An Interview With Nicolai Tegeler

Decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall Singer Marco Hoffmann has reached the height of his popularity. Suddenly, the ex-frontman of the East German rock combo DIE KOSMONAUTEN is accused of being by his former band colleague Volker Hinze, that "IM singer" who betrayed him to the Stasi at that time. Hinze demands a meeting, otherwise he threatens his evidence to the press and destroying Hoffmann's life like him

destroyed his life. Although Hoffmann assures his innocence, he still relies on the conspiratorial Meet with Hinze.

It was our pleasure to interview Nicolai Tegeler, the award winning director of this independent feature film.

What draws you to filmmaking and the cinematic language?

What appeals to me about films is the audiovisual possibilities and of course the proximity of the camera to the respective protagonists. In contrast to the theater, with a film I can bring the viewer closer to emotions, scenes, and situations, and I find that very exciting. In addition, the viewers often watch movies in a familiar, cozy place, such as at home on the couch or in bed or on mobile devices in the plane, on the train, etc.


Here I can take the viewer straight from their everyday life into a fictional world - at the theater, the visitor decides to go to the place of "the happening" - at the film I can "kidnap" the audience everywhere.


Do you believe in film schools or does making a film teach you more than film school?

I believe that school always teaches something! But it depends on what YOU make of it! And of course, you also need a little luck! But seriously: I firmly believe that film or drama schools naturally impart knowledge - but often only in theory - the practice looks different - and is of course tougher. I firmly believe in practice and that if you really want something, you have to take action yourself. And certainly more so by the FILM. That is why I would always prefer the practice and see how the professionals work and start making films. First short films. Then show them to people and get feedback - and most importantly - make mistakes, because you learn from them and don't stop - keep going! Outside of a film school, filmmaking is much more difficult - but I don't think it's less instructive and a film school doesn't make a good filmmaker! It´s always you!


What makes cinema stand out more than the arts for you?

For me, cinema is the premier class! It is art and life itself in one form! Almost everything is allowed in the cinema. And you can sustainably influence or emotionalize the visitor. I firmly believe that this medium will not become extinct because people like to immerse themselves in the world of cinema and forget their everyday lives for a moment.


One film can reach many people all over the world at once, all of whom can be spellbound. For me, cinema is one of the greatest art forms in which people can express themselves and present messages.

Did you choose a certain directing style for making this film based on the script?

Paper is patient. With the feature film TO THE STARS (ZU DEN STERNEN), it was important to me to work very closely with the two main actors in advance. We rehearsed on the scenes weeks before shooting started and I wanted the two of them to meet several times before shooting because they were best blood brothers friends.


We also rehearsed the scenes so that I could let them play through for several minutes.


After we found the basis of the interaction, I let the two actors go and corrected just a few passages. I created a situation where the two could let go and get completely into play. Often I was filming rehearsals without having announced it beforehand. These were very often the best sequences.


How did you choose the cast and the crew of your film?

I wanted exactly these two main actors since one comes from the GDR and the other from the FRG. Both brought exactly the attitude I wanted for their roles. My co-producer understood the book exactly as I saw it, and my cameraman saw the same pictures I wanted. He is still relatively young - but very ambitious. Most of the crew didn't have that much film experience, but they had an incredible will and ambition and a desire to make the whole film. And everyone shared my vision. That was important. Still, I always wanted everyone to get involved and we as a team would create this film together. The team spirit was particularly good on the project! Regardless of which department, everyone was 100% involved. The title music by Florian Pfitzner or the music by Bojan Assenov. The Makeup by Laura Kloeters or the entire production team from I like Stories/Visuals to the cameraman Benjamin Thiemert with his team Yassin Khateeb and Tim Kallweit and our Soudlady Andrea Schmidt and cutter Marco Cadiago and color grader Eric Giese and many many more! We were and have been a great team.


How did you fund your film and what were some of the challenges of making this film?

We managed the film privately ourselves. That was certainly the greatest challenge. Unfortunately, we only had a very low budget and wanted to make a high value looking movie. And we had a total of 13 days of shooting and everything had to be shot. The cast and crew had follow-up jobs. The other challenge was the location - the music store. We could only shoot to a limited extent here and our actual location was canceled a week before shooting began, so we had to find a new place - this one now in the movie. That, of course, messed up our actual resolution. But I always say: "It doesn't work, doesn't exist - there has to be another way!" That means "making Movies" to me!


Do you consider yourself an indie filmmaker and what would most be the most difficult thing about being an independent artist?

I really don´t know, if I´m an indie Filmmaker. I love movies. And I love making movies - working in a great team, creating together a Vision, and bringing it to life on a Big Screen. For me, the most difficult thing about independent filmmakers is the fact that on the one hand there are often fewer financial resources available and on the other hand, you always need a longer path to be taken seriously as a filmmaker. Otherwise, I love free filmmaking! Just you and your team and hopefully a lot of viewers who want to see what has been created - no further decision-makers :-)

What is the distribution plan for your film?

The film is currently being evaluated at national and international festivals. Then I see the film in various art house cinemas and then an evaluation on TV or streaming services. I am open to ideas and suggestions.


What is your cinematic goal in life and what would you like to achieve as a filmmaker?

I want to make, like Tarantino, 10 feature films. Seriously: I still have a few ideas that I want to implement on film. And for that, I still need a good team and certainly money. I want to see my films in the cinema and of course, reach people with them and, ideally, touch them. But the most important thing for me is to be able to keep making films and to have to be as little dependent as possible. Every new film should be different and keep challenging me. Ultimately, however, always lead to perfection.


What kind of impact would your film have in the world and who is your audience?

With the my Movie TO THE STARS (ZU DEN STERNEN), it is important for me to show how total regimes can work with people psychologically, even years after a regime has ended. and how important it is to protect democracy - especially in today's stormy times!

Democracy is certainly not the best form, but I don't know any better one either - so keep your eyes open and protect democracy - anywhere in the world!

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