A film about filmmaking: Behind the scenes with mockumentary director Carlo Opperman

After creating the brilliant mockumentary ‘Eddie: For the love of video‘, we caught up with German director Carlo Opperman to go behind the scenes on the short film, which was commissioned by HP as part of their Keep Reinventing campaign.

 

Tell us a bit about the film! How did you come up with the idea?

Being constantly surrounded by colleagues and creative people, you automatically develop this very specific form of humour that applies to your specific profession. From time to time you realise that all the people around you feel the same and you are not alone with the ups & downs connected to working in a creative job. Basically I wanted to portrait a funny and ironic example of my own lifestyle and of the people I work with. I wanted to make the target audience feel understood. It definitely has its autobiographic elements 😉

If you keep looking for challenges and you’re not afraid to take them, you’ll reinvent yourself along the way.

‘Keep Reinventing’ is a fitting campaign for HP, but also a nice motto for all filmmakers. How do you keep reinventing your own style?

In my opinion there is no recipe, but one thing I learned for myself: If you keep looking for challenges and you’re not afraid to take them, you’ll reinvent yourself along the way. You’ll have to. Jump in the water and you’ll learn how to swim.

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You worked with an impressive team for this one, including Lukas Klaschinski who played Eddie, but also the animals! What was that like?

It was the most fun I had directing something in a long time. Compared to a normal commercial, music video or film production that is supposed to meet visual standards of quality, we radically scaled down the crew on this one. It’s been just Lukas (Eddie), Christian on camera, Patrick recording audio and myself directing & producing. The documentary/mockumentary style of the film made this possible and necessary. That’s probably why it was so much fun: It was a professional, yet incredible creative experience. We were able to improvise a lot and just see where the scenes would take us. We shot a scene each day and really had an incredible week. There wasn’t the usual rush and time pressure because of extra hours and big crews. Just four friends making their little movie, as cliché as it sounds.

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Aside from all Eddie’s brilliant gear, what did you shoot the film on?

We shot it mostly on our own gear, to be flexible and fast. Sony FS700, handheld, zoom lens. Both the DOP Christian Alsan and myself are touring with bands around the globe – so we are used to “run-and-gun” filming. We knew how much a funny moment could be ruined by big and slow equipment. E.g. It’s all available light in the film. Personally I think most filmmakers (and I’ve done it myself) are slowing down their creative potential by adding the coolest, latest, biggest camera & gear to their production. Its not about the gear, its about the story.

You’ve worked on a range of film styles, but really nail the comedy in this mockumentary. What do you think is most important for directing comedy work?

Thanks! Its been my first time directing a funny film to be honest. Compared to other styles, it needs to be figured out on set a lot more. The only way to find out whether it’s funny or not, is to act and film it. It’s a lot of timing and improvisation trial & error. It would have been impossible with a packed storyboard and a big crew, because we needed the first 1-2 days to figure out the character and the best way to deliver the jokes.

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We kind of wish some of the gear in the film was real! What was your favourite of Eddie’s equipment?

The idea machine. That would save me a lot of frustration and self-doubts haha.

What do you think we can learn from Eddie?

Eddie is someone with a very clear goal and purpose – no one can stop him. Maybe we can learn from him to do what we love and do it with all our heart. On the other hand he makes a mistake all of us do from time to time, especially filmmakers: He needs to realize that he’s not a doctor who’s saving lifes, he’s not changing the world, he’s not fighting for any particular greater cause. He’s just making entertainment and/or art. Calm down, relax – its not the end of the world if you dont get that shot, Eddie. Perseverance is great, but there are more important things in life, even though looking through the cameras viewfinder we sometimes forget that.

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A very special thanks to Carlo for chatting to us. Check out more of his work here, and see our latest filmmaking briefs here.