Film Production Bachelor Degree student Joy Cameron explores Berlin’s electronic music scene in her first feature film production: Berlin Boxing.
It’s Sunday afternoon and you’re not pouring milk onto cornflakes. There’s no musty dressing gown as you snooze through the seventh episode. Your passionate personal project can wait till next week. Missed calls from mum repeat with the beat. Outside of space and time, ecstatic in Berghain, it’s techno, sweat, sex, flashing lights, laddered tights. Reality is too bright. How did you get here again?
If you’ve never known this feeling, chances are you know someone who has. Because in Berlin, Europe’s no-rules techno capital, there’s a fine line between letting your hair down and losing yourself. Through the tale of a hedonistic female DJ whose life spins out of control when her boxer boyfriend falls into a coma, filmmaker and Film Production Bachelor Degree student Joy Cameron explores this precarious paradise. The moral of the story: even for those who hit self-destruct, there’s always a second chance to turn your life around.
Berlin Boxing is Joy’s first ever feature movie, the captivating script for which she had already written two years ago. The product of her two main passions, filmmaking and electronic music (the winning combination that drew her to Catalyst, Joy is giving her all to turn the ambitious project to reality. Her Kickstarter campaign is an essential part of that, which, to support her fellow creatives, she has cleverly doubled up as a promotion platform for up-and-coming DJs and producers.
With just 13 days to go and a few thousand euros left to earn, we caught up with the talented and dedicated filmmaker to learn more about her exciting Berlin Boxing journey.
“It took me a long time to finalise the story behind Berlin Boxing but I finally feel ready to share it with the world.”
Hey Joy, how’s it going?
Hello. I am doing great, thank you.
First of all, tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I am a Parisian producer and director based in Berlin. I started my career in the movie industry at the age of 17 and I have been working in Lebanon, England and France so far. I have a lot of passion for art, storytelling and music as well.
How did you go from making short films and commercials to writing and creating a whole feature film?
By gathering experience and constantly working. Like most people, I have encountered things in my life that touched or amazed me. Over the years, I developed my tools as an filmmaker. It took me a long time to finalise the story behind Berlin Boxing but I finally feel ready to share it with the world.
The Berlin Boxing synopsis is immediately relatable to those of us involved in Berlin's nightlife scene. You said the characters are inspired by real people, including yourself. Since we already know that many Berliners have a partying problem, how are you hoping to inspire your audience in return?
The truth about Berlin’s nightlife is that there are no rules and no judgement, and drugs and casual sex are common. It’s all about being free to be whoever you want to be, outside of societal norms. The thing is, you can lose yourself so easily in such a world. With this movie, I want to show club nights as they are: raw and free from taboos. First, I will make everyone who is unfamiliar with Berlin’s nightlife fall in love with it. Eventually, however, they will get to understand the consequences of the lifestyle on your daily life, work, health, ambitions, friends and family.
Berlin Boxing visuals
“We are not only influenced by our education, beliefs and mentality, but by the choices we make.”
What instantly struck us is the sense of duality that runs throughout the storyline. Not only are the main characters presented as polar opposites, but there seems to be a big focus on the positive and negative aspects of their environment and life in general. What message are you hoping to convey through this?
I have realised that people either take care of their health a lot or not at all. I want to show the differences between those two lifestyles. Ultimately, we are not only influenced by our education, beliefs and mentality, but by the choices we make.
You put a lot of emphasis on the philosophy that everything happens for a reason. What led you to believe so strongly in destiny?
I believe that sometimes in life we are confronted with certain situations in order to learn and evolve. I think that negativity also hides positivity. I learnt so much from pain and loss; without those experiences, I would not be the person I am today. For two years, I couldn’t find a university that would accept me for a Bachelor of Arts degree, due to my lack of a high school degree. There was a period where I wanted to quit cinema. I was partying a lot so I decided to make music. I sent an application for a music course at Catalyst only to realise that the school also has film classes. I applied, got accepted and was able to work in film with musicians. Every hard circumstance in life can lead to something positive.
Mind over matter is another strong motif in Berlin Boxing. Why did you choose boxing specifically to represent this?
Boxing, as a sport, is more mental than physical. In order to win a boxing match, you can’t give up; it’s all about carrying on fighting even when you’ve been knocked down. This inspires my values. I also picked the sport because of the strong contrast between the self-discipline involved in boxing and the hedonism of the music industry.
“I’ve always thought that film and music need each other. By sharing resources and building networks, we can all help each other to spread our art.”
The movie visuals you have sketched out are equally exciting. What are your main ideas and inspirations for the locations and cinematography?
I will go for the underground parts Berlin has to offer. This city is full of hidden places! Berlin is so huge; there is always something new to discover. Depending on the area, the architecture and people are very different. I want to show Berlin in all its different lights. I am in contact with a very famous night club in Berlin which allowed me to shoot a scene there before. The place has to remain secret for the moment but I guarantee that every techno addict will recognise it while watching the movie!
We will also shoot scenes in abandoned buildings. There will be two bathtubs separated by a wall in a huge, dark warehouse and people will be shown kissing, having sex and of course taking drugs there. All of this will be drowned in blue and red light. In the morning, Elena, the main character, will wake up half naked in red bathwater, not knowing where she is. This is one example of the visuals I will have in the movie. Everyone who has danced at an event at Herrensauna or Berghain at 11 in the morning can fill in the blanks.
For the cinematography, I really want to play with lights. Some scenes will be very colorful; others, grey and dark. The visuals will be very diverse depending on what the story requires. The movie has to reflect the arts in all their splendour.
Were there any reasons in particular why you decided to put the spotlight on female DJs?
I want my main character to be female because we often associate techno with male DJs. We can’t deny that, in the music industry, males are more present than females – although, females are now becoming more successful. It is important to me to show how women are treated in this superficial industry, where selling yourself to others is part of your job as an artist. It is harder for a woman to win respect in a male-dominated field. In the movie, Elena had to make more effort than everyone else to succeed and avoid abuse by her colleagues. The world is changing and we tend to see more equality than there used to be, but it’s still a sensitive topic. Elena represents the overall empowerment of women.
Supporting creative talent is a clear thread throughout this project, not simply through the message of the film, but the musicians you’re involving in the crowdfunding campaign. Can you tell us a bit about the motivations behind this?
In the end, it’s the people who make a city. Berlin is very artistic; there are a lot of very talented independent musicians who are trying hard to get exposure and progress in their career. I’ve always thought that film and music need each other. By sharing resources and building networks, we can all help each other to spread our art.
Berlin Boxing visuals
“We are actually already in contact with a production company from Spain and are looking for a co-production in Germany.”
Continuing on the theme of collaboration, which collaborators do you already have on board and who are you still looking for?
At the moment, I am working with five Berlin-based producers/DJs, but I am looking for even more talented artists and styles. They should be in the techno field but I am open to any suggestions. The main musician of the project is Sunny, a.k.a. Black Elektronika. He was raised in Italy and now works as a music producer in Berlin. Sunny was a boxer himself actually, which is kind of crazy.
How much of the film are you hoping to fund through the Kickstarter campaign and by when?
We are planning to shoot ten minutes of Berlin Boxing next October for a trailer release in December. It doesn’t sound huge, but with that material we will be able to apply for further funding all over the world and attract production companies. We are actually already in contact with a production company from Spain and are looking for a co-production in Germany.
Finally, if all goes to plan – which we're certain it will – when can we expect to see the Berlin Boxing premiere?
The plan is to release the final product at the beginning of 2020.
We can’t wait. Thanks so much for talking to us!
Support Joy Cameron by donating to her Kickstarter campaign before Thursday, July 12 2018 at 11:08 AM CEST – and don’t forget to share it on social media!
To see more of our film students’ incredible work, check out our round-up of the 2018 Catalyst Film Awards.