‘Notion’ dir. Dennis Schnieber

An allegorical approach to the frantic search for inspiration and its unlikely discovery.

Country: Germany
Writer-Director: Dennis Schnieber
Sound Recordist: Mikel Reinhardt
Key Cast: Victor-Emanuel Schröter and Layla Messitane

C8: How did ‘Notion’ come about?

DS: I was working on a script for a short film and went through what the main character does in ‘Notion’. I had to leave my familiar surroundings in order to clear my mind, and the spot next to the train tracks is where I ended up with my bike. I decided to show that experience in a film but couldn’t spend too much time on it because of the project I was originally busy with.

C8: Was the decision to make a film without dialogue made early in the development process or was it something you implemented much later?

DS: From the beginning it was clear I would only work with sound design and the harmonica because I wanted ‘Notion’ to be very personal and quiet. It’s all about thoughts, spoken words would appear disruptive I think.

C8: Victor Emanuel-Schroeter gives an engaging performance. How did you go about casting the film?

DS: We already worked together before and when I asked him for help on this project, he instantly agreed. Layla Metssitane, a theatre actress from Paris, coincidentally visited Victor in Berlin at this time and he brought her in. It was perfect.

C8: How did you shoot the scenes on the train tracks?

DS: Actually there is nothing special about these scenes. I used the shoulder rig and tried not to stumble. But we had to hurry up while shooting there since I didn’t had any permission for it.

C8: Not only did you write and direct the film you also took care of the cinematography, the score and the edit. Was it difficult juggling lots of different roles?

DS: Not at all. On this project it was extremely comfortable to handle everything by myself. It was the first time that I devoted myself to sound design and music and that certainly didn’t turn out perfectly, but in the end, it really accelerated the whole process and that’s what I wanted.

C8: The crew was comprised mainly of your friends. How did you find working with your friends in this capacity?

DS: It was a very pleasant and amusing shooting, but still everyone was concentrated and tried to give me assistance. However, it felt a bit awkward to command my friends.

C8: You had a very small crew. Was this limiting or did it allow for greater freedom?

DS: I wanted to keep it small and familiar in order to accomplish the project in a short time.

Of course a light department, assistant producer etc, would have been great but we got by and I didn’t had the money for a bigger team and equipment anyway.

C8: The title ‘Notion’ is very ambiguous. Why did you decide on this and what does it mean to you?

DS: The description of the film very appropriate I think. To me it’s a symbol for the being in the forest that Victor tries to catch.

C8: If you did the whole thing again is there anything you would change?

DS: I would keep my hands off the sound design. Truthfully, I didn’t really know what I was doing.

C8: You describe ‘Notion’ as a search for inspiration. What inspires you?

DS: I don’t know. Inspiration is everywhere - it can be nature, sound, a photograph, a street fight. But surely it’s rarely inside my chamber and that’s what “Notion” is about.

C8: If you could give filmmakers any piece of advice what would it be and why?

DS: Be strict to yourself and get your things done.

C8: What is the essence of a good collaboration?

DS: Mutual confidence.

C8: What’s next for Dennis Schnieber? Any plans on the horizon?

DS: I will apply for direction this year, so my plan is to make it to the film school.

Beforehand I will shoot another movie, dealing with drug abuse and interpersonal relations, and in the near future I will upload my latest short film called “Ruck”.