ISFFH Q & A with Director Daniel Rübesam
Daniel Rübesam won Best Foreign Language Action for his film “BRUEDER.” in
the 2013 International Student Film Festival Hollywood (ISFFH) and we had the opportunity to have a Q & A interview with him recently and learn some more about him and where he got the inspiration for his film.
ISFFH: Where do you find inspiration?
Daniel Rübesam: You can find inspiration everywhere. Photographs, music, newspapers, movies or stories that people tell you. I, for myself, find a lot of inspiration in music. Since I love film music, I listen to it very much. And sometimes it’s just the mood or a short melody that inspires me. Then I get pictures, a whole scene or maybe a type of character into my mind. I often close my eyes then, and try to picture what the scene or what mood the film could be like.
Of course, you need more than one source of inspiration. Sometimes I get ideas from photographs. I look at a photo and try to tell the story behind it. A good inspiration is travelling to other places, and doing stuff you’ve never done before. For example, a couple of days ago, I went to Venice. (Venice itself is just a huge inspirational resource.) I stayed at a very small budget hotel and while I was waiting for my girlfriend in the hotel lobby, I noticed the guestbook of the hotel. So, I started reading the notes people have left in that book, and I immediately imagined all the stories that those people have experienced.
The story I am currently working on, is based on a newspaper article I read a few weeks ago. So, that’s always a good resource for inspiration, too.
ISFFH: Who are your mentors?
Daniel Rübesam: Well, although I am from Germany, I grew up with all the movies from Hollywood. So, for me, those movies and their filmmakers are the reason I started making movies in the first place. Robert Rodriguez inspired me a lot. It’s his spirit, the way he approaches the making of his films. When I see his movies, I always think that this must have been a hell lot of fun. Of course, he makes a special type of films. Other filmmakers that inspire me are Clint Eastwood or Ben Affleck, for example; both more as directors than actors.
ISFFH: Tell me about your film and where you got the idea for it.
Daniel Rübesam: Our film BRUEDER was part of my studies. We had limited time, limited budget and a strict deadline for the movie to be finished. So, I wanted to make a simple story, but with an impact on an emotional level as well as on a visual level. The story is about two brothers. One has left his criminal past behind, the other is in some serious trouble. And he thinks the only way out of this is to ambush the money transport his brother is guarding. It’s easy to understand, but the dilemma for the older brother is pretty serious. Will he help his younger brother or will he fight him? I have an older brother and I was wondering how far he would go for me and vice versa.
ISFFH: How do you describe your filmmaking process?
Daniel Rübesam: I am a very visually thinking director. The visuality of a movie is very important to me. So, I very often start with thinking about moments, like the first encounter of the two brothers, that would make a good scene and tell a specific part of the story. Very often it starts with one scene. For example, with BRUEDER it was the ambush on the money transport. I always pictured that scene and I knew it was the key scene in the movie. And the more scenes I have in mind, the more they come together and form a movie. Of course, you lose some scenes on the way. And when you start thinking about characters you realize that some scenes don’t fit anymore. I have to see everything in front of my mind’s eye. A lot of people, especially our teachers here at school, tell me to start with the characters. I’m not saying they are wrong, I’m pretty sure they’re right. All I’m saying is that everyone has his own approach to making a film. You have to figure out what works best for you.
ISFFH: Who is the audience you wrote the film for?
Daniel Rübesam: The audiences of BRUEDER are clearly people who like to be told a story that has some meaning and is told in an entertaining manner. I love movies who tell a good story with the right pace and the right amount of entertainment and meaning. There are movies who tell the deepest shit you can imagine, but they tell it in a way that bores and thus loses the audience. On the other hand, there are movies that just try to entertain, but don’t tell any story at all. Those are often movies that count on their amazing visual effects to be enough to entertain an audience, but they often lose the focus on the story they were about to tell.
ISFFH: What message do you want people to take away after seeing your film?
Daniel Rübesam: Well, our protagonist makes a tough decision. He stays on the right track and successfully fights his criminal brother. So, the message could be to live an honest and law-abiding life. But as I said, I wanted to tell a simple story. So, for me, it wasn’t really about the message. When I had the idea for the movie I was thinking about how far I would go for my brother. And I think that’s what I wanted the audience to think about. In the movie the main character makes his decision. But what would you do? What would you do in a situation where one of your family members is in serious trouble?
ISFFH: What do you consider the elements of a good film?
Daniel Rübesam: Good writing. Good acting. Anything that goes beyond that is a personal choice, like the visual style, for example.
ISFFH: What advice do you have for fellow student filmmakers?
Daniel Rübesam: I think the most important thing that you have to learn when making movies is that especially in the beginning there are more defeats than successes. But with every defeat you should learn something. Every experience is worthwhile. And, you should always believe in yourself and stay true to who you are. If you really love what you’re doing you will do a good job. And that’s not only true for filmmaking. Believe in your ideas. You will come across thousands of people who will tell how to make your movie better, but in the end you’re the only one who really knows the movie that you envision.
ISFFH: What are your goals? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Daniel Rübesam: My goals are feature films. And in ten years I see myself surrounded by my family and friends, doing what I love to do, making movies.
ISFFH: How can people follow your work?
ISFFH: Any final words you want to share?
Daniel Rübesam: Those are not really my own words, but they can help a lot. “Don’t be afraid of anything. It’s moviemaking, not heart surgery!”
About the International Student Film Festival Hollywood
Hollywood is the capital city of the entertainment world. The International Student Film Festival Hollywood is the only film festival that embraces all ages from around the world, offering students the unique opportunity to gain the recognition of film industry leaders creating career development opportunities in their home countries as well as the United States. The opportunities provided by the ISFFH not only benefit the students, but the world community by bringing together people of diverse cultures and differing viewpoints.
The International Student Film Festival Hollywood is now accepting submissions for its 12th annual Film and Video Competition. The Festival will be held in the NoHo Arts District of North Hollywood, CA USA November 7 – 9, 2014. The competition is open to students of all ages and academic backgrounds. Submission deadline is August 15, 2014. More information and entry forms are available on the festival website www.isffhollywood.org. You can also find us on facebook www.facebook.com/ISFFHollywood.