WIFVNE Intern Dina Klein recently sat down with Thomas Stuber, director of IN THE AISLES, which Music Box Films will release in 2019. IN THE AISLES is part of the “..And The Winners Are…” film festival. For the first time, the German Film Academy and the Goethe-Institut are joining together to exhibit award-winning German Films around the world. All films selected were winners or nominees for either the prestigious German Film Awards 2018 or the First Steps Awards 2017.
How old were you when you knew you wanted to work in film?
I was a teenager, around 15.
How much of your own life experiences do you put into your films?
A lot, just a lot. I think there is more to it than life experiences. You have find story and characters, but the real driving force and perspective you put in the story comes from your life experiences.
Which directors are you biggest influences?
There is a lot, I’d say Fassbender, Luchino Visconti, and Roy Anderson.
You are a writer and a director, do you prefer directing or do you prefer writing?
I love and like both. Mostly when I have written I have written and then directed. So it is tied together. But I’ve also written screenplays that I have not directed myself. I like both. Shooting is a tough period of work; I like the writing part and the editing part the most.
Is it harder to direct a piece you haven’t written? Or do you enjoy being able to take someone’s work and make it your own?
Both have their advantages. If you direct something you have written yourself the whole process is in your hands, it starts with your idea and ends with your idea. But on the other side it is very interesting and challenging and inspiring to look upon someone else’s work, and that describes the whole filmmaking process because it’s always about, I believe, to change perspective on things and to get your colleagues point of view.
You direct and write mostly drama, have you considered attempting other genres?
I have done other genres; I just finished an action movie. Of course there is drama in there too. For example In the Aisles I consider it a tragic comedy. So I do like other genres as well because all of them have a percentage of drama in them. And sometimes the genre is very interesting because you can express yourself much easier if you do not have to focus on 100% drama.
What was your biggest influence in writing In the Aisles?
It is an adaptation, it is based on a short story, and so the author of the short story Clemens Meyer was my biggest influence. I co-wrote it with him too.
You have written with a partner, specifically with Clemens Meyer on multiple projects. How do you compare the process of writing with a partner versus solo?
I like writing in a partnership because you are not alone. You can talk, you can ask questions, and you can balance out the work. I like the process of doing it together.
How is does you process differ from making a short film to a feature film?
Well first a feature film is more expensive, secondly it takes more time to shoot and prepare. Besides that there not much that’s different in the process. I would even go so far as to say every good short film can be transformed into a feature film.
What is the message you hope your films send to the audience? Specifically In The Aisles?
I don’t have any messages. No message, I’m not a politician; I’m just a filmmaker and storyteller so I’m far from having any messages.
In terms of criticism, do you pay more attention to the film critics or your fans?
You mean the audience? Well if you make films like I do in mostly the art house world you can not do your work without critics because you don’t get an audience without the critics because the critics put it in the paper. That’s different from mainstream blockbusters. I truly believe that there is no film without any audience. You cannot make any films without the audience so first and most importantly I make it for the audience.
What is your favorite film of all time?
I don’t have one.
What is your favorite film that you have made?
My favorite film I have made?
Or all they all your babies?
They are all my babies, of course they are all my babies! I like In the Aisles very much.
If you weren’t a filmmaker, what job could you see yourself doing?
I don’t know.
It never crossed your mind?
Well it crossed my mind and I found out filmmaking is probably the only thing I can do. Maybe a gardener, planting trees.
The world does need more trees.
Landscape architect, that’s what I would do. Create parks, you know?
Thank you so much for doing this interview.
Thank you for having me.
IN THE AISLES Summary: After the shy and reclusive Christian (Franz Rogowski – HAPPY END, TRANSIT) loses his job, he starts to work for a wholesale market. Bruno from the Beverage aisle takes him under his wing, showing him the ropes and patiently teaching him how to operate the fork lift. In the aisles, he meets Marion (Sandra Hüller – TONI ERDMANN) and is instantly smitten by her mysterious charm. The coffee machine becomes their regular meeting point and the two start to get to know each other. But Marion is married and Christian’s feelings for her seem to remain unrequited, especially when Marion does not return to work one day. Christian slowly becomes a member of the wholesale market family and his days of driving fork lifts and stacking shelves mean much more to him than meets the eye.