When your own brain frustrates you and your muse remains elusive where do you wander to find inspiration?

Stuck in a fruitless scenario I suspect many of you will recognise all too well, German filmmaker Dennis Schnieber found himself spending more time drinking coffee and staring out the window than working on the script for his short film. After making a break for it by heading out to an unfamiliar, calm place, Schnieber not only found himself reenergised for his original script, but harbouring the desire to make a film about his rejuvenating experience; which is exactly what he did in abstract short Notion.

“I wanted the team to be as small as possible…first of all because I didn’t want to lose too much time on it, but also because the idea behind the film felt kind of personal to me. In the end, it was just two actors – Victor-Emanuel Schröter who I’d already worked with at that point and Layla Metssitane a stage actress from Paris and his then-girlfriend – the sound recordist, two friends of mine who handled the make-up and clapperboard and me for one day of shooting, working with available light only.

I used my Canon 550D loaded with the Magic Lantern firmware. Most of the images were shot with manual m42 lenses (Rikenon 55mm f1.4, Porst 35mm f1.4, Seimax 28mm f2.8). However, when I worked with the Glidecam, such as in the cycle scene where I filmed from the back of a motorbike, I worked with a 15-85mm Canon zoom lens.”

Shooting in the small town of Fuerstenwalde just outside of Berlin, Schnieber was able to call on friends for his interiors, although not all shooting locations were quite as welcoming:

“I was really happy that friends of mine who have this beautiful oriel allowed me to shoot the interiors of their apartment. However, we didn’t have permission to shoot by/on the train tracks and so it was kind of tricky to get the whole thing done smoothly. Once a train driver spotted me and slammed on the brakes! We then had to hide, wait and hope that the police wouldn’t show up. In the end we were able to get everything and call it a wrap just before sunset.”

After three weeks spent in front of his laptop Schnieber completed post production on Norton; working exclusively in Premiere Pro CS5, employing level and curve controls for the sound design and colour correction. He also continued his solo post journey by recording the film’s harmonica score himself, which of course he played.

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