Director Franziska Margarete Hoenisch and DoP Stefanie Reinhard shared the secrets behind their improvised film 'Club Europa' in our latest Guest Session. We ask them what fuels their creativity.
They say that in improvisation there are no mistakes, and after watching Club Europa, you might have to agree. The feature film’s seamless dialogues and acting were completely improvised – quite a challenge considering the 40-strong team! A co-production with the prestigious editorial department ZDF Das kleine Fernsehspiel, it has won several awards.
In our latest Guest Session, director Franziska Margarete Hoenisch and DoP Stefanie Reinhard shared with our Film Production and Screen Acting students just how they made it happen. “It was chaos all of the time… there were a thousand things happening,” Stefanie recounted. “But in the end the actors came to me and said ‘I’ve never had such a nice set. There were no fights or anything.'” Franziska had been researching, writing and developing the film for two years before Stefanie, on a student exchange at Franziska’s school, joined the project with her visual vision. Stefanie was not without trepidation, however. “Cinematographers can easily get scared of improv because they can’t plan,” she admitted.
Club Europa follows the story of Kreuzberg flatmates Martha, Yasmin and Jamie, who decide to invite Cameroonian refugee Samuel to live in their spare room. Life together is great, until Samuel’s situation takes a dramatic turn. The flatmates must now face the question: how far do they really want to go to help?
After a well-travelled academic career, including degrees in both Cultural Science and directing, and internships at Cape Town Opera, Goethe-Institut Prague and the European culture channel ARTE, Franziska graduated in 2017. Her short film aussi loin, shot during her semester at prestigious Paris film school La Fémis, has travelled numerous international festivals.
Stefanie graduated from the Polish National Film School in 2016 with a Master’s in cinematography. Since then she’s worked as a director of photography, driven to design a unique visual voice for every story. Through her extensive filmography of everything from short fictions to documentaries to commercials, she has received nearly as many awards as she has made films.
Keen to delve further into their psyches, we took the up-and-coming filmmakers aside after the session to ask them our favourite question: what is the one thing that fuels your creativity? Here’s what they told us.
Franziska Margarete Hoenisch
"I think for me there is not that ONE THING that fuels my creativity. It’s more about finding out what is the one or two things that you need at a particular part of the process. In filmmaking, these processes are so different; from scriptwriting, where you are often quite alone, to shooting, when you’re suddenly surrounded by a crowd of people. So the things needed are also different, I guess.
Now that I am in the process of writing a new film, I recently discovered hiking/ taking long walks for when I feel stuck. I think it’s really about finding a steady pace of walking and getting your blood circulation going. It helps me to keep on walking longer than I actually feel like. It’s great if you have a path where you do a round and at some point, it would take longer going back than to keep going until the end. This feels a lot like scriptwriting.
You have so many moments when you or others doubt that what you once decided was a good idea. For me, there always is this one feeling. It’s this one interest in telling a story that – no matter how much the story changes in the process and over time – always stays the same. When I walk and turn down the noise, it comes back. It’s a bit like saying hi to an old friend. So during the writing process, walking really helps me to find solitude to meet my ‘imaginary friends.’
Later on – and this is what I really love most about making a movie – you have all these wonderful collaborations. Especially when the script has reached the point that I can share and discuss it with my DoP, it is wonderful. It is so great when someone you highly respect starts looking at that thing that you’ve been puzzling on for years. Luckily making a film always leads up to working as a team in the end. Otherwise I’m not sure I could do it."
Director of Photography
"The one thing that fuels my creativity is my work madness. I find myself in a steady search and study. When I am stuck with a project, it helps me try to let go. That’s often the hardest. Sports often help me at this point. I was, for example, hoping for a breakthrough with a mood board for a new project. I finally had two days off and wanted to totally focus on finishing it, but I just couldn’t get the final idea.
So I took the chance to go ski touring with my father. After a while, fighting against the big snowflakes, I stopped thinking about it. The next morning I woke up already with a crucial thought about what was wrong and completed the work within an hour."