Tell us about yourself. How did you become an artist? My name is Alexander Knauer and I’m a 26 years old filmmaker from Germany. I was always fascinated by painting and photography and I experimented a lot in this areas during my youth. I was 20 years old, when I shot my first short film with a group of friends. Nothing fancy, just a simple story about growing up. I was immediately hooked with the whole process of filmmaking.
What was your first job in the art field? As I mentioned, I started with Photography and gained experience while working in different advertising agencies. Thinking of images, compositions and light became a big part of my life. Later I got into filmmaking and I fell in love with it. At this point I decided to become a director.
What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work? The most important subject in my work is the relationship between human beings and their behavior in these relationships. Every single aspect is so fascinating: How they talk to each other (with words, gestures or views), how they deal with trust, love, betrayal, hope etc. I don’t want to judge with my work, nor do I want to set up any wisdoms. I just want to tell stories about human interaction. Before I became a filmmaker, I wanted to be a psychologist. Maybe filmmaking is nowadays my medium to get to know and understand people better.
Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project? I’m a „visual person“. Most of my projects start with a simple image in my mind. Sometimes I don’t have a topic or an idea for a plot at this stage. But when this image is really present in my mind, it often stimulates my creativity. I try to draw it and the thoughts that are connected with it. I start to do mind maps and the first words for a new story will follow soon.
Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you? In my opinion, every movie, every commercial or every music video I watched, had a specific influence on my mindset and my work (consciously or unconsciously). But of course there are a few names that pop up in my head. I love the work of Federico Fellini and Andrei Tarkovski, they are masters of atmosphere, composition and rhythm. I also really admire the work of Robert Eggers and Jeff Nichols - two young directors with very specific style in their films. At the moment I take a step in narrative commercial filmmaking. My interest for it began, when I saw „Vintersaga“, a Volvo commercial from Gustav Johansson. All of his work is so powerful, emotional and visually stunning - it’s amazing. The same goes for the two directors Salomon Ligthelm and Jared Clayton. I would say, these guys have the biggest influence on my work at the moment.
How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation? In the first weeks of the COVID pandemic, many shoots were cancelled due to the uncertainty that came along. But I experienced a fast learning curve how to deal with COVID. Production companies integrated hygienic concepts to their workflow. I felt like everybody on set was so happy to shoot again. It was nice to feel this positivity.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid? In my opinion, the most important things are an open mindset and endurance. It’s important to experiment with different ideas, styles, genres etc. Especially when you start doing films. You always have to be open for new input - talk to people, travel around the world etc. Every new experience will make your work richer. There’s always something you can learn. On the other hand it’s important to follow a goal with endurance. Not every film or project will be a success. I experienced this many times… But when you stay focussed and realize that every failure is just a part of learning, you’re on a good way.
Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world? Yes, of course. Facts or objective reports don’t touch people. Emotional stories and films do.
What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste? I’m not sure if the pandemic changed peoples taste, but I think it had proper influence on their watching behavior. The cinemas were closed, everybody watched films and shows at home. Streaming platforms like Netflix or AmazonVideo got more important and this trend continues. Everyone must decide for themselves whether this is good or bad.
Please tell us about your upcoming projects. At the moment I’m working on a script for a short film about an unconventional relationship between an asexual woman and a guy, who isn’t able to touch skin. Furthermore, there are some ideas and concepts for commercials in the making.