What was the initial spark or idea that led to the creation of “DeadEnd”?


The idea of Dogma95 influenced me a lot. I liked the concept of reducing things to a minimum to challenge your creativity. So searching for different perspectives of filmmaking and storytelling, it became kind of an important trademark for me because it excites me. My first feature film “Point of View” had only 5 cuts within 80 minutes, and the concept was to show the whole story out of the point of view of the main character.

During the shooting of this film my father died, and it was very difficult for me to deal with the post-production because everything reminded me of that sad moment. Luckily I finished Point of View, it was received very well, and I attended many film festivals. During that time, I was exhausted. It felt like I needed some change. So, I had the idea to get out of my normal life, and isolate myself somewhere remote. So I started writing a story about a person who goes to an isolated place to end his life. I knew that it had to be very intimate. When I talked to a good friend, who told me that doing a feature film on your own is madness, my decision was clear, I wanted to be on my own. I think DeadEnd is probably the first feature film that was done by only one person.


What message or theme were you aiming to convey?


My film is primarily about self-determination and not suicide. Sometimes it feels like you can no longer control your own life, you feel unable to make certain decisions on your own. This depends on both external and internal factors. Self-determination is a human right, but unfortunately it is still just a dream for far too many people. My message is:

Retain your self-determination over your life if you already have the chance due to external factors.

We in Europe can count ourselves lucky, but internal blockages often prevent us from doing so.


Which director’s work do you admire the most, and why?


There are so many great directors I admire, I love Chan-Wook Park (Oldboy, JSA, Thirst), Vinterberg (Celebration, The Hunt), I love the humor of Anders Thomas Jensen (Adam’s Apple), Sunsanne Bier (In a Better World) is great, I like Sorrentino and Lanthimos, Gaspar Noé is interesting. Of course I grew up with Tarantino, Rodriguez, Steven Spielberg or Peter Jackson. His first films like “Bad Taste” or “Braindead” are hilarious. Talking about New Zealand, Taika Waititi is fun, and my friend Tuki Laumea is a great documentary director. But I also want to promote Austrian films. We have very interesting filmmakers like Ulrich Seidl, Schalko or my good friend Jakob M. Erwa. But this is just a tiny selection of people I like and I only mentioned filmmakers of the present time. I could write pages about great films and filmmakers, who all deserve to be mentioned. Charlie Chaplin, Gene Kelly and Singing in the Rain, I am sure I forgot some very important ones.


What books or movies had the biggest impact on you growing up?


I grew up with the books of Enid Blyton, Herman Hesse, Asterix and Dostojewski. The first films I saw were some shorts of Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy. I have every Bud Spencer and Terence Hill film on VHS and on DVD twice in my selection, so I saw those films a hundred times and I still love them. There are some great Italo Western. I like Hong Kong movies and I grew up with martial arts and Ninja films. And I was a huge horror fan, I love suspense.

Tell us about your filmmaking journey.

I studied drama in Vienna, acted in theaters, and I also worked as an assistant director. Then I moved to Berlin and worked on music videos and short films as an editor and director. Our first short film called “Codewort Mr. Bean” was shown at the Berlinale. 2015 I co-produced the film “Homesick” that was directed by Jakob M. Erwa and its premiere was at the Berlinale. After that I wrote and directed my first feature film called “Point of View” which gave me a good reason to travel around the world for a year because it was selected at different festivals on every continent. I finished my second feature film DeadEnd (AusWeg) this year (2024) and the festival circuit has just started. So far it is going great, it got selected already at several festivals and nominated especially in categories like Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Producer, Best Director, Best Narrative Feature Film.


Can you share a story about a failure that ultimately led to success in your career?


First we have to define what failure is. I think there are different ways of failure. Do you fail to finish something or do you fail financially? I failed so many times on so many levels, I can’t even count. But those failures also lead me to success that I would not have reached if I didn’t go through that struggles. It is a matter of perspective. In every project there are moments of failure. Many people who do art have to face self-doupt and insecurities. It happened a few times that I did not finish a film project. I consider that a bigger failure than not having success with a finished project even though it is painful.

When I finished shooting DeadEnd, I was overwhelmed by all the footage and the post-production that was ahead of me. So I did not touch it for almost a year. I thought I would never find the time to finish that film. It felt like a failure to me. Then came Corona and suddenly everything was on hold. I forced myself to edit this film, and it took me another 3 years to finish it. I worked for 6 years on that project, I changed a lot as a filmmaker, my perspective on my footage changed too, it was not easy for me to show the final result to my friends. So, I consider that already a success because I did a feature film on my own. And when I hear the feedback, the reviews, and the nominations, I am blown away. The real success is to start a journey and to continue until you cross the finishing line without taking the nearest exit or shortcut because this long marathon with all the pain and struggle makes you who you are. You can’t buy this experience with money.


What’s the most rewarding part of being a director?


After doing a film all by myself I appreciate working with different artists who are specialists in their field. Those different departments are full of great people and they help you realize your vision by adding their vision to it. This can boost your vision even more.


What’s your process for working with actors to develop their characters?


I studied drama, I have an actor’s background, and I think I know very well how to get the best out of actors. I prefer to give my actors a lot of space and freedom, I am open for surprises. For me the most important thing is that the actors feel free and safe. Every actor has different strengths and works differently. I always try to find those trigger points. For me it is important that the actor can let himself go because then he enjoys the ride and we get the best results.


What are some unexpected joys you’ve found in your filmmaking journey?


I enjoy meeting new people and making new friends. I love to travel the world, I have always been a globetrotter and I love to see different continents, countries and cultures. That inspires me and pushes me to continue.


What advice would you give to someone starting in filmmaking?


You have to fail and you can only fail if you start shooting films. The hardest thing is to get something positive out of failure. But those are the moments when you can learn something and become better. Being a filmmaker is a permanent study and learning curve. The quote “say no to the naysayer” also applies to your inner voices that may be filled with doubts and want you to stop.