72. Berlinale 2022
Blaues Rauschen (Blue Noise)
Generation – Short Films
A closely observant film about bodies and touching, proximity and distance and the power of attraction. In the small space, between working bodies, behavioural patterns are deciphered and the underlying injuries exposed.
Hi Simon thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?
Thank you very much for reaching out to me, I really appreciate the opportunity of sharing information about my new film with the readers of your arts and culture website. Last year was everything but normal. However, lockdowns and the persistent feeling of being under threat got me closer to my family, friends and my feelings. The changes around forced flexibility in the mindset. I became much more spontaneous.
Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration or opportunities?
I spent the time on activities that I would never have done otherwise: helping out in a garden of an old man and working in a forest, side by side with forestry workers. I cleared my mind and got to know great people there. I have been inspired by the world of manual and physical work ever since.
Through that, I actually got in touch with the crafts world in Stuttgart, which happened to be a major inspiration for "Blue Noise". And it reminded me that filmmaking is also a craft. In order to gain perspective and to improve my own craftsman skills, I moved from my film school in Ludwigsburg, Germany to Paris, France, to study at La Fémis for a couple of months. Paris and the film school inspired me on many levels - how do I look at the world and people? What does cinema mean to me? What is its standing and its role in society?
You studied at Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg and attended the La Fémis Film School, how have these experiences helped you on your filmmaking journey?
The study at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg is - since I am still studying - a time of a very intense exchange between me, my teachers and fellow students. From discussing the stories I would like to tell to deciding how to tell them and finally experimenting while producing a film. And all this on a very high standard of film technique and equipment. In Ludwigsburg I have been writing a lot as well.
Thanks to very emphatic instructors and talented colleagues I got more courageous and honest with myself. I think that’s the most important point: to trust in the stories that you would like to tell and the craft that you’ve learned.
At La Fémis I was able to experience a very emotional, character-driven approach in storytelling, which inspired me a lot. I learned to use the techniques of the film with full awareness but at the same time, I got motivated to still follow my impulses. All in all these two schools have made me realize what I want and really need as a director, writer and artist.
"I felt very touched when I learned how hard it still is for young people to follow their inner voice, especially in terms of sexual identity."
What did it mean for you to see The Carousel get shortlisted for the 2020 German Young Screenwriters Award?
I felt very much connected to the characters of the story during writing, although they cross a fine line between harmless and just weird. They push a boundary between appropriate and inappropriate in their relationship. To be shortlisted for the award encouraged me. I felt to be understood and not judged for what I created. It means a lot to me.
Congratulations on having your World Premiere of Blue Noise in the Generation Shorts section at Berlinale 2022, how does it feel to be part of such an amazing line-up of films?
Thank you very much. I can’t express how happy this selection makes me, how proud I feel for our team that worked so hard to create this short film. The section Berlinale Generation focuses on films that take young people seriously and is in its own words a home for outspoken young audiences and open-minded adults. It is a perfect place to start the conversation that our film intends to with its viewers. I am very curious how people will respond to the first screening. And I can’t wait to enjoy the other great films there!
Can you tell me a little bit about how Blue Noise came about, what inspired your screenplay?
There was a very clear vision of the main character Alex at the beginning: a silhouette on a photograph and some emotions. A young man who rushes through a day unable to hear his inner voice, stifled by the surroundings.
Then my co-writer Malgorzata Zglinska and I talked a lot about obstacles in our lives, in our youth, about things and people, that hold us back. I got to know some people from the crafts world in Stuttgart and actually also worked on a construction site myself. I decided to put Alex in this milieu, where he works physically, where there is no time and no words to express all emotions.
In the writing, we started to set the coming-of-age story of Alex in that surrounding and very soon most of the story was already there. A portrait of a young apprentice craftsman who rejects his dad and searches for the closeness in his instructor. The very male-dominated environment actually became an obstacle for our protagonist. A setting that shows him a toxic image of masculinity and leads him to suppress his inner desires. It is a play with projections. And a place where it is very tough to even ask the important question of whether he may in fact desire men.
Although I grew up in a very different surrounding these obstacles and feelings are familiar to me. I felt very touched when I learned how hard it still is for young people to follow their inner voice, especially in terms of sexual identity. And we had the impression that those people are often not seen, and remain unheard. The lack of words in some moments and questions that were not asked inspired me a lot.
What were some of the biggest challenges you face bringing this film to life?
The biggest challenge was definitely casting. I wanted to work with people who actually work in the craft milieu, who know the suppression of feelings and who grew up with a toxic male image that we wanted to deconstruct. We met a lot of everyday young people as well as a lot of actors before we finally got to know our main actor Marvin Nando Nenning. Nando is working as a mechanic and has some acting experience as well. We shared a weekend together in Berlin; we talked a lot about relationships and about the subject while improvising together as part of the casting. I was impressed by his courage back then and the questions he asked.
We were very lucky to build up an ensemble out of a mix of actors and mechanics who did some acting before. Since we were unable to find real craftsmen, in the end, the mechanics and the actors had to get some courses in plastering and working with stucco. I love that - bringing people from different environments together and to experience an exchange of mentalities.
When working on a film like Blue Noise how close do you like to stick to your screenplay, do you allow yourself or your cast much flexibility?
I usually like to work as flexible as possible regarding the lines and to be able to improvise on set. That worked on "Blue Noise" very well since we were most of the time very free with the camera and could react very impulsively to the play of the actors or our surroundings. But there were still some scenes that were a bit more strict (or maybe more my vision of them was just too stiff in advance).
Do you think filmmakers should continue to push the boundaries of the films/stories they want to tell?
I think so, yes. But that’s easily said. I experience a lot of people (including myself) that lose trust and then you are lucky to have people around that empower and encourage you. A teacher of mine once said that we should go with our characters in the story to a place that really hurts them - that’s where they will change and where we as an audience will be hurt too. That’s why you need some courage and trust. I liked that a lot and I think he’s totally right.
Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?
For me, everything started with acting on stage in Vienna. That was where I learned a lot about characters while it also helped me as a teenager to express myself. Then I got more and more excited about photography and started shooting my first short films with my siblings and friends from the theatre. I for sure had the right friends at that time, who supported me endlessly. It was about that time when I deeply fell in love with cinema.
How much has your acting background helped to inform your approach to writing and directing?
In the whole pre-production and shooting, I can imagine what the actors might need, what helps if there are problems and internal blockades. And in the casting, I am not afraid to act with the actors too. I have a very playful approach to writing and do that also through emotionally witnessing the journey of the characters. That’s something I learned as an actor. Besides, I need to go to the locations with the Director of Photography, to improvise together with the actors in the real world of the characters. We build up real memories together on which we can rely on later onset. Through that, I hope that I can be a good companion while shooting. A companion who emphasizes the feelings of the characters and senses what the actors need to get there.
Is there any advice you would offer someone wanting to get into filmmaking?
I would recommend to try and observe people and to write and shoot movies out of your imagination. Not to be too idealistic at first and more importantly to be honest about the feelings that you want the audience and yourself to feel while watching and shooting the movie. Those are the emotions that will hold the movie together I suppose.
And finally, what do you hope audiences will take away from Blue Noise?
I hope that viewers of our film could gain a switch of perspective and start to see their surroundings in a different way. I observe a lot of ignorance and even contempt between people who are indifferent social bubbles. I hope to emphasize how others can feel, which unheard problems they might have. And encourage to follow an inner voice at the same time, to try things out even though they appear to be scary and maybe hurtful. These are the messages I intend to convey.