LLFF Speaks with German Filmmakers Ninon Schubert and Michael O’Connor
October 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
One of Landlocked’s feature films, Schlafende Hunde (Sleeping Dogs), comes to Iowa all the way from Germany. And filmmakers, Ninon Schubert (writer/producer) and Michael O’Connor (director/producer) have taken a few moments to answer our standard 2012 interview questions. Here is what they had to say:
LL: How old were you when you realized you wanted to be a filmmaker? Describe your moment.
Ninon: It was actually a very gradual process. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, so I’m definitely more from a writing background. I started out writing pieces for school magazines, then writing poetry and then I gradually moved into short stories. I always watched loads of movies – we used to live near a cinema that had all-night sessions around a theme or a certain filmmaker so we’d go and watch four or five movies in one sitting. So at some point writing for movies just became the natural extension of writing. I then also went to film school and that helped focus me.
Michael: Maybe around 30. My background is in engineering / architecture but I was reading a lot about the history of filmmaking. One book that I really liked was A History of Narrative Film by David Cook. Around the same time I was an extra in various films and became fascinated by the actors’ focus in the scenes and how to breathe life into what seemed a very technical medium.
LL: What is currently your favorite movie of all time? Why?
Ninon: Hmmm…I have a group of favorite movies…..maybe at the moment my favorite is “On the Waterfront”, but if you ask me next week you might get a different answer. I love everything about the film: the story is gripping, it’s very moving, the actors are great, it’s very atmospheric…
Michael: Difficult to say, but this week it is “The Truman Show”. I think it’s because of the emotional clarity in which Peter Weir tells a complex story, and the originality of the story by Andrew Nicol, and last but not least there’s of course Jim Carrey’s great performance.
LL: How did you decide on the title for your film?
Ninon & Michael: The German title Schlafende Hunde translates in English to “Sleeping Dogs”. We went through various titles and kept on coming back to the saying “let sleeping dogs lie” – which in German is “don’t wake sleeping dogs” (Schlafende Hunde weckt man nicht). Jim, the father in the film, has an inner sleeping dog which is his guilty conscience about leaving his son 15 years ago. But he also has another “sleeping dog” in the form of his past which comes back to play havoc with his present.
LL: If you were to “label” your genre of film, what would that be? And what draws and/or inspires you to make this type of film?
Ninon: I love psychological thrillers, or anything that involves secrets, mysteries and drama. I’m interested in people, their motives, how they became what they are, how they react in certain situations, what happens when you put them under pressure. I’m also a fan of Film Noir and political thrillers.
Michael: I think “my” genre must be either psychological thriller or psychological drama. When working with limited financial means (as in Schlafende Hunde, which was made on a very low budget) an emotional story and strong performances are worth their weight in gold in allowing you to connect with an audience.
LL: If you could work with anyone in “Hollywood”, who would it be? and why?
Ninon: I don’t really have one person I’d like to work with, but anyone who’s interested in telling the same type of stories.
Michael: Daniel Lupi, producer of Magnolia, he is often involved in the telling of “non-Hollywood” films within the Hollywood system.
THANK YOU, NINON & MICHAEL!
We are so excited to screen Schlafende Hunde this year at Landlocked!
We wish you much success and look forward to seeing future Shakedown Films.
Here’s a sneak peek: