[Thomas Hartel] „Streichen“ – One minute short film and the story behind
PIREJ: Tell us something about you. What’s your story? (in a nutshell)
THOMAS HARTEL: My name is Thomas Hartel and I’m a filmmaker. Age and place of birth: I’m 29 years old and I was born and raised in Mannheim, Germany. After my studies in industrial engineering I worked for almost two years in a company where I just didn’t belong. I earned a lot of money and my boss was one of the coolest and funniest person I have ever met, yet I decided that I need to change something or otherwise I might end up in a downward spiral straight to depression. Some people say work isn’t meant to be fun or fulfilling, but I disagree, and I sure as hell didn’t want a life full of ‘What ifs’. So, at age 24 I booked a one way ticket to Australia. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I enjoyed my freedom. I met some of the most memorable people from all over the world. And realizing I’m not alone in this made me enjoy it even more. For one year I travelled throughout Australia and then I ended up staying two more. I had the opportunity to establish my own business in the waste management sector. I keep that bit short: It didn’t work out, but I’ve learned so much about myself, about being self-employed and working in an organised and structured manner, from which I still benefit today. And after my beautiful girlfriend (who is now my fiancée) came to stay with me in Western Australia, we eventually decided that it’s time to move on. But where to next? A few stops in South East Asia of course and then New Zealand it is. Makes sense seeing we’re already so close. I actually wanted to go to Canada, but what men want and what they ultimately get are often two very different things. In hindsight thank god for that, because it was in New Zealand where I finally found what I wanted to do. Like for real for real and hopefully for the rest of my life. I want to make films. How did I come to this realization? I did a guided tour at Weta Workshops in Wellington and from that moment on I knew. Weta Workshops is a special effects and prop company for television and film. So, after a tour through one of their workplaces, called ‘Weta Cave’, where among other things, they forged weapons and armor for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I knew I want to be a part of the film industry. I want to tell stories and preferably one day on the big screen.
PIREJ: What is the short film about?
THOMAS HARTEL: I produced the short film for the ‘Filmstro & Film Riot One Minute Short Film Competition’ on YouTube, conducted by Film Riot in association with Filmstro. Film Riot one of the most established YouTube channels, which offers tips, techniques and tutorials to up and coming filmmakers in an easy to understand and hilarious way. As the title of the competition indicates, the short was only allowed to be 60 seconds long and not a frame over. Furthermore, every film submitted had to use a specific program to design the music, which in this case is the Soundtrack Creation Studio called Filmstro. Other than that, no specifications as to dialogue or genre. My short ‘Streichen’ which translates to ‘Painting’ in English is about a couple who paint their apart-ment, in which they’ve just moved in together and they need paint, crimson color. It’s a little macabre I admit, but what can I say I like it like that. Now I know it’s not going to change anyone’s life or it doesn’t bring across a socio-critical message, but it is in fact my first ever project. That is kind of a big deal for every filmmaker. After a long time of studying and learning the trade in theory as well as buying expensive gear, including camera, lenses, tripods, lighting and sound equipment I was ready to go… but (there is always a ‘but’) I was just overwhelmed by the amount of planning and meticulous pre-production needed and ultimately too afraid to fail, which is why I didn’t start for a long time. And bear in mind that was just for a short film. Everybody can make films nowadays and has access to gear and tutorials, but only a few ever become good at their craft and even fewer become successful. But once I managed to let unrealistic expectations about success and negative thoughts about failure go, I, with the help of three kind and generous friends, managed to make a short film.
‘PIREJ: Who helped you out?
THOMAS HARTEL: Fenna Westerberger plays the woman in the short film. It is also her first acting experience, but she is incredibly talented and already very professional. Aleksandar Sekulov plays the pizza delivery guy and gave an Oscar-worthy performance . He as well has never acted before, but does it remarkably well, which is why I’d like to work with both again in the future! Fenna and Aleksandar are friends from my current workplace and they were keen to help and experience for themselves what it’s like to act and be part of something creative. The camera was operated by another friend named Philip Hoheisel, who is self-employed in the field of videography, web hosting and media design, and who is also a passionate YouTube vlogger. Basically, the perfect friend to have, because he has substantial experience with camera gear and editing. We had a great and really fun time. I plan on releasing a director’s cut soon, because we gathered enough material to make the short film somewhere between 3-5 minutes long. But for the competition we really had to advance the story quickly and cut short. And I promise you, even if you don’t like the story of the short itself, the outtakes which I will release with the director’s cut will bring a huge smile to your face! I want to thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself and the incredible cast who worked with me. Be sure, there is plenty more to come. Small steps of course and hopefully with every project we get better at using visual and audio media to tell stories that affect and entertain.