Blink of an Eye: Interview with Martin Bargiel
We first met director Martin Bargiel at Cambridge Film Festival 2011, where his short film AUGENBLICKE screened as part of the Mad World short film series. Read our review here. Bargiel has since toured with the film and picked up several awards along the way. Max Zeh caught up with him to talk about AUGENBLICKE, film making and an upcoming foray into feature film.
This interview was originally conducted in German and is available in both tongues – hier Klicken, um das Interview auf Deutsch zu lesen.
Max Zeh: What made you want to make films?
Martin Bargiel: I think it was the cinema of the 80s. Watching STAR WARS for the first time, as well as the adventures of THE GOONIES or INDIANA JONES, left a deep impression on me. Though I was generally interested in films from then on, I always wanted to know “how”. How did filmmakers do this or that? I wanted to know so I could do it on my own.
I find it absolutely crazy how your brain simulates a completely different world, in which everything is possible, while you are asleep at night.
MZ: What inspired/influenced you for Augenblicke?
MB: I previously made light comedy or films for children about social problems. Therefore I wanted to make a darker film as my next project. In addition, I’m fascinated by dreams, whether good or bad. I find it absolutely crazy how your brain simulates a completely different world, in which everything is possible, while you are asleep at night. I think those are the two things which made me want to make a dark film about sleeping disorders.
MZ: How long did it take you to make the film?
MB: We built the set in three weeks. Everything in the film, except two scenes, is shot on a set. The shooting took seven days. But these seven days were spread over a period of 1.5 years. The editing took another 1.5 years – mainly because I did it all on my own (editing, visual effects and sound design). This means that between two normal jobs to pay the rent (image filming and photo production), sometimes there were two days of editing, then nothing for two weeks, then just another three hours, then again in five days and sometimes even breaks of four to five months where nothing happened.
MZ: What is the significance of the jigsaw puzzles, which are put together the wrong way?
MB: There’s no real significance. It’s meant to show he’s kind of strange, that Schenker doesn’t seem to think straight all the time. Some bits are done correct; he seems to have it done on his better days, when he could sleep. The wrong bits are meant to indicate that there are nights (like the night in the film) when his mind keeps tricking him, and nothing seems to be the way he thought it was. It’s funny though, you are the first one who asked me about the puzzle! That’s great!
I just love directing and using the camera. I find the two things absolutely belong together, just like the editing afterwards.
MZ: You were responsible for the directing, editing and the script. Are you an all-round-talent?
MB: You forgot the most important part – the camera! (Laughs). But seriously, I would never think of myself as an all-round talent. There is always someone with better knowledge and special skills in one section or the other. I just love directing and using the camera. I find the two things absolutely belong together, just like the editing afterwards. Since, as a freelancer, I am sometimes involved in editing or using the camera on different projects, I have a passion for these four things. And if you get a bad day or a bad take once in a while you only need to be mad at yourself.
MZ: You are currently working on two films, what can you tell me about these projects?
MB: Indeed. I’m currently working on two ideas for my feature length debut. On one of the ideas I’m working alone, as the sole scriptwriter. The other idea will be structured differently – it will be developed with a co-writer. I am doing both at the same time, to see which one will bear fruit first. They will probably be different stories. But both will be oriented to a dark subject matter. Not necessarily like a crime film or a thriller -but definitely not a comedy or love-story. Maybe a dark fairy-tale for grownups or adults…
It is better to help out on 2 or 3 productions as an assistant or intern, instead of just studying film theory for 2 or 3 semesters.
MZ: Do you have any advice for future film makers?
MB: Watch lots of behind the scenes/making-ofs on DVDs, and generally watch lots of films which you could imagine making yourself. Then make as much as possible on your own. You don’t need to be at a film school for that. Nowadays the equipment for making films which even look good on a large screen has become very affordable compared to a few years ago, so there is no excuse as to why you can’t produce high quality image and sound. That’s why a story is most important, now as well as back in the day. It just needs imagination and creativity.
In schools you might learn the structure of a story, but everyone needs to provide the ideas themselves. A good network is as important (this is the benefit of a film school: the fellow students). Film making is teamwork. At some point you can’t rely on using your parents, siblings or best friends for projects. It is useful to collect as many contacts as possible over a period of time, who also want to be part of the film world. In the film business, practical experience counts. It is better to help out on 2 or 3 productions as an assistant or intern, instead of just studying film theory for 2 or 3 semesters.
Visit the official website for AUGENBLICKE here.
- Augenblicke (Blink Of An Eye) by Rosy Hunt (Editor-in-Chief)