Interview with Dennis Knickel, Director (Memories short film)

I was sitting with a big smile in my living room in Berlin and was excited and happy about the fact that a crowded theater in Canada is talking about my little movie. The reactions were interesting and mainly positive, I think. I like listening to founded critics as it helps me developing and I had the feeling that the audience did have some knowledge about movies and/or could feel the message and suffer with the protagonist.

– Dennis Knickel, on watching the audience talk about his film at the WILDsound Film Festival (Review)

    Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of “Memories”

Matthew Toffolo interviews Dennis Knickel:

Matthew: Your short film played at our festival in 2013. How has it done since it screened? Has it played at more festivals? Distribution deal? Can be seen online?

Dennis: “Memories” had screenings all over the world, mainly in the US – in 11 states to be exact. It won the award for best international short film at the International Film Festival in Marbella, Spain, and won the summer edition of Facebook’s OneCloudFest. It hence qualified for the big final of this online event where it unfortunately just made it to the semi-finals. “Memories” also won the lovely organized Monarch Film Festival in Pacific Grove (Monterrey), California, and the audience award for 2nd best short film in Oberursel, Germany.

It got awarded with “The Thumb” from the public media center of Germany’s federal state Baden-Württemberg (Landesmedienzentrum) by what it officially gets recommended for school teaching. I found a distributor for the movie. It’s not available for everybody though as this distributor exclusively delivers schools, libraries, media centers and other institutions for educational and didactic purposes. For this year, the movie is recommended to be used for students for their final exams (Abitur) in Baden-Württemberg. This fact makes me pretty proud actually as this is the reason why I made a movie with a message: People shall work with it and find help if needed.

The Catholic Church and the Wingman Project were interested in buying the rights of “Memories”. The deals finally didn’t happen. The Wingman Project is a project by the US Army to prevent suicides amongst their pilots.

I didn’t try to find a distributor for the public market yet and also don’t offer the movie online (yet).

Matthew: What motivated you to make this film?

Dennis: I got in contact with some suicides in my life. Fortunately (for me), the suicidal persons were people I didn’t know good at all. But it anyway shocked me: How could they do that? Especially for some reasons that – to me – didn’t justify a suicide. I also wondered if a suicide is a private thing or not. Where does privacy start and where does it stop? When is a suicide legit and when not? Etc.

So I took a case that – in my opinion – does not justify a suicide. It’s also a case that happens very often, I guess. I wanted to pack it into an environment that doesn’t seem dark. It shows the beauty of life. Gives hope, but suddenly twists. That shocked some people – which was my intention – and made them wonder why the protagonist did it. Some people were almost angry to see such a nonsense suicide. He was not sick, he was young etc. There were no good arguments to commit suicide. And that’s the message of my movie. There’s always a better solution than giving up. I used one quote by Reiner Kunze in the end credits that summarizes it pretty good:

“Suicide. The last of all doors. But you never knocked on all the other doors before.”

Matthew: From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

Dennis: We shot “Memories” within 10 days of September 2009. The final sound mix was the last part of the post production and was done in spring 2012. But we screened it before already. The premiere was held in February 2011. I also interrupted the post in 2010 for writing a book about backpacking Thailand (“Curry Competition”).

Matthew: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Dennis: That might have been the jump off the bridge during the shooting of the movie. It’s been dangerous and took some nerves of my friends to do it. Yes, the jump is real and they were protected by two climbing ropes which we had to erase in the post production. But that was no real obstacle. It was thrilling and needed some time to figure out if it’s possible at all and how to do it. A real obstacle might have been my editor who disappeared with the movie and its backups for almost four months. We still don’t know where he was and why he left, but one day he all of a sudden picked up the phone and said: “Hi Dennis. How are you?” I was horrible as I could hardly sleep for the time he has been vanished. We will never work together again… Haha!

Matthew: What film have you seen the most in your life?

Dennis: Uff… I don’t know if there’s one movie. Maybe “Pulp Fiction”, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, “Fight Club”, “Oldboy” by Park Chan-wook, “Back to the Future”, “Bang Boom Bang” (a German cult movie by Peter Thorwarth), “True Romance” by Tony Scott, “Snatch” by Guy Ritchie or “To Be or Not to Be” by Ernst Lubitsch. I have no idea… But this little list is definitely a list of great movies.

Matthew: What is next for you? A new film?

Dennis: I’m still working on my fourth book. It’s my backpacking story of the US West Coast. It’s gonzo journalism with historical and sociological elements. After that, I hope that I’ll collect enough money for a new movie – a feature would be my goal and dream. But before, I’ll move into my car for some months and travel Germany with my new book. I’ll read from it in as many cities as possible and discover my home country at the same time. Maybe it’ll even become my next book? We’ll see. The future will definitely be pretty cool and exciting. Rock and roll.

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