Interview with director Sebastian Friedmann

SHORT BIO OF THE DIRECTOR: Sebastian Friedmann was born on October 17, 1996 in Durban, South Africa. His father is Swiss and his mother is Peruvian. He has traveled a lot and lived in Bogota, Brussels and Fribourg where he spent most of his high school years. He then obtained a Bachelor’s degree in film direction at the ECAL/Ecole Cantonale D’art de Lausanne in 2021.

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

When I discovered the magic of editing and sound design. I love how similar it is to music.

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

Not at all. What it gives you it’s some time and means to experiment with shooting movies. It’s a good way of feeling legitimacy in making movies. Also, you get to meet passionate people with whom you’re likely to work in the future.

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

This movie which was my diploma film, took almost a year to make. In the end, in post-production, it was really difficult to keep a distant eye and to know which decisions to make. What I did is that I worked with some people that I trusted and who I knew could understand the project.

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

Again, people. Knowing who to work with. Not wanting to do everything by yourself. Also, it’s okay not to know exactly where you’re going but having enough confidence to bend your script to the reality of shooting and needs of editing.

  • 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?

We shot in a thermal bath which was closed during the pandemic. This was great because it was easier to shoot but we still needed to make this place feel alive. So the extras were really important, we chose each of them for particular needs of the scenes. We needed a wide range of people, because if you only have your friends and everyone has the same age, it’s not credible. It was difficult to manage all these different people, sometimes we didn’t have enough so we changed their clothes or shot in different ways.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

I remember in another fiction movie I did in 2020, we made a sequence shot which took us a lot of time and effort to create and in the end as I was editing the movie, it just didn’t fit in the movie, it was too long. So for the benefit of the movie we had to cut it.

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

School is a great way for making relationships strong. Most of the people I work with are friends.

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

I think when you watch a movie, you’re always asking yourself tiny questions about what’s going on. The difficult role of the filmmaker is to know which questions to answer and which to leave unanswered.

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

When it comes to short movies I think festivals are essential because they are one of the only ways you get to share your work with other people. Every screening is different, the movie will feel differently depending on the audience who’s watching it. So, I love discussing the movie with new people and travelling to festivals is a great way for doing that.

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

I believe each person has a particular way of seeing the world and when you find a way of communicating it with film it creates something new. So yes, film should be original, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use safe classic ways. One should try every way until you find your own.