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raymac Written by raymac
Oct. 17, 2009 | 9:21 AM

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Screamfest Interviews: aQua ad lavandum - in brevi

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Interview with Florian Metzner, co-writer and co-director of the short film, aQua ad lavandum - in brevi

What is your short film about?
We wanted to deal with the subject of guilt and how far you would go in blocking it out and what happened when it comes to the point where you really have to face what you are doing. What if you really could see that part of yourself you?re trying to avoid? That dark part that you do not wish to realize. We also wanted to show how society accepts people these days that actually have skeletons in their closet - as long as they show it. We took those elements and put them into concrete images. As if all that happens in the film, really happens in one?s mind. In the mind of our main character “Debitus”. He?s the one who has to face his bad conscience after killing somebody. The story is nothing new. It?s a subject as old as humanity. But I?m pretty sure it?s never has been shown like this smile

This is a very ambitious production for a student short, how did it all come together?
Luckily we found enough people who were excited about that project. You have to know that most of the student short films in Germany were dramas with lots of dialogue in it, camerawork that looks more documentary style, no music rather than big orchestral scores and a production design that meant using everything that you can find around you. We think otherwise. We think that great images, an impressive production design and great sound and music works perfectly with a great and story. Many people here think that if a film looks expensive and Hollywood-like that it?s modest and poor of story. Like most Hollywood blockbusters, for example Transformers 2, they look great, sound great, but the story is by far something every writing student could come up with. The crew members we introduced to the project realized those qualities and were pretty excited to eventually work in a “huge” style. So after months of working at the script and developing the look and feel of the film just by two people - suddenly there are 30 or 40 people involved and around you. It’s strange, but also pretty cool and exciting.

The performance by your lead actor is very compelling? How did you cast him?
Alexander Schubert is indeed a very multi talented actor. He is actually known as a comedic character in Germany. Working on “aQua ad lavandum - in brevi” gave him the possibility for showing a whole new part of him. Alexander Schubert not only helped in developing the main character “Debitus” and played that role; he also gave us reference for the movements of the digital character “Impedim” and gave that creature his voice and his look. It?s in a sense, a double role for him. He also gained experience by working with a digital character, blue screen, elements that were later composed into the film and he also made all of the stunts by himself. All those experiences are very rare in German student productions. Even in German movie productions. But he did a terrific job and I am so glad we had him. Luckily a former producer introduced Alexander to our project. It was very early in the pre production but from there on he was on board.

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Where was the film shot?
We found an old storage house in the east part of Berlin. The secret police of the German Democratic Republic used to produce huge propaganda posters there about 20 years ago. So we had plenty of space. There we build our set.

Who designed and created your CGI effects?
Helge Balzer made the whole production design. So many elements that later come to life by creating them as digital effects were already designed in their look. Dennis Rettkowski together with Helge Balzer created those effects and the digital character “Impedim”. Helge Balzer animated everything. Dennis Rettkowski made everything possible. There are a lot of effects in the film that are not cognizable as effects. Such as set extensions and props that are real in some shots but in others digital.

The rich score adds a lot to the film. Who did the music?
Stefan Maria Schneider put a lot of effort in writing and creating the music for our film. He is very talented and also a big fan of great music scores with the impact of a full orchestra. And that fits very well, because our story is indeed a very emotional, epic one. Even if it looks “small scale”, the music was recorded by the 50 person German Filmorchestra Babelsberg. In addition Stefan recorded a scap metal percussion band and a church organ.

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What do you hope your short film achieves?
2 things: On one hand, we want the audience to think about the film. Find something in it that enlightens them. There?s a lot to find in there. And a lot to interpret. I think everybody?s got an “Impedim” going after oneself. Some are smaller and some are bigger and more dreadful. But by watching the film, maybe you?ll understand what the motivation of that “Impedim” is. It?s not restraining that part that makes you prosper. Rather you have to accept that part as part of yourself. Love yourself in a way. Only then you can be a whole being. Otherwise you?ll stay a shallow creature.

On the other hand, we want to entertain. We want to have the audience to have a great time watching the film. Being thrilled, being amazed. Enjoying the images, the sound and the action. And the best part is that both ways work perfectly together smile

How did you get into filmmaking?
That goes all the way back to high school, where Helge Balzer, Dennis Rettkowski and I were working at a school project. After the project was over, we stayed together, created the film workshop “Amber Artworks - creative film” and produced our first commercial at the age of 17 which was shown in the local movie theaters. Our first short film was “LUDUS” in the year 2000. You can watch it on YouTube. But let me inform you about the fact that we had no professional experience in filmmaking those days. When we created that film (that already includes full animated digital elements) we were still in high school smile

What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers?
If you want to shoot a film, then do it! smile The most important thing is to find the right people who share the same passion for storytelling, filmmaking and everything else you love too much by doing that job. Over the years I met so many people who always wanted to make a movie but at some point they started to fear the amount of responsibility and work that comes with a film project. And most of the times those people are all by themselves and do not have anybody to push them forward. Don?t be afraid! Go out and shoot your film! But first, find the right people to work with! And I know there are a lot of talented young passionate future filmmakers out there!

Which filmmakers inspire you and why?
There are many filmmakers who inspired us. And of course not everybody of them is perfect. It?s more that single films inspire us.

But I will give you some names smile

M. Night Shyamalan, Peter Jackson, Paul Verhoeven, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Tim Burton. They all know their tools for storytelling so well, that most of their films are nothing you have seen before. And that is something very important for a director, knowing what tools exist for telling the story the way you want it to be told: Working with sound effects, with surround mixing, with music, with great camera work, with digital effects, and with a unique production design. All that could help you to tell a story that had never been told before.

What is next for you?
We?re writing a script for a major motion picture but first we will produce another short film that again deals with something that affects all of us. But this time we do not make it so parable-like like aQua ad lavandum - in brevi. It?s settled in the middle ages in northern Germany. It?s about a man who realizes in a ripe old age, that he walked on a meander almost all of his life. It will be epic! smile

View the trailer or watch a behind the scenes featurette or visit the official site.

“aQua ad lavandum - in brevi” screens on Sunday, October 18th at 12:00 PM as part of Student Shorts Program 2.

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