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GFQ 1_2013

Contact Philipp Stölzl stoelzl@snafu.de script, give it your all and nothing gets green-lit! It’s the reality of the business unfortunately.” How does he do his thing? “I get a script,” Stölzl explains, “I look for what suits me. You have an instinct. I’m making my third historical film. I know I am good at creating worlds, I’m experi- enced, you have a feeling. It’s not that you want to do that for- ever, but it is a security thing and I feel safe and the cast is in good hands.” Stölzl goes on to explain that a script has to evoke “a spark of love. In many cases you know after ten pages if you’re com- patible. Every time is exciting. I try to read them in real time, in one go, hoping the spark becomes a flame. You have your own taste, of course, and that gives you more enthusiasm.” Stölzl’s films “are involved with history, literature, a bit of music. I grew up in a home with grand pianos and Goethe. I heard my first Wagner from my father’s LPs. There were many photos and art books. I’m at home in this world, I like living in it. I instinc- tively seek out projects within this world.” Entertainment, for Stölzl, does not mean lightweight, quite the opposite. “I tend towards heavy themes,” he explains. “NORTH FACE is quite heavyweight, about death, survival, politics, Nazis, an ice storm. YOUNG GOETHE IN LOVE is a bit lighter, it’s a romantic love story but also has painful moments. THE PHYSICIAN is similar: there is a great deal of religious conflict, power politics, war fanaticism, all solid stuff.” As to his methods, Stölzl is “always very involved with the writing, most of the time co-writing the script. It moves the film faster into production and on set, where things are different anyway, you know exactly what is meant and can make quick decisions, find quick solutions. I also love working with others, love dialogue and the teamwork of filmmaking, whatever stage of the process.” Stölzl seeks “to create a climate with actors and camera and crew where everyone can give something. I’m a director where actors can say when something is not right and make sugges- tions. There is always this large machine running so you have to create a relaxed atmosphere and freedom. Every day is new, you have only so many shooting days, you have to get to the point, which limits what you can try and experiment with.” NORTH FACE and GOETHE “cost around €7 million,” Stölzl ex- plains. “THE PHYSICIAN is some €20 million, but you always find it’s not enough! The budget has to fit what you want to make. It’s silly if the story is too big! THE PHYSICIAN was a long shoot because it’s also made as a TV two-parter, so you are ma- king two times ninety minutes. In the end, though, whatever the budget, you are always nervous at the start and there is no big difference in the end. But when you have actors like Stellan Skarsgård and Ben Kingsley the whole ’star’ thing is not so im- portant. It’s very uncomplicated on set and they were both great to work with.” Stölzl is also a big fan of post-production, “for what you can ex- perience in terms of surprises, both good and bad. You find an actor you were concerned about is good, a scene no longer functions so well, or works better elsewhere. Films are like kids, they grow, have their own heads almost, you don’t know what will come out. It’s a bit scary but also a great and exciting jour- ney. Then you get to see how an audience perceives it, will they find their way in this world or not?” Whilst he has no plans to produce, it’s still “never say never” for Stölzl. He takes his two boys, aged five and nine, to the set and the cinema, where “films rated FSK 6 are often strong enough! I recently saw VINCENT AND THE SECRET OF CROCODILE MANSION. Very good movie, but it’s THE SHINING for kids!” He is also a lover of Pixar’s films, “I have them all here. They are so well written and surprising. They get you every time. I often end up quoting them! The way they structure stories, build emotions, totally perfect, absolutely great. I even cried in TOY STORY 3! And you can also watch them with kids! They’ve yet to see any of my films as they’re too violent!” THE PHYSICIAN will be ready for Christmas 2013, then it’s back to opera and development for Stölzl. “I want to make a film about Richard Wagner,” he says. “There hasn’t been a good one yet and it could be really great, something made for me! Not a classical biopic but about the premiere of The Ring in 1870 in Bayreuth. He created his own monster trilogy, you know. There are diaries about rehearsals, treading the line between disaster and madness. The music is great, it could be a theatrical feature. It’s my heart’s project so I’m not rushing it.” Simon Kingsley  PHILIPP STÖLZL was born in Munich in 1967. After high school he by-passed university, survived civilian service and be- came a theater intern, working as an assistant for various pro- duction designers at the legendary Munich Kammerspiele theater. He then freelanced as a production designer, creating sets and costumes all over Germany until, at the end of his 20s, he “decided to look for a new challenge.” That turned out to be music videos, which he wrote, art directed and directed. He made them for, amongst others, Madonna, Garbage, Faith No More and Rammstein, which also enabled him to move into commercials and theatrical features. His first fiction film, BABY (2002), “a small tragicomedy, quite arthouse,” was followed four years later by NORTH FACE (2008), a man versus mountain drama. Two years later came YOUNG GOETHE IN LOVE (2010). One year after that he made his foray into Hollywood with the action film THE EXPATRIATE (2012). Currently, he is in post-pro- duction on the medieval epic THE PHYSICIAN, based on Noah Gordon’s bestselling novel. For the past six years he has also followed a second career, directing and stage designing opera, aiming “to do one every year, high-level stuff.” GFQ 1-2013 7 DIRECTOR PORTRAITYOUNGGOETHEINLOVE(photo©deutschfilm2010) S.06-07_Philipp_Stoelzl_Layout 1 25.01.13 09:34 Seite 2

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