Director Florian Reittner picked up a Gold Screen in the Super Short category. Here, he explains how the absurdity of life aligned with the sadness of a funeral inspired him, and why the subject of a film should not determine its mood.
Did you always want to direct, and what is it about directing that you enjoy the most?
Yes, I always wanted to direct. I just didn’t realise it before I got into making films. Making up stories and visuals in my head was a big part of my past time as a kid.
Later, when I realised that you can make a job out of exactly that, I was hooked. Giving those images and stories a home in my films is what I love most about directing.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Emotions inspire me the most. A feeling carries everything: the story, the mood, the context, the build-up, the climax. Making emotions visible and audible is really all I try to do.
What was the inspiration behind The Giving Dead?
My inspiration was, most of all, a feeling. I once went to an incredibly sad funeral. It was one of those occasions where you think nothing can ever be okay again. Then, as everybody left, still stricken by what had happened, nobody could figure out the ticket machine for the parking.
We were standing there, all in black and in complete silence, fumbling around with the stupid computer when somebody started laughing. The situation was so ridiculous; it was really all you could do. And, in a matter of seconds, we were all roaring. It didn’t make that day less sad, but it made everyone remember how to smile. Life is weird like that.
Was it important to you to use humour to convey a sensitive subject matter?
Absolutely. The subject of the film should not necessarily determine its mood. I wanted to offer a different angle on something we all know but prefer not to think about. If I made you not only think but also laugh about death, I achieved what I aimed for.
What is about the short film format that appeals to you?
I love a film that makes every second count. As much as I respect a long and winding tale, it’s the one-two punch movies that leave me in awe. Those that sweep me away, make me hold my breath and ignore my phone.
It’s this characteristic that makes the short film and commercial scene so very interesting to me. And, if I ever get the chance to make a feature, it’s with this attention to every second that I would tackle it.
How long did it take you to make the film, and what was the most challenging aspect of its creation?
It took about eight months from concept to the final film. The most challenging part was preparing the background for the volume stage. I had never shot a virtual production before and there were many uncertainties initially. Luckily, I had an amazing team who knew much more than me and helped me develop the visuals.
Are there thing you learned on this film which you’ll carry forwards into other productions?
Yes; that a good team can make almost everything possible.
What does it mean to you to win a YDA?
It feels like a fluffy panda baby on my head. A little strange but awesome at the same time. I don’t know how I deserved it but I will gladly take it for a spin.
What are you working on at the moment?
In October, I will be shooting a pilot for a fantasy horror series. That should be very exciting! In the meantime, I have two smaller projects coming up.
The most significant project on my horizon is what I hope to be a shoot in India during the winter, but I am still in the process of securing funds for that.
Interview by Izzy Ashton shots