much. I have always enjoyed working with a team of people who bring different views and skills to the table. I understand directing as moderating these different positions in order for us to reach that final goal. That moment on set when everything comes together and you can feel that confluence of energy to me is possibly the most exhilarating thing in the world. It really feels like flying.

How much has your approach to your work changed since your debut short?

I don’t know if my approach has changed that drastically. I have however become a bit more comfortable in declaring that I am really a filmmaker and that I believe there is a space out there for my films. It’s the first time in years that I feel like my experience and my ideas have really come together. 

"Don’t be afraid of setbacks - because boy will they come - and stop pretending you’d like to do things but actually do them."

Do you have any advice or tips for any fellow filmmaker?

Well, I think it’s a such a banal truth but really: stick with it! If you have an idea and you believe it’s worth something go for it. Don’t be afraid of setbacks - because the boy will they come - and stop pretending you’d like to do things but actually do them. And also be patient - that advice coming from me is actually a bit of a joke as I’m really impatient sometimes. But yes, patience I think is often underrated but really important. Time works in mysterious and helpful ways and if we learn to listen it will do wonders. 

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Rick?

I hope that people realize how complex human beings are in communication and how little of what’s actually being communicated is received by the other end. And that there is a way to change that. Also, I really hope that people enjoy spending time with RICK and experiencing his powerful energy and charismatic personality.

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