Hi Iris, thank you for doing this interview. You are currently busy making a feature film called Wachs. Could you tell me a little bit more about this new project?
The story starts with a Skype relationship, two people know each other via image and sound. They build up some imaginations, images of the other and find out that it’s not real. It’s a fantasy world. Everybody have their own issues, and it’s not the love-relationship they thought it to be. Eventually they get to know each other and a friendship develops. I think it’s going to be kind of absurd.
And where are you with Wachs right now?
For the past half year I have written the first draft, the first version. At the moment I am also looking for a framework for how the movie can be made in the future, in the next years. It’s a big decision. You always need so much money, people you can and want to work with, you have to think in so many “worlds” and with so many different “minds”.
Having this huge scope of a project, I guess you have to wait a lot between the different production steps, are you doing other side projects in the meantime?
Definitely. I can’t just do one thing for many reasons, it’s always parallell work.
Previously you have done experimental shorts, and you have said in another interview that you felt more spontaneous and free in that format. Can you stay true to that feeling with a feature film, like 90 minutes of improvising a story?
I try to. There is this conventional form that if you want to do a long movie, you have to adapt somehow production-wise. For me, the method or the process is as important as the product, the finished work. I want to try to bring the experimental method, the experimental view more and more through this form — between classic storytelling and unexpected moments.
And for Schwitzen (Sweat), your previous short movie, how did you approach scriptwriting there?
The script was strict, actually (laughs). I like to have it that way. I like to know what I am searching for, to know what I want. And there are about 30 people who want, or have to know that, too (laughs), because we are all working together so that these special things can happen.
It’s like a big Apparatus that follows you as a writer and director. So it’s always good when everything is there and everyone are prepared. When we have the possibility to shoot everything like it’s written in the script and with the preparations done, I feel a bit more free to take in what comes, to be spontaneous.
“In the best case, there will be surprises, which are better than the written and prepared cases. Things you otherwise never would have imagined. Then, it’s up to me to discover them on set or at rehearsals or meetings and support them. You also have to feel the ambience, create it for and with the team you are working with, and later on for the viewers who are watching it. So in the end, it’s one whole thing together.”
About the ambience, you have said that locations inspire you and it triggers the creative process in you. I see that very much in Doublage, Milch and Suture. The characters and the space are interacting with each other somehow and the whole experience feels almost metaphorical. Are you seeking out ambient places for inspiration, or do you just happen to find them?
It’s mostly accidental. I find some place and then I’m really fascinated of it. I start to make stories around it. Maybe because I don’t understand its function, or maybe because it’s mysterious for some other reason. Something hidden (laughs), or something that could possibly happen there in the future, or maybe happened there in the past. Space for certain events.
Would you say you have something like a “signature mark” on your productions?
I think it’s the atmosphere. I like it when something has an atmosphere, that I become really interested in what is happening or what is hidden. The feeling towards it, the free space of it.
How do you get started in your creative process — are you thinking in words, images, or where do you begin?
My first impulse comes when I have visual ideas. Writing for me is like making sketches in words. It’s very possible, not expensive, you can do it everywhere. You can fix your idea, that’s how writing is for me. I also see my texts like images. Maybe even images and sounds.
You said you like the spontaneity of working in small teams. I see a little connection there with Gus van Sant, who also mentions this. But also from the visual style — beautiful and slightly disturbing. Do you have any opinion about him or his work?
I like the slowness and the details in his films. The viewer’s imagination is a huge part of the image, and you can follow the propositions. It’s between leading the viewer’s attention and letting it go. I like that.
How much are you involved in the art space today?
I studied art, so I am having this direct connection since about nine years (laughs). I was, and I am still together with people who are into that. So I got my ideas out from there. I have also worked with theater, as an assistant. That’s also another approach, but I can somehow understand, or like all of these approaches. And that I can have ideas for all of them. It just happens to me, kind of (laughs).
And what was your general experience from your film– and art studies?
I learned a lot. Not how to make movies, that’s actually not part of the plan at the academy. But yeah, I learned ways of how to think, or how to look at other films and artworks. And when we made exhibitions, I also learned a lot about group dynamics (laughs). At university, I didn’t learn the practice of filmmaking, I had to learn that for myself and elsewhere.
Visit Iris’ website for news and updates on her projects: Iris Blauensteiner
Interview by Anders Khan Bolin | @strayl1ght