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Interview – Felix Ahrens – ‘Where The Woods End’ – A Short Film

 

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Posted November 8, 2016 by

 
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Interview – Felix Ahrens

Felix Ahrens, born in 1986 in Germany. After graduating from secondary school, he completed several internships at filmproductions. After that, he worked as a production manager for TV commercials. Ahrens co-founded Curly Pictures film production which produces commercials and documentaries. In 2012, he started studying film directing at the Film University Babelsberg – here we interview Felix, discussing his latest film ‘Where The Woods End’…

Trailer:

Interview:

To begin with, tell us about your latest film ‘Where The Woods End’ – where did the idea come from?

My cameraman Stephan Buske went on vacation to Saxonia, a region in Germany where there are boarders to the Czech Republic. He told me that as when he was hiking through the Woods he was followed by policemen and eventually stopped, then asked what he was doing oat the border. He didn’t really know he was trespassing, as he was only there to hike. It turns out, that hiking route was also a smuggling route for crystal meth dealers from the Czech Republic. When he told me the story, I found it so interesting that I immediately started researching it. I found out that the German regions bordering the Czech Republic really do have difficulties with drug smuggling and he crime rate between 2009 and 2015 increased up to three times in that region. I got together with screenwriter Lucas Flasch and we started to develop a storyline involving the facts I had discovered. Meanwhile, an officer in Munich shot an 18 year old in his occiput for dealing with marijuana. He claimed to have aimed at his leg, I then we came up with the idea of an officer who shoots an innocent Czech at the boarder to Germany.

How did you get involved with the film?

The German TV station MDR had a slot for a short film. The two most important things for the TV station was that the film shouldn’t last longer than 30 minutes, and that it needed to deal with the topic ‘borderless’. I applied for it with a vague idea of WHERE THE WOODS END in early 2015. The commissioning editors green lighted the film right away and we began shooting 4 months later.

Lets talk about the cast, who stars in ‘Where The Woods End’?

Henrike von Kuick has always been on my mind as the lead, even while working on the script. I have known her as an actress for quite a time and there is something very special about her eyes, that has always made me very curious about her. It was awesome to finally work with her. Tom Keune, Elkes colleaque, has been part of the cast of my award winning short film VACUUM. Ever since we wanted to work together again. Henrike and Tom are both known in Germany. Their credits include the popular German television shows Tatort, Die Spezialisten and Soko Leipzig.

When it comes to my Czech actors, it really wasn’t that easy, especially as a big part of my cast is Czech. Before the shoot, I had never been to the Czech Rebublic, nor did I know anyone from this country. I had no budget for a casting director, so I was panicking when we got closer to the shoot and I hadn’t found any Czech actors. In the end, I borrowed a friend’s car and just drove to Prague. I slept a week in a cheap hostel and ran around like a crazy person, looking for actors, telling everyone about my film. Eventually I met people on the streets, in bars, and people from the Czech drama school. I told them how in need I was of Czech actors and set up an open casting in Praque. Luckily my work was rewarded! After days of casting I found my amazing cast! I was truly relieved.

What are your influences as a director?

I am influenced most by all kinds of images. Paintings, photographs and all kinds of films, even commercial films. So when I have a slight idea of the style of my film, the pace, the colours and the camera, I would go through my collection of images and try to find moods. I would watch films that I find related to my ideas. So when I am in an advanced phase of writing, I am really searching for inspiration and I don’t wait for it to come.

What top filmmaking tips would you give the readers of FilmDebate?

Don’t be vain, making films isn’t about you, if the cinematographers idea is better than yours take it.

Where & when can we expect to see ‘Where The Woods End’?

WHERE THE WOODS END is touring in several film festivals. After having premiered and being screened at German film festivals. I am happy that the film was part of the Student Academy Award in Los Angeles and will now have its Austrian and Estonian premieres. So hopefully WHERE THE WOODS END will be shown at many other festivals and hopefully near you 😉

What is the next step for you? Do you have any other projects in production?

I am going to shoot my first feature length film at the beginning of 2018 in Germany. The film is called DISTANT LANDS and is about a young girl who is forced to smuggle guns from Croatia to Germany, via Austria and the Czech Republic. It has a lot in common with WHERE THE WOODS END – it’s also a combination of drama and thriller. I have a brilliant management in Los Angeles, so in the meantime we are looking for scripts for my Hollywood debut. A couple of months ago I wouldn’t have had the guts to say this, but since winning the Student Academy Award, a lot of doors have opened and I am confident that I will be working in both Germany and the US in future.

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