The Man With A Coin

Christian Schilling

unaffiliated

1) What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first professionally directed work, which gained more attention was “Kill the Noise”, a spec-commercial for the German ear plug brand Ohropax. It was a project of my second year at the Filmacademy Baden-Wuerttemberg in 2016.

2) How did you get into directing? 
It all started back in the 90s with videos I shot with my father’s high tech Video8 camcorder. Today these videos could have a good chance to go viral, because most of the time my main actor was our cat “Polly”. But professionally my directing career got serious when I enrolled at the Filmacademy Baden-Wuerttemberg in the study path of Commercial Directing. In the meantime, cats are mostly replaced by real actors. I think I mainly got into directing, because it’s a combination of all the things I love: stories, pictures, sound and music.

3) What is your most recent project? 
My spec for Mentos about a guy, who is unhealthily indecisive has a subtle story and a very sophisticated production design. It was a relatively big production, which was super well-organized. Every shot was planned in detail beforehand. Now I will shoot something more intimate with a more flexible shooting plan. In July I will travel together with my DP, an actress and a Super-8 camera to Italy to shoot my next spec-spot. I like to throw myself into different waters.

4) What is the best part of being a director? 
When you found a story worth telling, when you draw a storyboard, when you found actors and a location and planned everything in detail for month, even then something unexpected will happen while shooting and you have to find a solution within minutes. That’s when you learn what directing is all about. At first glance it sounds a bit stressful, but those situations are the best part of being a director, because you grow and get better with these kinds of situations.

5) What is the worst part of being a director? 
One of the tough aspects can lead to great results: Being a director means to make all those decisions, which are necessary to realize your vision. The hard part is to pass over your vision to the actors, because they will interpret your vision the way they see it. This is when amazing things can happen, which you’ve never even thought of.

6) What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, TV movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre—comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.? 
My current focus are commercials, because I love to tell stories in a short amount of time or even in a restricted time frame. But I’m curious for feature films in the long term. In my last year at the Filmacademy I want to expand my narrative skills. After I will have finished my latest spec in Italy, I will start with the pre-production of my next project. With this one I want to show another side of me, again.

7) Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you? 
Before I started my studies at the Filmacademy, I studied “Motion Pictures” at the University of Applied Science in Darmstadt. Our main professor Alexander Herzog came from the music video and commercial side. He showed us that commercials can have a very artistic approach, too. Every two weeks he gave us the task to shoot a small clip, where we had to focus on one specific film aspect, like framing, dialogue or in-camera-effects. This is when I learned that you can create a great film without any budget, using one single crappy camera.

8) Who is your favorite director and why? 
Edgar Wright, because he is the best at super well-paced rhythmic visual storytelling! When it comes to commercials I have a few more like: Megaforce, Traktor, Vania Heymann, The Bobbsey Twins From Homicide, Ian Pons Jewell, Daniel Kleinman, Matthijs Van Heijningen, Ringan Ledwidge and Dougal Wilson, and there are many others. They all have something special in their way of telling stories and in their visuals, I really like that.

9) What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content? 
When I should name one of my favorite movies, I would say Scott Pilgrim vs. the World directed by Edgar Wright. The first half an hour is one of the best paced edits movie history has seen. I love the music and all those smooth and creative transitions.
Three of my all-time favorite commercials are: “Lamp” (Ikea) directed by Spike Jonze, “HeavyBubbles” directed by Vania Heymann, the “You can say anything with a Smile” series (Crest) directed by Harold Einstein and “Monty the Penguin” (John Lewis) directed by Dougal Wilson. Oh, that were four and I could name even more. (Sorry for the rhyme insert btw.)

10) Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?) 
I grew up in a small town close to Frankfurt in Germany. My older sister watched a lot of MTV back in the days, so I was forced to watch the good old music videos. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to become a rock star in high school. I took guitar lessons and started a band. We played a couple of years, but I realized that a combination of the mediums, pictures and music, was something, where I can play out my ideas even better.

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Christian Schilling

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