Your movie Berlin
Junction - in a few words, what is it about?
an urban drama about a lifestyle in a multicultural city. It's a movie about
choices in life, facing maturity and the fear of loosing your personal
Was any of Berlin
Junction based on personal experiences, and to what extent can
you identify with Jos?
Junction was based on the personal experiences of everyone involved, mine
included, but it is a collaborative effort that through improvisation
permeates the lives, ideas and experiences of every actor.
Other sources of inspiration when
dreaming up Berlin
Junction - and since the film was improvised mostly, how detailed
was the basic plot outline?
We had no
plot outline. All I had is a page full of doodles pointing to some ideas
of characters based on the actors I had available after doing an Improv workshop that served as
casting session. The sources of inspiration were
definitely the city of Berlin and all of our experiences with this city.
The basic premise that launched the work was asking the question “If
Paris is the city of Love, what kind of city is Berlin?”
What were the main
challenges with your improvisational approach to storytelling, and how
easy or difficult was it to get the actors from one plot point to the
The main challenge was of course that we didn't
have a script and therefore we couldn't plan the production in advance.
From a technical point of view this meant that both camera people and
sound would have to be as much part of the improvisation as the actors,
reacting to the actions and making decisions on the spot as to what to
follow and where to point the camera.
actor had a very defined character and the situations played in real time.
Each interaction played like a vignette of each character and sometimes
they didn't need to hit plot points, these plot points were created in
the editing once we had the material the actors gave us. That's why it
was important to have a main character with a clear journey, so that he
could create those plot points as he encountered each different character.
Speaking of your actors - what can you tell us
about your cast, and why exactly these people? And what kind of a
challenge was it to find people up to your improvisational style of
actors are awesome, I'm really proud of all of them because they are so
talented and took a leap of faith in taking the challenge for this
experiment. The way I found them was through a workshop we did
specifically to discover people willing to experiment and open to
different ways of story telling. So instead of having traditional
auditions or casting sessions, what we did was a 3 day improv workshop
that had nothing to do with what you see in the film, but it was a general
acting workshop in which we explored the improvisation techniques that we
wanted to use for the creation of the film and at the same time to detect
creative people we wanted to collaborate with. You can see small clip of
the Wworkshop here:
Most of your movie seems to have been shot
guerrilla-style - am I right in that assumption, and has this ever posed
was an absolute guerrilla shoot. We had no permits, no big crew, no
studios, no lights, no big equipment, not even a script! The obvious
problems are trying to dodge the police on locations we shouldn't n be
able to be shooting at, or having to beg for people to let us use a place
to shoot, but more than problems there were creative challenges that were
included as part of the process in the improvisational experiment and I
think they were more of assets than set-backs.
So what can you tell us about the shoot as
such, and the on-set atmosphere?
shoot was very fast, we had 7 consecutive days of shooting. The atmosphere
was very relaxed and full of creative air. There was no time or financial
pressure because we didn't have to answer to anyone so we were free to
really experiment. It was a very playful atmosphere because of the nature
of the improvisation and it was really exciting because we never knew what
we would end up with. Every day was very different and the approach to the
improvisation changed with every situation and actor. There was no yelling
on set, no divas and no producer looking over our shoulders to make the
day on time.
What can you tell us
about critical and audience reception of your movie so far?
as with any kind of experiment there are always different reactions. The
film has been shown in some festivals in Germany and USA and the reception
at these events have been great. We had people come to us saying how
organic, how real the movie feels and how the situations mirror
experiences in their own life and that's great feedback. Of course when
the movie is out there in the web jungle alongside millions others there
will always be people that love it and others that hate it.
your experiences on Berlin
Junction, could you ever be persuaded to make another film along
this movie's lines of improvisational filmmaking - and any (other) future
projects you'd like to share?
I learned so much from this experience and there are
things that I would repeat, refine and develop and others that I wouldn't. The
improv is something I think I will always use as a technique for directing
actors and something I can develop into a style of directing, always
depending on the project and people I work with.
always have projects, but nothing I can announce just now. What I'm
working on actively now is an eLearning platform where we wish to provide
online courses and training related to filmmaking and creative arts. Right
now there is a course on micro-budget filmmaking that is based on my
learnings and experiences in making Berlin
Junction. You can access that
What got you into
filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on
I was a kid I always wanted to be a “Rock Star”, so I was a lot into
music and I learned to play guitar and got to play in some bands. That
eventually led me to an education in audio engineering which eventually
led me to work as an audio editor for HBO Latin America. Parallel to all
that I was always very drawn to theater and I realized that the only
medium where I could join all of my passions and interests was film. The
technicality of the medium, the confluence of all other arts and the
possibility of communicating what I wasn't able to in real life is what
made me become a filmmaker. I got a Bachelor's degree in Film Studies
back in Venezuela, plus an acting diploma at a theater group. Then I came
to Germany where I got a Master's degree in Media Production and I've
done a ton of workshops and seminars, so yes, I do have formal education.
What can you tell us about your filmwork
prior to Berlin Junction?
Berlin Junction I did a lot of short films and documentaries like any
other filmmaker. I felt I was ready to make the switch to feature length
format, but as everyone felt it was an impossible task. These short films
were great for practice, getting experience and get into some festivals,
but they would never put me on a professional path to be a director with
all the competition out there. I also did a lot of corporate films and
post-producton work to earn some money and then I found a group that
provided me the perfect opportunity to make the transition from short to
feature-length format. This is the CollabFeature group in which we make
segments, sort of like short-films, that are part of a feature film in
which we all collaborate. So in practice you are only creating short
length content, but you are involved in the making of the whole feature.
So that was a great transition until I decided to do my first solo
are also the lead producer of the CollabFeature group - do explain
the philosophy behind this group, and your projects with them? And how did
it first come into being?
not THE lead producer, but ONE lead producer, there are a couple.
CollabFeature is an idea that was born in Detroit, USA in the minds of
Marty Shea and Ian Bonner. They had the concept of creating a sort of big
band of filmmakers around the world collaborating through the internet to
make feature films (and now also series). So I applied to their first
project and we collaborated on a script that never got made. But that
first collaboration led to shape the way the group worked and provided the
basis to what it was to be a our real project, the feature film The Owner, which we made between 25 directors from 13 different
countries and premiered internationally in cinemas around the world on May
of 2012. That collaboration even led us to get a Guiness World Record for
the most directors on a flim
a German IPTV Award for most innovative format, and after some festival
appearances we released it on iTunes
(https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-owner/id860922309). Now we are on
the finishing stages of our second feature Train Station, which we
started submitting to festivals, and it involves more than 40 filmmakers
around the world. The group is also working on a TV series and it is
hopefully growing into a world network of collaborators.
How would you describe
yourself as a director?
like to think of myself as a director with a strong passion for acting,
which makes me work closely with actors and take great care into making
the acting and the story the most important elements on the process. At
the same time I am very tech-Savvy and I love technical innovations that
support the storytelling in any way, medium and format.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
Kubrick, Woody Allen, Alfonso Cuarón, Richard Linklater, Lars Von Trier,
Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer, Edward Burns, John Cassavetes, Michel
Gondry, Noah Baumbach, etc.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
A Clockwork Orange,
Dancer in the Dark, Havana Blues, Breathless, The Broken
... and of course, films you really
really love movies, so I can't think of a film I've seen I really
deplore. If I think I may not like a movie I just don't watch it.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
Where can you watch Berlin Junction?
Amazon Instant Video: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M8D97SI/
- and over ROKU (VHX Channel)
Google Play US: http://bit.ly/BJGoogleUS
Google Play Global: http://bit.ly/BJGoogleGlobal
Reelhouse : https://www.reelhouse.org/xagudo/berlinjunction
YouTube Rentals US: http://bit.ly/BJYouTubeUS
YouTube Rentals Global: http://bit.ly/BJYouTubeGlobal
And by signing up to the micro-budget filmmaking
Thanks for the interview!