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AN INTERVIEW WITH Nicolai Tegeler, PRODUCER & DIRECTOR
As a producer and a filmmaker, please introduce yourself.
My name is Nicolai Tegeler. I was born and raised in (West) Berlin. So I still saw the divided city.
Even my grandfather, whom I unfortunately never got to know, and my mother were also actors. I played in Germany, among other things,
in successful series formats such as "Lasko: Die Faust Gottes", "Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten and "Alarm für Cobra 11".
I also work regularly as a speaker and voice actor and also feel at home on the theater stage.
I already played in the BKA Theater in Berlin, with the Porcupines, at the Magdeburg Theater and in the renowned Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin.
I was also on tour with the german theater abroad in the USA and with Stars in Concert I tour Europe again and again with the "Beatles".
In 2009 I founded my own film production company Colafilm with my partner Alexander Kiersch - we produced, among other things Commercials and two feature films: "Ediths Glocken - the film" and "Zu den Sternen" / "To the stars".
Since 2003 I also work behind the camera, as a filmmaker / director and producer.
Why you became a filmmaker?
I was fascinated by the cinema and the stories that were told about a film and are still being told since I was a child.
In contrast to the theater, in film you often pick up the viewer emotionally much more deeply and take them with you into
the world of film for a certain time. The whole world of film fascinates me even more today - it's like another world for a certain time.
From the birth of the idea to the script and its filming and post-production. It is like a child learning to walk until it can be seen on the screen.
I also wanted to tell stories and take the audience into my world of film. And I love to work in a team and to take on responsibility.
Film is always teamwork. As an actor, you often wait for a role to be offered to you. As a filmmaker / producer it is of course different.
I am active from the very first moment and can influence the end product much more than "just" as an actor.
Give some more information about yourself and the films you have made so far, about your experience?
I love my job as an actor. But I was always interested in working behind the camera. So I started making short films back in 2003.
The special thing about it was that I always found people who shared my version / my idea of the respective project and
we were always able to implement and produce films together. For me, a good atmosphere on the set is very important and teamwork.
When it comes to a film production, that's only possible for me. Everyone is important for the end product and the best thing is
when everyone can identify with the respective film and give everything for it. So far I have made two feature films. My goal is at least 8 more ... like Quentin Tarantino but I'll let that come my way and there is already (film) material that I'm working on.
What are the films or people that had impacts on you and deeply inspired you to become a filmmaker?
I always act out of myself first. Everyone has to go and find his (own) way. You can follow paths, but then you are just a copy - it depends on you and what you have to say to the world. But of course there were and are people and films that influenced me, such as Christopher Nolan's film Memento. For me, Christopher Nolan is a visionary. But also Quentin Tarantino, Leonardo di Caprio.
I admire people who go their own way and achieve their goals despite all obstacles. I know some of them personally.
In Germany I like Til Schweiger, who always makes very high quality, emotional films. The list could go on forever ... maybe one more thing:
I also find Ellen Pompeo very exciting. Grey´s Anatomy has certainly been successful worldwide over these many years.
As a teenager, I was very fond of Madonna because she kept reinventing herself.
You have made your nice film“Zu Den Sternen” which was Officially Selected in the
"American Golden Picture International Film Festival".
Why you decided to make it?
First of all, I´m very happy that our Movie is officially selected in the "American Golden Picture International Film Festival".
That´s amazing! I didn't want to make a typical Stasi GDR film again, but rather focus on the characters that the
author (Dirk Josczok) describes so well and show how important it is to defend democracy - it is certainly not the best system,
but I don't know of any better! Günter Barton, who plays the role of Marco Hoffmann, introduced me to the author Dirk Josczok over 6 years ago.
So this is where I came into contact with the script for the first time. Right from the start I was fascinated by the fact that it is about two best friends who have a common past, but have nothing to do in the future. And that it was a political regime that tests and tested their friendship.
And of course also the question of what such a regime does to someone. With all the eavesdropping mechanisms,
the fear of being betrayed and of not being really free. I wanted to show what a regime like this can do with people without just looking
to the government to blame, but rather to discover how two people like you and me can still be traumatized today with such a past.
My stepfather fled the GDR and was very active in the church there because it was sometimes the only place where you could speak freely.
I think many were under a lot of pressure. And sadly you can still find that today, just like then, such governments in the world.
The film is (unfortunately) timeless and more topical than ever and should show how important it is to protect democracy,
always and everywhere! The film is political without being political. That was and is important to me. First and foremost, it's about friendship, love and betrayal. And what such a regime can do to people decades later.Friendship and here in the film even blood friendship
has its limits - just like in politics. Marco and Volker are both right and wrong at the same time. Sometimes the viewer is more for one,
then again for the other. Both are right and wrong. Just like in real life. But what can a friendship endure? What is allowed and what is not?
To what extent does everyone bear responsibility for himself and his actions.
These are the questions I am dealing with here, among other things.
What were some of the challenges you faced in making this film?
It took me over 5 years and several versions before I had the chance to finally make the film.
I was very lucky, an iron will, a great CAST and a mega crew and great partners (I LIKE STORIES, CELLOPHANE FILMS and others)
without whom I would not have made the film! The biggest challenge was getting enough money to do the film.
And after countless negotiations with broadcasters and funding institutions, I decided to make and produce the film myself with my partners.
That was the best I could do! I got to the point after 5 years where I had to make a decision to either drop it completely or just do it!
Today's success ultimately proves that I am right and motivates me to keep pushing the things that are important to me.
Let us more about your experience in this film?
With this film in particular, I learned to be true to myself as much as possible and to do what I want.
There are always people who criticize you and what you do. That may be right for them, but not always right for me. In addition,
with this project I saw again how important it is to work with a great team, where money is not the focus, but the project.
We were like one big family and we all wanted the same thing:
the birth of the film / the completion of the film. It is very important to me to create a good atmosphere on the set
and that everyone pulls together, regardless of what the tasks are!
The cinematography and acting is wonderful and supports the drama in a very effective way.
What was it like to work with them?
Benjamin Thiemert, my cameraman and his team, consisting of the head lighting technician Yassin Khaleb and his camera assistant
Tim Kallweit, was a well-coordinated team. Benjamin and I have known each other for a long time and trust each other.
That was important. We could always rely on each other! As many as the coordination is always precise and
we were able to work effectively on site. But also with our sound Andrea Schmidt, it was always pleasant to work,
because she always paid attention to everything independently and did her work. But all the other departments always worked for
the project and were always attentive, even during our many night shoots. For example, our make-up artist, Laura Kloeters,
made me aware of a connection error late at night. Our actors were always perfectly prepared so that we could work well here too.
That was important because we sometimes had very long scenes that I wanted to play through in order to then undercut them.
But first I wanted to resolve some scenes in their entire length in the long shot.
That always meant a great deal of concentration from everyone involved. In the end we did everything.
For you what was the biggest lesson you had to learn after making this film?
Doesn't work, doesn't exist! It always works, just differently. The viewer doesn't know how it is in the script.
Film also means always finding another way if the one that was planned no longer works.
It's like in life. It goes on and on. However, if you decide that it no longer works like this, you have to take a different path.
I want to say: anything is always possible. Especially with filmmaking.
If you say in advance that it won't work, you close yourself and the whole project can stop.
Everything always works - only then differently - but it works!
What keeps you inspired to continue filmmaking?
As I said before, it's mainly teamwork and a common goal. I really love my "Film Family".
In addition, the fact that in such times of crisis, art and culture and in particular films,
it is even more important to be made and shown - to take the viewer away from their everyday life for a moment
and, in the best case, to give them something - regardless of whether that is a lesson, a thought,
a smile or a sadness, it is important for me that the viewer extracts something for himself from the respective film.
In addition, filmmaking, besides acting, is one of the best things for me to express myself and,
in the best case, even to finance my own life from it.
The most important part is distributing the film. What did you do for distributing your film“Zu Den Sternen”?
First of all, it was important to me to show the film at international and national film festivals. Here we were fortunate that we have already been shown on some and even won. The festival evaluation is still taking place - certainly until 2021 - due to the Corona crisis -
I personally think streaming movies is completely ok and good, but it's not the same as in the cinema.
I'm currently working on an distribution in the cinema in German-speaking countries for 2021.
I'm actually still looking for a distributor for the USA! Maybe someone feels addressed here.
What are your filmmaking goals?
I want my films to be seen in the world and not to disappear in the "drawer". I want to touch and reach people.
I also love to bring people together - regardless of where they come from or what religion they belong to
- what is important is the respective project and its implementation.
A good atmosphere on the set and loyalty to the project are always important to me!
My aim is to create a situation for everyone on Set, in the best case scenario, that can be remembered for a lifetime
and to create a film for the viewer that, in the best case scenario, they will not forget so quickly.
What is your next project?
As an actor I'll be filming again soon - in front of the camera.
I'm looking forward to it - from time to time it's good to just be allowed to act again and not take responsibility for the entire film.
But I'm also currently working on three scripts - a Christmas story, a thriller and a drama ...
I think all three stories are great and at the moment I can't decide which one should get my main focus.
But I don't put myself under pressure. It all happens by itself.
GOOD LUCK Nicolai
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