This week’s filmmaker spotlight is on Director/Writer Maximilian von Vier of The Host. Von Vier’s film was selected to be part of the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles screenings at Sunset Gower Studios this month. Learn about the film, his inspirations, goals and current projects.
Name/Position: Maximilian von Vier, Director & Writer
Film: The Host
Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you’ve been working on it.
“The Host” was a rather improvised project, actually. I had just finished shooting another short film, “Sanctuary”, and I still had a month left before heading abroad so I came up with a new story in 2 days and launched the project. I wrote the script in one weekend and immediately started preproduction, followed by a 3-day shoot, so it all went rather quickly. Postproduction then took a while as I was working on both films simultaneously, ultimately completing them in late September 2011.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank for helping out with this film?
My favorite young actor and great friend Danny de Lillo, who really made the whole project more fun than work. It’s always a huge pleasure to work with him.
How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at Sunset Gower Studios?
It’s my first U.S. Premiere and I’m really excited about it, especially since the project was completely improvised. It’s quite rewarding to see it go that far.
What inspires you?
More than inspiration, I’d say it’s an intense urge to create that drives me. Visual narrative is my biggest passion and what gives purpose to my life. I feel a constant need to be creative: it can be a film, a comic book, a script etc. To me, a day without creation is a wasted day. If I stop creating, then it means I have nothing more to say. And if I have nothing to say, it means that I’ve reached the end of my learning curve both as an artist and as an individual. Next stop: Valhalla. Hell no.
Who are your influences and who do you admire?
I’ve started my artistic career as a comic book author, so there is definitely a comics and Manga influence in my work, especially from Japanese artists such as Otomo Katsuhiro, the creator of Akira. As for filmmakers, I admire Christopher Nolan for his ability to come up with mind-bending narratives, and James Cameron for nearly reinventing filmmaking every time he comes up with a new project. And of course I grew up watching Mr Spielberg’s movies, which touched me as a kid and still do it just the same now.
What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?
It’s a very tough and competitive industry, as always with everything that’s art related. Most people give up halfway through because only a handful people manage to make it to a professional level, leaving only the lucky and the blindly passionate. I belong to the second category, so there’s no quitting option for me. I’ll keep doing it until my career takes off.
If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?
Um… The day James Cameron hands me a script and tells me “I’m too busy to direct this story, you have a go Max”, I’ll probably accept the offer!
What is the toughest experience you’ve ever had to overcome?
I’d say in a general way, self-confidence is something I’m working on. I’m a complete self-taught so one day I just decided to grab a camera, write a story and shoot a film. I had absolutely no idea how to do it, but eventually I made my first short film come to life. I’m gaining experience with every new project I make, but every film is different and each shoot does come with its lot of unexpected difficulties that need to be sorted out on the spot. Sometimes you feel like the whole shoot will have to be cancelled because one of the actors tells you 2 days before that he can’t make it, which leaves you with no choice but to come up with a plan B right away. You have to learn how to tackle issues immediately, as your schedule and budget won’t allow you to hesitate. As a director, the outcome of a project depends mostly on you. Will you make it happen, or is the whole project turning into a disaster? It’s about making the best possible decision and sticking to it, even if there is no guarantee of success in the end. That’s quite a challenge.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?
Look both ways before crossing the road. Oh, film related? “If it’s not happening… Make it happen!” No, actually that’s from me. I wish someone else had told me that, though.
What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?
Be honest with yourself. Everybody wants to make a name for themselves in the industry, but they should ask themselves: why am I doing it? Do I love it enough to give it the priority over my personal and social life? Am I willing to commit 100% of my time and energy to it? If the answer to one of these questions is no, then it’s probably more realistic to consider a career reorientation.
Where can we expect to see you next?
I’ll be in Shanghai for a few months as part of the Swatch Art Peace Hotel artistic program, and then in London on the set of my next film, BUNKER 59. This 90 min survival thriller will be my debut feature and shooting is scheduled for March 2013.
Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Not really. You?
I hope you’ll enjoy the film!