Interview with director Anna Ludwig

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

While writing a short story or a novel I had always imagined how my written words could look like as a film, which actors I’d choose etc. But it took quite a while until I realized that I could turn this sort of mind game into reality and be a director myself. So, after being a teacher at Highschool, working at several advertising agencies and writing novels and short stories for children, I finally made this dream come true and studied Film and Television. Last year I graduated.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

Good teachers are priceless and film institutes are good for networking as well. But I think if you have the connections, great talent and a strong will you can do it without a film institute as well.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

In my case it was harder to get started as I had to quit a job and abstain from earning money at a stage when I already had a family and two children, but I’m sure that it was the right decision.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

For me the most important lesson was to always stay patient and confident as film making is such a lengthy process. Actually, I like quick results, but it took over one year and a half to finalize “Ole, Benni and the Rest of the Universe” – a short film of only 23 minutes. You can’t make films without a lot of staying power, so what I learned the most is persistence.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

I think we were quite lucky as we didn’t have to make too many compromises. I learned how important it is to stay flexible. The spaceship, for example, was supposed to fall off the rooftop – but I couldn’t find the right location. So, we ended up burning it down – and this new solution delivered even more spectacular pictures!

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

Most of the team members were students at my film institute. I am working on a new script now which is a quite lonely process and sometimes I miss to have colleagues! But I am talking to the editor of “Ole, Benni and the Rest of The Universe” on the phone nearly every week, for example, to keep each other up-to-date and stay in touch.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

I think audiences want to be emotionally touched. To have a good, original story which you think is important to tell and which you are passionate about is the best condition to touch the audience and not to bore it (what I think is the worst thing that can happen). But never do things you don’t like yourself just because you presume that the audience might like it.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

If you make a short, you certainly want to show it! I’m happy that there are so many online festivals right now and I have the chance to show “Ole, Benni and the Rest of the Universe” despite the pandemic. Film festivals are also great for networking but right now we can’t benefit from that. I hope there’ll be at least some open-air festivals this summer to get acquainted to other filmmakers.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

I think if all movies would stick to the same pattern it would be quite boring for the audience. So, it’s good to be fresh and original – and daring!