Just imagine studying complex law texts, having mental break-downs, because your best friends for the next couple of years would be paragraphs. And sure, there would be many. Later then you would be wearing some made-to-measure suits, earning lots of money. Yes, as a lawyer you would be working your a$$ off. According to different paragraph of legislative texts Daniel’s decision could be seen as quite radical and according to us: brave. He quit studying law and decided to work in the film business. Having guts always gets payed off. And that’s where he is right now. Juniorproducer at Pantaleon Films working together with Matthias Schweighöfer in Munich.
Thanks for taking time for the Interview, Daniel. One thing that I really wanted to know is how does one switch from law to film?
I started studying law because I was interested in exploring reasons why we live how we live. In the beginning there was the „thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal“. It transformed into laws and rules our society lives by today, whether you like it or not, and I wanted to get behind it. It s now way more complicated with all the civil law and criminal law and all its details, but I wanted to understand and to improve things if I had seen a chance. I realised soon studying law is mainly not at all about any of that. If you want to get behind these things, you d have to study philosophy or sociology. I had been working in a theatre at the entrance at that time, and began being interested in performing arts. So I started working as an assistant director, which was surprisingly uncreative. I realised theatre is where I like to go, but not where I want to work. On a trip to Africa I was getting nervous because I did not know what I want to do. Then I began to be interested in film and how the interests in creative and organisational work combine into the wide field of filmproduction. Then I was lucky to find a great company that was founded back then, and they gave me a chance. That was five years ago, and I m still there.
And now, when you are looking back, was is a good or bad decision – pro’s and con’s?
The best! Pro is, work is never the same and depends on the status of each filmproject, it s always different. It probably will become more repetitive in the future, but I m working on it so it does not. There is actually no cons. I think decisions are very healthy, once you ve made them follow the way, if it doesn t work for you, change it. Sounds like a calendar motto, but I believe it s as simple as that.
How does a usual day at work look like for you?
I mostly work in the main office in Munich, sometimes Berlin. Tasks vary, development of new scripts, putting together packages and a creative team with one vision, sometimes financing, postproduction, marketing, I m also dealing with music cooperations regarding our films.
Salvador Dalí, Fatih Akin, friends of mine and Jürgen Klopp!
What do you think of the German Film? Which personalities play a decisive role here?
I always liked watching german films and I can’t understand the antipathy against it. There s definitely some films that were probably not performing superwell at the box office but are worth watching. I have the impression that the international view on german film is changing these days, it gets taken more seriously than before. Especially when it comes to comedies there s the saying „german humour doesn t travel“. It s true in a way, but I think it changes bit by bit and hopefully more in the future. When it comes to german directors heading to Hollywood these days you should watch out for Baran bo Odar and Sebastian Schipper.
At the Set © Pantaleon Films | Warner Bros. Entertainment | ARRI Media
How do you experience going to the cinema compared to the times when you weren’t working in the film business, is it different now?
I am also an average filmgoer. If a film is well made, I don t experience it differently than before working in film business. If it isn’t that well I catch myself thinking about production conditions, why things look like they do on screen. That means I ve kind of lost the story which is a bad sign. But it must also happen to any other person except they maybe think of finally calling their grandma or that their laundry is still in the washing machine. Sometimes my job changes the experience of a film after I ve seen it. Usually I would just think about the story or the characters if it was an interesting film. If it is impressive and special now I also think one step further or behind, how it was done, how much effort this it must ve been to do this and that, I m looking at more details.
Which of your three favorite movies should we watch?
You should only watch The Misfortunates by Felix van Groeningen. It s the only film I ve seen three times in cinema, even before I started working in the business. One second you have a lump in your throat, next thing you know you start laughing. The breaks between drama and comedy are incredible and unique, I have never seen this before. You could also watch Best of the Southern Wild by Benh Zeitlin because it is pure magic.
If money would be no issue, what kind of film would you produce?
I would take a lot of time to unite a unique crew and cast and to develop a timeless story. It would be a mixture of Coen, Godard, Wilder, Scorsese, Coppola, Tarantino and Charlie Chaplin. I would invest in a time traveling machine and take young Mickey Rourke, Jack Nicholson and Jean Seberg with me for the shooting.
Your biggest success so far?
Being lucky and thankful having the friends I got and the ability to get up every day being optimistic. Also, winning the audience award, which is the best if you ask me, at Busan International Film Festival in South Korea for Highway to Hellas was a great experience. It s a great festival I didn t know much about before I went there.
Which projects are planned next?
Creating european cinema! And I m developing an international series – it’s a surprise –, that I would also like to see on screen as a consumer.
Daniel’s first film Highway to Hellas is playing in the cinemas right now.
Definitely worth seeing. The trailer is right here:
Header: © Luis Kuhn